Since the beginning of “The Fantasticks” in West Springfield, which opened on April 15th, I’ve been making notes about audience response.
Laughter and applause vary widely. My experience with classical music audiences has been that reactions are much more consistent.
A long run such as this (7 weeks) is a new experience for me. When I toured as pianist for The Norman Luboff Choir, we were on the road for 5 weeks, followed by a month off and another run of 4 weeks. The tour involved 3 programs of music that was switched around for each concert (announced from the stage), with no 2 programs exactly the same.
Although I have played in pit orchestras, repeating the same show, the performances spanned two weeks at most.
There seems to be a difference between theater audiences from night to night, depending on the day of the week.
Wednesdays are good.
Thursdays are wonderful.
On Fridays people are unresponsive. Tired, probably.
Saturdays have been good.
Sunday matinees are the best!
Sunday evenings are quiet again.
Question: why would someone pay for a ticket and then just sit there?
There is no comparison between the audiences on Sundays! What happens between 2:00 and 7:00? (We have played 3 Sunday evenings. Matinees are the only Sunday shows for the remainder of the run.)
Larger audiences are better.
Giggling teenagers are nice!
Laughter is contagious.
One Friday night audience was talking and laughing 15 minutes before the show, and then, right at the 8:00 curtain, nothing. We all noticed the noise before the show, and wondered what happened 15 minutes later. The reaction wasn’t even tepid. Oy.
An actor who has a very funny entrance said “We looked exactly the same last night…” (when they were laughing)
The following night, a Saturday, we were back to great. The audience was riotous! The applause was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves play during the curtain calls.
Yesterday’s matinee audience was obviously appreciative, but seemed reluctant to laugh during musical numbers. Following each number, there was extended applause and cheering. There was loud applause and cheering from my friends in the balcony following the exit music, too. : ) Thanks to Jane and Gretchen B. for taking care of that!
The chemistry between the audience and the actors affects our energy, of course. Not that we ever “phone it in,” but an audience that is involved helps us carry the show to a new level every time.
27 down, 9 to go. We’re all getting along great, working well together, love this show, and still think the music is beautiful. This is a truly wonderful experience!
If you’d like to see the show, visit http://majestictheater.com for info! The show has been extended for one week, through the 2:00 matinee on Sunday, May 30th.
Many thanks to C.I. for suggesting that this be a blog post.
New blog post coming on Mon. 2day I played VLO auditions, and am now en route 2 performance #28 of 38 for The Fantasticks!!!
When you perform the same thing every day for several weeks, you may be thinking “been there, done that.” I prefer to stay on top of things, and practice every day.
Why? Because I want:
- the Overture to be impressive
- the 3 notes I have with the lead actor to be together ~ the words each have their own requirements, making these 3 eighth notes are unequal
- my accented sparring music to match the actor’s rhythm
- to provide the best support possible
- to honor the dynamics in the score
- to avoid the inevitable decline in my playing that creeps in when I don’t practice
- to provide the best performance for the paying audience
- to perform the show for the first time every night
- to listen to dynamics, articulation, and phrasing ~ it is difficult to hear accurately, or sometimes at all, in the pit
- I never “phone it in”
- I never play on auto-pilot
- I always reinvent music I’m performing again
- I always look for new discoveries
- I always make it better
Do you make time to practice? Please comment below.
In answer to a reader’s search, either can work. I prefer the page turner to be at my left and turn from the top of the page, ensuring that I can always see the keyboard. But when space will not permit that, turning from the right can work.
You may want to practice for a few minutes with your page turner to become accustomed to the arrangement.
We’ve finished the first half of the show’s run. 3-1/2 weeks down, 3-1/2 to go.
Ha! I’ve been on the bus so much, with the same drivers, even when I showed the back side of my ID, the driver beeped me in.