Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hey! You're Applauding For No Reason!

During last night's fall musical performance, I was lucky enough to sit behind a man I have come to know as Hey!.

Hey! always seems to have tickets on the same night as I do. I have never known who he actually is, however. At the end of many of the musical numbers, Hey! will shout (what do you think he will shout?) "Hey!" in that sacred quiet moment between the end of the song and the applause.

It unnerves me, and I hate it. So here I am, sitting where I can see him, and I can't do a thing about it. How would it look to have a teacher confront a parent at a school event? I so wanted to ask him why he shouts like that. I so wanted to challenge his choice of time to yell (for example, if you are going to shout, why didn't you do it at the end of It Takes Two? It was an adorable number and very important to the plot. The kids were able to sing and act at the same time. Bad choice, Hey!. Bad choice.

While I have you here and you're listening to my thoughts on theatre ettiqute, can we also discuss the standing ovation?

We have devalued it. How many performaces (of any type) have you attended recently where one schmoe stands up? All of them, right? Then, just because he did it, five more people stand up and before you know it, everyone around you is standing and if you don't you're a bastard who doesn't appreciate everyone's hard work and the stock for applause just plummeted. Little Johnny goes to college and appears in his first college show and thinks, "Man, I got a standing O every time I got onstage in High School and now I hardly ever do. I must have peaked in high school."

And he weeps. Do you want that on your head? I don't.

I would like to propose a minimum basic criteria for a standing ovation and I would like to do it here. Please share your ideas here and the findings of our committee will be shared in this space at a later date.

We could change the world and save little Johnny.


The Crib Chick said...

I would have to say that a production must...

a) Make me weep.


b) *Not* make me look at my watch, yawn, and/or cause me to make a mental grocery list/menu plan for the next week.

and maybe

c) Exclaim, 'Dang!'. In a *good* way.

I'm with you; the O has been cheapened.

(Word verification was dkxjnz; the knock-off of DKNY Jeans.)

educat said...

I'd take it even further, I think. Suspension of disbelief matters. I think that's it. If it's one stand out performance, I am admiring of that person, but can't give it up because there must not have been a sense of ensemble (otherwise, why would someone stand out?). Production values? Probably not.

I think of it this way, I stood for Beckett with Derek Jacobi, I stood (and clapped until my hands were bloody stumps) for Janet McTeer and Owen Teale's A Doll's House (won the Tony in 1997). I didn't stand for Miss Saigon in London, but I did for Hello Dolly at school in 2003. Please don't begrudge me an eyeroll for standing at your church Nativity.

I might like your production, but that is why I will applaud. Standing is gravy and gravy is fattening to have every night.

Scott Jones said...

Yes, this bothers me. When I was young, we didn't get a standing ovation every time. Only if it was really good or the last night of the show. And then we'd walk home barefoot in the snow.

bpyks -- n. substandard turnpikes.

Jim Jannotti said...

Shoot! How'd I miss this post by two days. I'm losin' it.

I think almost all standing O's are improper. Especially in a high school auditorium. They should be like my steaks: safe and rare.

Notwithstanding that, I have felt I must stand and clap for high school performances on a couple of occaisons: I saw Singin' In The Rain and the young lady who played Lina (she's the one that sings "What's Wrong With Me?" right?) was outrageously good. She walked away with the whole show. I stood for that.


Long time ago: My Fair Lady. Prof. makes a phone call trying to find Liza, dialog as follows:

Police officer: What color eyes?

Higgins: Blond **audience cracks up at forgetting of lines** Actor playing Higgins, unfazed, motions for them to shush as if they are a character in the play.

Police officer: (also cracking up) Hair color?

Higgins: Blue, you fool! Blue! **audience roars and weeps and cheers for a full minute before play can resume**

I stood then too.