Audience Having a Bad Time?

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Mr. Wormwood
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#1
Posted: 7/20/19 at 7:53pm
Just out of curiosity, have you been to a show in recent years where it seems like the audience at large is not enjoying themselves? I feel like from what I have read and my own experience, we are pretty discerning theater-goers so often if there's a show that someone doesn't like it'll have the caveat "but the audience seemed to love it"

I feel, especially in recent years, like audiences are super into most shows regardless of quality. Laughing loudly, big applause, etc even when I don't get the appeal.

So has anyone experienced Broadway shows in recent years where this is NOT the case?
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Itonlytakesajourney
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#2
Posted: 7/20/19 at 8:05pm
A recent one for me was Mean Girls. It could’ve largely been my distaste for the show, but the jokes landed tepidly and the audience’s laughter was hit or miss. The cast did their absolute best with the material given, but I felt the audience wasn’t really into it.

Once On This Island was another experience where I honestly couldn’t tell if the audience was enjoying themselves or not. I know I certainly did, but the applause was again very tepid right up until the end. Made me cringe a bit when big numbers got halted/timid clapping, honestly.
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#3
Posted: 7/20/19 at 10:29pm

Itonlytakesajourney said: "A recent one for me was Mean Girls. It could’ve largely been my distaste for the show, but the jokes landed tepidly and the audience’s laughter was hit or miss. The cast did their absolute best with the material given, but I felt the audience wasn’t really into it.

Once On This Island was another experience where I honestly couldn’t tell if the audience was enjoying themselves or not. I know I certainly did, but the applause was again very tepid right up until the end. Made me cringe a bit when big numbers got halted/timid clapping, honestly.
"

The latter happened to me both at OOTI and at Oklahoma! so part of me is wondering if it's to do with Circle In the Square somehow, as if the audience surrounding the stage makes people think it's less appropriate to clap? Because the audiences for each show, and the shows themselves, when I went were vastly different (OOTI was much younger and more diverse, and despite the target audience, the crowd for OK was much much older) and had similar reactions.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#4
Posted: 7/20/19 at 10:40pm

msmp said: "Itonlytakesajourney said: "A recent one for me was Mean Girls. It could’ve largely been my distaste for the show, but the jokes landed tepidly and the audience’s laughter was hit or miss. The cast did their absolute best with the material given, but I felt the audience wasn’t really into it.

Once On This Island was another experience where I honestly couldn’t tell if the audience was enjoying themselves or not. I know I certainly did, but the applause was again very tepid right up until the end. Made me cringe a bit when big numbers got halted/timid clapping, honestly.
"

The latter happened to me both at OOTI and at Oklahoma! so part of me is wondering if it's to do with Circle In the Square somehow, as if the audience surrounding the stage makes people think it's less appropriate to clap? Because the audiences for each show, and the shows themselves, when I went were vastly different (OOTI was much younger and more diverse, and despite the target audience, the crowd for OK was much much older) and had similar reactions.
"

I saw "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at the CITS twice and the audiences were very enthusiastic each time.  There were moments when the cast paused because audience responses became so raucous and so they ad-libbed. 

One performance that was muted was 'Elaine Stritch at Liberty' at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston a few years back.  There was muted laughter throughout but lots of aahs and oohs and during intermission I heard people saying how great the show was.  My perspective was that the CD and DVD had been out for some time at that point and many members of the audience were familiar with the show.  I don't think I Iaughed out loud once but I was thoroughly entertained and the standing ovation she received at the end was long and very enthusiastic.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#5
Posted: 7/20/19 at 10:53pm

Alice By Heart. So uncomfortable and awkward to be in the audience where people seemed either deceased or were fully on their phones.

