TDGR 289: Intro to Doctoral Studies: Production Reviews & News


Variety began in 1905 as a weekly show business trade paper, covering vaudeville, stage, and film. It went on to feature news on television, aspects of new media, and to a lesser extent music. Daily Variety started much later--1933-- and focused on motion pictures more specifically; it ceased as a separate publication in March 2013.  There have been a number of regional/international/special editions at different times.

Finding full searchable access to all of the historical contents in Variety is challenging. The following will help you discover the access for UCSD researchers.

Both Variety and Daily Variety are included, full-text, in the Lexis-Nexis Academic database, for the following dates: Variety from July 19, 1993 to the present, and Daily Variety from April 27 1992-March 2013.  They are also indexed in the database "Film and Television Literature Index"

Production Reviews

     Production reviews focus on the individual productions of theater, dance, and performance pieces and generally do not critique the text from a literary or cultural point of view, although this is less true for new work, where both the text and the production are new to critics and their readers. For dramatic criticism or pre-contemporary texts, theater history, or performance theory, start with the sources in the tab "Article Databases."

Although New York City has never been the only important place where new theater, dance and performance pieces are produced, The New York Times is nevertheless one of the most important sources of reviews and news about the performing arts and the entertainment industry (except for film). Access the full texts of these articles from:

              New York Times Historical (1851-2007)   and 

             New York Times Current (1999-present)


 Reviews from the Times published between 1870 and 2000 were also reproduced in annual volumes titled New York Times Theater Reviews.  

            UCSD:  Owns the volumes covering 1870-1919, 1930-1934, 1973-1974, 1977-1978, 1981-1982, and 1985-1998; stored at SRLF (request through Melvyl).

            UCI:    PN 1581 .N41 Langson Reference (all volumes from 1870 through 2000)


 Reviews and other performance-related news in newspapers and other media from all over the world (but rarely more than 20 years old) can be accessed (full-text) in:

             LexisNexis Academic

             Use the "Search the News" for reviews and most news, but try "Search People" for individual performers, creators, directors, designers, etc. 


New York Theatre Critics’ Reviews. 1940-1995.

            Reproductions of the reviews of New York productions in about a dozen New York-based media, including the Times, the Post, the News, the Wall Street Journal, Women’s Wear Daily, and the major television networks. 

            UCSD: PN 1601 .N4 SSH Reference (1940-1994)

            UCI:     PN 2000 .N76 Langson Reference (1956 -1995)

            Continued by: National Theatre Critics’ Reviews. Woodside, Queens, N.Y.: Critics’ Theatre Reviews, 1995-1996. 

UCSD & UCI have both years at same call numbers as above.


Click here for information about access from the UCSD Libraries to other historical and current newspapers which are useful for discovering performance news and reviews from the mid-19th century to the present.  Information about and reviews of current productions in NYC and a few other metro areas, including an archive of reviews back to about 1999.


OffOffOnline . Reviews of more than 2000 Off-Off-Broadway productions performed since April 2004.


The Off Off Broadway Review. Similar to the above


Aisle Say. A comparatively amateurish website, with frequently broken links and frustratingly undated reviews, this site may nevertheless have critical comment on new and recent productions (from New York to Los Angeles) not found elsewhere.


James M. A Guide to Critical Reviews. 3rd ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1984- . Part I: American Drama, 1909-1982. Part II: The Musical, 1909-1989. Part III: Foreign Drama, 1909-1977. Part IV: The Screenplay.  

            Citations to reviews from popular magazines, primarily of New York productions.

            UCSD: PN 2266 .S34 SSH Reference

            UCI:     Z 5781 .S16 1984 Langson Reference 

For other, more recent reviews, especially from U.S. publications, use Academic Search Complete and Periodicals Index Online . Some of the databases listed under the Article Databases tab also include production reviews.

Theatre Record. Middlesex, England: I Herbert, 1981-         .  

            Reprints newspaper and magazine reviews of British (mostly London) reviews.

            UCSD: PN 2596 .L6 L66 SSH Annex (Request from the Roger record).  UCI: Not available