Opening Applause for Celebrities?

NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 10:17am

Two recent shows I attended starring David Schwimmer and Jake Gyllenhaal, the audiences were faced with a question of theater etiquette: Should they applaud when the stars first appeared on stage? Some did clap; most did not.
I canvassed actors, directors, critics for their responses to the question: Is opening applause appropriate? (see link below for answers.)
What do YOU think?




Opening Applause for Celebrities?

Updated On: 9/29/12 at 10:17 AM
rhdery
Understudy
joined:7/22/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 10:44am
If the audience wants to applaud they should applaud. I have seen it many times, and it has never been a problem. I particularly remember Gary Sinise bounding onto the stage full of energy and ready to attack his lines in Cuckoo's Nest, and he just allowed the energy and tension in his body to build as the audience applauded, using the applause break to serve him as an actor.

Those eruptions of applause for celebrities are moments of joy and celebration for the people who pay the bills-- the audience. Theater needs more of it and not less.



Updated On: 9/29/12 at 10:44 AM
That Groovy Guy
Stand-by
joined:2/25/04
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 11:01am
After giving it some thought, I think that it is almost always appropriate for the audience to applaud when they've seen something they particularly enjoy...whether it's a performer singing the hell out of a song or even if it's the mere fact that Angela Lansbury walked out on the stage. I think it would be silly not to do it (if you wanted to) and I think it would be even sillier for someone to be annoyed by it. For someone whose status is not as legendary as someone such as Angela Lansbury, like Schwimmer or Gyllenhaal, I could see how some would and some wouldn't applaud immediately. I wouldn't call it "inappropriate" whether you do or whether you don't.

The only time I think it might be "inappropriate" would be if it is in the middle of an intense scene and the applause would disrupt the mood of the moment. I would think that for the most part there wouldn't be many first entrances in the middle of such a scene. Oh...and of course I think it would be inappropriate if you were the ONLY one applauding...like if you were someone's mom and your chorus member son walked out for the first time.
"Oh some like it hot, but I like it *really* hot." - Heat Miser
Dollypop
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 11:06am
Every Dolly who played the part on Broadway has been greeted with entrance applause when she revealed herself on the trolly. In fact at the very last performance DOLLY! played on Broadway, every single character received warm and welcoming applause upon his or her entrance. Why? Because we were glad to see them and we didn't know when these characters would be gracing our stages again.

I will continue to applaud every entrance Patti LuPone ever makes because she's not just an actress--she's the sun, the moon and the stars!

Thank you very much.
"Long live God!" (GODSPELL)
bobs3
Broadway Legend
joined:4/8/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 12:16pm
Any good director knows how to stage a star's entrance so that the applause doesn't interrupt the action of the show (i.e., a pause in the dialogue or music underscoring).
NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 03:38pm
It's interesting how most of the reactions here are more or less "of course" -- while most of the people whose Twitter replies I included in my blog post were: of course NOT.

e.g.
Jason Zinoman: Count me as a NO,”
Andrew Andrew: "Just like “ovation inflation” it seems people think opening applause compulsory."


Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Updated On: 9/29/12 at 03:38 PM
AwesomeDanny
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/09
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 06:48pm
I don't like entrance applause. Not because it interrupts the show (although that does happen) but because the actor hasn't done anything yet. It diminishes the meaning of the rest of the applause after songs and during the curtain call because people get applause for merely entering the stage. It takes a lot more than that to get me to willingly applaud.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 07:58pm
^^^^ Do you mean like how greeting someone warmly spoils the good-bye later?
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 07:59pm
Any good director knows how to stage a star's entrance so that the applause doesn't interrupt the action of the show (i.e., a pause in the dialogue or music underscoring).

^^^This. If you feel like applauding an entrance, you were probably meant to do so.
adam.peterson44
Broadway Star
joined:9/7/11
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 09:42pm
I don't feel like entrance applause spoils the meaning of later applause, nor that it is for not doing anything. It is applause showing appreciation for people's previous work, possibly that could not be applauded live before because it was on film or television or a cast recording but not seen in person by the person applauding. Once the applause for past work is out of the way and out of the audience's system, then later applause is for what is done on stage during the current performance. As long as staging is done so that dialogue or music is not covered by it, i don't have a problem with entrance applause. Whether or not i join in depends on whether or not i have seen and strongly appreciated previous work by that particular performer.
James885
Broadway Legend
joined:5/2/05
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/29/12 at 09:57pm
I'm not a gigantic fan of entrance applause but I feel like as long as it isn't totally obnoxious, it's all right.

If you feel like applauding an entrance, you were probably meant to do so

This was especially true in Young Frankenstein where it seemed like every major character's entrance was staged in a way that compelled the audience to applaud.
"You drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!" - Betty Parris to Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
rhdery
Understudy
joined:7/22/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 11:37am
Critics aren't audience, and they will always attend shows with a different attitude than the paying public. It's not better or worse, but it is unreasonable to expect everyone to sit blandly through every show with a detached, cow-like stare plastered on their faces.

A trip to New York and a chance to see a beloved performer on stage is a once in a lifetime experience for many of the people in the audience, and they applaud because they are humans experiencing an emotion known as joy.

If that distracts some dusty old critic from his or her dispassionate blasé posturing-- good!