Updated On: 7/20/19 at 10:53 PM
LLW2
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#6
Posted: 7/20/19 at 11:35pm

I haven’t noticed the whole audience having a bad time, but I’ve seen instances of individuals obviously having a bad time. The man in front of me at Wicked dozed off and was audibly snoring. (I couldn’t blame him. I don’t understand the appeal of Wicked and find it tedious and plodding.) When I saw Oklahoma!, one of the on-the-floor audience members Ado Annie chose to engage during “I Cain’t Say No" glared at her, unamused. I liked how Ali Stroker handled this — she became as serious as he was, not glaring back, but transforming from jokey to serious as if she were accepting his response.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#7
Posted: 7/21/19 at 12:05am
It’s not a Broadway story, but I saw The Woman In Black in London’s West End (phenomenal show btw) and there was a family in front of me who was clearly not enjoying themselves. The father was audibly snoring on several occasions, and the two teenage boys were play-fighting the entire second act, punching each other in the shoulders for shock factor when the scenes got tense. I even overheard the parents at the bar during intermission talking about how bored they were.

I was completely flabbergasted because it was honestly one of my favorite experiences in a theatre in my entire life. Needless to say I was so hypnotized by the production that it barely bothered me.
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#8
Posted: 7/21/19 at 12:40am

While this isn't Broadway, the worst audience response I have seen was a few months ago at a regional production of "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime". I love this play, I have seen recordings of it and have read it before, so I'm very familiar with it. I go into this show and it's a house full of subscription-based theatre goers, all much older people. I have no idea why, but they barely reacted to anything. There were these awkward moments after a scene where I wanted to clap, but no one else was, so I didn't and it just felt wrong. Even at the end of Act I, there was about 10 seconds of blackness before people knew it was intermission (the lady next to me actually asked if that was it). The biggest reaction the audience gave was at the puppy at the end, but that was it.

I had assumed it was an age thing (as maybe older people just didn't understand that play?), but I might be wrong on that. It's a shame too because the production was great, only with slight problems with minor actors flubbing their British accents. Also I saw another production there of Legally Blonde afterwards and the audience enjoyed that, so it's hard to say why that particular audience didn't give much of a reaction.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#9
Posted: 7/21/19 at 12:48am
This is definitely a small minority, but at Spongebob I did see some dissatisfied ppl that didn't want the fabulous show it was. They came expecting a theme park show, a show that might not have bothered them to think as hard as this did. That's right, I'm accusing Spongebob of being high brow
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#10
Posted: 7/21/19 at 5:27am

DoTheDood said: "While this isn't Broadway, the worst audience response I have seen was a few months ago ata regional production of "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime". I love this play, I have seen recordings of it and have read it before, so I'm very familiar with it. I go into this show and it's a house full of subscription-based theatre goers, all much older people. I have no idea why, but they barely reacted to anything. There were these awkward moments after a scene where I wanted to clap, but no one else was, so I didn't and it just felt wrong. Even at the end of Act I, there was about 10 seconds of blackness before people knew it was intermission (the lady next to me actually asked if that was it). The biggest reaction the audience gave was at the puppy at the end, but that was it.

I had assumed it was an age thing (as maybe older people just didn't understand that play?), but I might be wrong on that. It's a shame too because the production was great, only with slight problems with minor actors flubbing their British accents. Also I saw another production there of Legally Blonde afterwards and the audience enjoyed that, so it's hard to say why that particular audience didn't give much of a reaction.
"

Sometimes it's just the audience got that day. Im 99 percent sure I saw both of those same productions (family tickets to the Walnut are a family tradition of mine), and at the end of TCIotDitN was the biggest standing ovation I had seen there in years. And it was mostly the same kind of crowd age wise you described.  Also it was one of few times I cried in a theater, the scene between him and his father towards the end of act one after the Dad hits him was... it was the most tense audience I've been with, it was great.  Sometimes crowds just have good or bad energy. 

