Theater archives

The Horror of Standing Ovations on Broadway


Yes, the situation has become a horror, mainly because it’s so boringly expected now.

If someone shows up, you stand.

If they get through the show without dropping dead, you stand and cheer!

You simply have to stand after every show to prove that you got your money’s worth, even if you didn’t (or even if it was comp).

It’s become an obligatory part of the theatrical experience (except at The Anarchist).

And this mania has gotten really unhealthy, IMHO.

I just read about a respected actress who took her bow to a complete standing ovation except for one woman in the front row who marched to her own drum while fully seated.

“Why aren’t you standing?” the actress asked the woman. “It’s rude.”

The lady should have responded, “Oh, really? What’s really rude is demanding that everyone stand!

“Sitting is not against the law, you know!”

And maybe the woman was tired, has health problems, or simply didn’t adore what she’d seen.

Or quite possibly she did like it, but didn’t feel the need to leap to her feet in a cliched show of public over-appreciation.

Paying for your ticket and then applauding is certainly enough of a give-back to a performer who’s done their job.

In my case, I try to never stand up, so I won’t either show my hand or give off the wrong impression.

If I loved it, it’s no one’s business till publication time, and if I didn’t, I don’t want people to think “Ooh, it’s a thumbs up,” then read my review three days later saying it was a pile of caca.

As a result, I rarely see the curtain calls because everyone’s standing around me as I stubbornly sit, to prove my point.

But I’ll ask my friend, “Who just came out for their bow?”

If it’s someone I liked, I’ll clap extra hard.