With rare exceptions, I’ve always felt that forced audience interaction is a lazy device designed to get paying customers more involved in the show.
I came to see the show.
I want to be entertained, not be the entertainment, and if these stars dazzled the way they should, no such encouragement would be needed.
Yes, I would have loved to be a big stage star myself, but since that didn’t work out, I’m content watching other people do it, without them urging me to be part of the act for free.
This desperate dynamic had led to some very awkward moments.
I vaguely remember cast members from Cats coming down the aisle with paws outstretched as I developed a sudden case of hives. I’m allergic!
Other times, performers seem to know where the press are seated and clearly have been warned to leave them alone, but not some avant-garde singer who dragged me onstage during her cabaret act last year to kneel at her feet, take orders (“Hold out your arms”), and basically look horrified.
Once I blushingly straggled back to my seat, I assumed that was the end of it, but later, the chantoozy floozy barreled through the crowd and singled me out again, demanding that I zip her into her bodice. (I declined and looked away. By then, I felt I deserved overtime.)
But at least she was kitschily fun in the way she broke barriers and made the audience another character.
The worst is when some generic performer pleads with you to clap along, sing along, and do anything along.
They put the lyrics up on a big screen and ask you to be the star.
Imagine if you went to see Andrea Bocelli in concert and friends asked, “How was he?” “Not sure,” you replied. “I’m the one who did the singing.”
So leave me alone, performers.
Don’t worry, I love what I’m seeing up there — especially the fourth wall.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 15, 2011