Also, this is going to sound pretentious but some shows should not have applause till the bows, or should have have the audience being comfortable, or should end in silence. Like if people applaud at the end of Cabaret it's a failure, as the ending of Cabaret is "You've been ignoring what's been going on with these characters, you loved the emcee despite his obvious turn to fascism, you would have made a good Nazi". One reason I hate the Sam Mendes production and every production that follows its example is that they turn the face of fascism into a tragic queer figure (as a queer person...I have issues with this), but it does get a desired effect. Rather than the audience leaving uncomfortable, or challenged and moved they get to pat themselves on the back for feeling bad for this man... even if that man was just singing a song about Jews being gorillas or about ignoring the plight of others or what's happening in the country in the name of the apathy that so powered the nazis god I HATE THIS VERSION SO... so a lot of times productions also have to be wary about who they're playing too and how to elicit the response they want, even if it means cheap choices, because just being very Good, doesn't mean the audience will be very good if that makes sense. While I mention Csbsret I will admit those productions know how to let its audience have fun, and while I don't agree with using fake writer representation that is immediately killed to make an audience comfortable with a fascist story, people leave those productions happier,  and that results in good energy. 

 

I went off on a tangent there.

 

My worst audience was for August Osage County on Broadway. I loved it, but the audience was tapping its toes, obviously disconnected, quiet, no applause at interval, and a lot of seats opened up for act 2 or 3, and I was able to move up. And I get that... not everyone is moved by misery. 

Updated On: 7/21/19 at 05:27 AM
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#11
Posted: 7/21/19 at 8:23am

I saw "Noises Off" many years ago and the audience was not enjoying the show, guess you either like slapstick comedy or you don't like it.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#12
Posted: 7/21/19 at 8:34am

I think al along audiences have had a bad times here and there. Nowadays though they're also selfish and insist on telegraphing it to everyone around them. 



"Hey little girls, look at all the men in shiny shirts and no wives!" - Jackie Hoffman, Xanadu, 19 Feb 2008
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#13
Posted: 7/21/19 at 8:43am

As an usher, you see there are always performances where the audiences are almost screaming with excitement..and then others where the audiences show no life at all and show little enthusiasm for anything. It’s the same show, the same cast, etc but there is just an intangible feel of each individual audience that varies widely.

Sometimes you can say maybe the Wed matinee audience is so different than say weekend matinee audiences and weekday nights are diff than Saturday night but the enthusiasm doesn’t always correlate to the day/time of the week.  I do feel that if an audience starts out enthusiastically, it often feeds on itself and so it remains energized fir the show.  If it starts out dead and flat, it’s harder to increase interest and  energy as the show progresses.

Sometimes you just scratch your head and wonder what went wrong (or right) for this performance.  

 

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#14
Posted: 7/21/19 at 9:07am

Oklahoma! The audience gave a rather half-hearted standing ovation (because that's what you do), and the cast was outstanding, but the "reimagined" production? The worst. The audience high-tailed out of there as soon as they could. My friend and I were just amazed at what a bizarre production it was.

Yes, I get that they are trying to show the formation of the United States as much uglier than we imagine. But between the "ballet", the weird dark video projections (Jud and Curly especially), and of course, the ending, it was weirder than I expected. And what was with Aunt Eller and the 20 boxes of Jiffy Cornbread mix? Isn't this 1906 or something? Whatever. 

I did see a Wed matinee in Chicago of "Hedwig" and the obviously blue hair subscription audience (disclaimer I would be a blue hair except for a lot of Loreal #5A) didn't get it at all, which I expected. I had seen a Friday evening performance of Hedwig with NPH in NYC which was fabulous, because the audience was so excited. 

 

Updated On: 7/21/19 at 09:07 AM
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#15
Posted: 7/21/19 at 9:20am
People see crowd size/ crowd reaction through their own filter. The vast majority of Oklahoma audiences are extremely enthusiastic.
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Audience Having a Bad Time?#16
Posted: 7/21/19 at 11:04am

Other than clapping *after* songs and after scenes and laughing when things are funny, I'm not sure that the audience should be showing more enthusiasm.  Any time that people are so enthusiastic that they feel they have to start screaming and applauding *over* a performer who is *still performing* just to show how excited they are, they prevent equally excited but less narcissistic theatre-goers from hearing the end of the song that they were so looking forward to hearing.   If screaming over the performers as if to say "don't listen to her gorgeous singing, listen to my off-putting screeching instead for the last 15 seconds of this song" is enthusiasm, then i for one wish for much less of it.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#17
Posted: 7/21/19 at 1:28pm

I saw Tootsie on a Wednesday afternoon in May,and the audience was pretty disinterested in the show.  They barely applauded at the end of Act 1, after the big production number, which validated my own opinion of the show.

