Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Notes from a curmudgeon

I was telling my theater-loving friend Don that American audiences on Broadway need to learn to curb their enthusiasm. First, they clap when a famous actor enters the stage, which is wrong. They interrupt the flow of the play and it must be awful for the not so famous actors on the boards. Then they give standing ovations to a fart, a cable, a backdrop, a cough drop. They have learned to ape this horrid behavior from the audiences in talk shows on TV. Take a look at the Tonight Show or Oprah or The Price is Right and then check out the Broadway audience. They think it's the same thing. They also hoot and holler and whistle as if they were in a rodeo or at a baseball game. It drives me crazy.
I think standing ovations should really be reserved for the apex of genius. and those instances come along very rarely. One can express one's appreciation for a performer by clapping really hard and screaming Bravo or Brava, as is the case, but one only stands up at the sight of absolute greatness.
I just hate when the inevitable moron in one of the first rows stands up in order to be acknowledged by those on the stage, not the other way around, and then the rest of the sheep feel compelled to do the same, so the entire theater stands whether they feel the ovation is deserved or not. Thank God, here in NY the theater people still have their wits about them and they do not fabricate curtain calls when few are deserved. If it was up to the audience, we'd be there all night, screaming like teenyboppers at the sight of their idols over and over and over. It's vulgar.
One of the nice things about the opera crowd is that it is a highly opinionated crowd, and operagoers do not stand for communal cheerleading. If they don't like someone, either they mute the applause, or they hiss or they even boo. And the screams of Bravo and Brava are well earned and well deserved, highly idiosyncratic. The theater should be the same.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:00 PM

    Well said, curmudgeon!