Wikipedia defines a Standing Ovation as a form of applause where members of a seated audience stand up while applauding after extraordinary performances of particularly high acclaim.
It’s a form of celebration that dates back to ancient Rome and is one of the highest forms of thanks or praise afforded to a performer in the theatre or at least it used to be.
In times past, the Standing Ovation was something that was given by audiences to exceptional or outstanding performances. There are stories in the annals of theatre history which have Standing Ovations lasting for up to half an hour at farewell performances, other productions use dance dominated curtain calls to get the crowds on their feet proclaiming ” A Standing Ovation Every Night”, which whilst the show may have been good is probably more than a slight exaggeration.
Of late, the practice of standing ovations has even led commentators to speak of the “Curse of the Standing Ovation“. The obligatory standing ovation used to be a particularly American thing, with more reserved British audiences holding back such displays for exceptional occasions, but of late that seems to have changed.
When it comes to musicals now in the West End, nearly all seem to be greeted by a standing ovation. I’ve seen some thoroughly dreadful performances greeted with the majority of the audience standing. Is it a case that audiences don’t know the difference between a good and a mediocre performance?, do audiences assume that standing is de rigueur as part of the theatrical experience?, have theatre directors comes to design their shows to encourage standing at the end of a show?
In thew past year I’ve even experienced mid-show standing ovations at both Gypsy and Dreamgirls (Both outstanding performances).
We’d like to know your thoughts on the practice. When you go to the theatre, how often do you stand at the end of a performance? What makes you stand at the end of a show? Does standing now mean anything at all?
Let us know your thoughts.