Also, a couple of years ago, the audience for The Play That Went Wrong was definitely not into the show.  It just didn't get many laughs at all.  At the curtain call, the applause were tepid at best.

Interestingly, the audiences at King Lear cheered like it was opening night; and, much to my surprise, the audience at Gary applauded incredibly loudly.

The worst I ever remember, though, was probably for Mack and Mabel, 44 years ago.  It was very early in the short run, and the theatre was very crowded, if not full.  One-third of the audience left during the curtain call, and the others gave the most tepid applause imaginable.  I still remembered thinking at the time that Robert Preston (a huge Broadway star, whose visits had become rare), and Bernadette Peters (a star in the making) must have been embarrassed by the curtain call.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#18
Posted: 7/21/19 at 1:55pm

Jarethan said: "I saw Tootsie on a Wednesday afternoon in May,and the audience was pretty disinterested in the show. They barely applauded at the end of Act 1, after the big production number, which validated my own opinion of the show."

I actually just saw Tootsie the other day. The audience as a whole was definitely eating it up. There was very enthusiastic applause and laughter throughout, but just not in my section, oddly enough. The people ahead of me hardly, if ever, applauded, and the man next to me didn't laugh once. Overheard a conversation amongst a group a few rows ahead of me in which they thought the show was mediocre, and they got a few nods in agreement in their direction.

 

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#19
Posted: 7/21/19 at 5:19pm

JuneJune, curious as to how your audience reacted to the Act 1 closing number.  i was really disappointed, as I have come to expect big Act 1 closing numbers to be showstoppers, which it was not.  I knew the audience was not into the show at that point, because of the  really tepid applause (all the numbers had tepid applause, to be honest).  

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#20
Posted: 7/21/19 at 5:51pm

Jarethan said: "Interestingly, the audiences at King Lear cheered like it was opening night; and, much to my surprise, the audience at Gary applauded incredibly loudly."

The time I saw Gary, I noticed the audience was super into too. Seeing the reviews, it might have just been a good day, but I feel like I enjoyed the show more because of it. It's so odd that something like that probably changes people's opinion of a show as a whole, it can't be directly effected and yet changes every night.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#21
Posted: 7/21/19 at 6:04pm

LuPita2 said: "Alice By Heart.So uncomfortable and awkward to be in the audience where people seemed either deceased or were fully on their phones."

I saw Alice by Heart at a midweek matinee full of school kids who seemed so bored (asleep, on phones, heads in their hands) that I thought, "if this is their intro to theater, they're never coming back."

And at the Friday night final performance of Galas during World Pride Weekend, the entire audience seemed to have checked out en masse except for one man taking flash photos who was severely reprimanded by Everett Quinton.

 

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#22
Posted: 7/21/19 at 6:04pm

At cats a majoraty of the audience was asleep or on their phones before the end of act one

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#23
Posted: 7/21/19 at 6:12pm

What's with people going on their phones during a show? I would rather them get up and just leave the performance at that point if you are that bored. Why waste your time, money, convenience, and other people's ability to enjoy a show when you clearly don't want to be there? Maybe it's just me, but I could never be on a phone during a show, even to just check the time. That just feels super rude to everyone in and everyone watching the show.

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#24
Posted: 7/21/19 at 7:09pm

Of course it's rude, but the majority of people don't care about other people's enjoyment of things. It's nothing they are thinking about while watching a show. Very depressing and infuriating. 

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Audience Having a Bad Time?#25
Posted: 7/21/19 at 8:31pm

Jarethan said: "Interestingly, the audiences at King Lear cheered like it was opening night"

They were cheering that it was finally over.