Updated On: 9/30/12 at 11:37 AM
JohnyBroadway
Broadway Star
joined:4/10/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 11:40am
When I saw the entire cast got applause for their entrances.
NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 01:11pm
rhdery: I've never seen a critic who looked like a cow, but in any case it isn't only critics who weighed in on entrance applause. Plenty of performers and theatergoers -- even out-of-town ones-- have mixed or negative feelings about the practice.
JohnyBroadway: Which show are you talking about?
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 08:05pm
The last item in NewYorkTheater's link brings up a related question. I may be contradicting myself here, but I'm not so fond of applauding the scenery.

I guess the difference is the scenery can't hear the clapping. (Yes, the designer may, but that's not quite the same thing to me.)
Patti LuPone FANatic
Broadway Legend
joined:3/4/06
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 08:13pm
Dolly, you're too much....in a good way. "A day without Patti is like a day without sunshine." from RC in Austin, Texas
Plum
Broadway Legend
joined:3/4/04
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 08:27pm
If it's someone like Elaine Stritch, Barbara Cook, or Angela Lansbury, who's given a lifetime to theater, eh, it's fine. I get a little more eyerolly when it's for whoever's migrated from TV this year. (And I admit I was very amused when Anna Madely got the entrance applause that was clearly meant for Kim Catrall in last year's Private Lives.)
homeimp
Leading Actor
joined:10/2/08
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 08:30pm
One reason I enjoy theater in the West End is the lack of entrance applause. But then theater is so much classier over there. Except for the dreadful ice cream containers you have to wade through on the way out! I loved the way Jude Law's Hamlet was staged here in NYC. Jude was alone on stage as the curtain went up, yet so much was happening in the way of lighting and sound effects that nobody felt the need to applaud. It was not missed. Even here in Canada, we are far less prone to applaud an actor before he/she has done anything onstage. I am a retired teacher. I didn't expect my class to applaud me when I walked in the door each morning. Actually a hearty round of applause at the end of a day's work would have been appreciated!
BWFan101
Understudy
joined:9/15/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 09:00pm
I personally get annoyed when someone is applauded before doing anything, just because they're famous. For instance, the audience went crazy when Morgan Freeman entered the stage during A Country Girl. He proceeded to give one of the most lack luster performances I've seen...
Common sense? What's common about it? No one has common sense. It should be called rare sense.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 09:08pm
I think Morgan Freeman has earned entrance applause. If he is lackluster, then just applaud politely at the end.
JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 09:15pm
Why in the world do you care if an actor gets applause on his or her entrance? Seriously, there is something really wrong with you if you fret about an audience expressing it's love for a performer upon first sight. Really, seriously wrong.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 9/30/12 at 09:21pm
As I've suggested, I don't mind. (The exception is when one fan tries and tries to start entrance applause for a minor celebrity. If it doesn't erupt spontaneously after a clap or two, let it go, dude!)

But I guess for some people, entrance applause delays the theatrical illusion. But that same illusion is interrupted by applause after musical numbers (we had a thread on that, too) and at the end of scenes. So I'm not sure why entrance applause is such a problem.

Others here seem to have a puritanical reaction against "unearned" applause. The answer to them of course is that some of us feel the applause was "earned" in previous roles. And you don't get to see the play before you decide to pay for your ticket, so a certain amount or our reaction to any production is "speculative".
NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 10/1/12 at 11:02am
Must be something in the air.
The Globe and Mail of Canada has two articles on the same subject published today, one pro, one con.

Hold your applause until an actor deserves it, by Kate Taylor
A star enters, we clap. What’s the problem? by J. Kelly Nestruck

I've put excerpts of, and links to, both articles at the bottom of my blog post

Opening Applause for Celebrities?
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 10/1/12 at 11:07am
It's tacky, vulgar, and suburban, except in instances where the actor's entrance has been obviously staged explicitly to encourage applause.

It can add a bit of fun to a comedy or musical; in a drama, it's just ridiculous.
AC126748
Broadway Legend
joined:7/15/06
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 10/1/12 at 11:30am
Agreed with newintown on this one. I find entrance applause pretty cringeworthy in most cases.

One of the most hilarious recent memories I have was in CURTAINS where all of John Bolton's entrances were specifically designed to receive entrance applause--and of course none of them did, because the B&T audiences had no idea who John Bolton was. I also chuckle a bit remembering Plum's comments about Anna Madeley and Kim Cattrall--it was the exact same the night I saw it.
"You travel alone because other people are only there to remind you how much that hook hurts that we all bit down on. Wait for that one day we can bite free and get back out there in space where we belong, sail back over water, over skies, into space, the hook finally out of our mouths and we wander back out there in space spawning to other planets never to return hurrah to earth and we'll look back and can't even see these lives here anymore. Only the taste of blood to remind us we ever existed. The earth is small. We're gone. We're dead. We're safe." -John Guare, Landscape of the Body
Ed_Mottershead
Broadway Legend
joined:10/20/05
Opening Applause for Celebrities?
Posted: 10/1/12 at 01:24pm
Going back to antedeluvian times, I recall when Bette Davis made her entrance in the original production of The Night of the Iguana, the audience went wild -- screaming, hollering, the whole bit. Davis finally broke character and acknowledged the applause with a smile and a nod and the performance was able to continue. As the evening wore on, it became obvious that Davis was not right for the role, plus the part was significantly smaller than that of Margaret Leighton's. Davis took her curtain call third from last and the applause dwindled quite noticeably, only to be resumed at full force for Margaret Leighton,who received a standing ovation. Davis left the show shortly thereafter, being succeeded by the infinitely better-cast Shelley Winters.
BroadwayEd

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