The Dilution of the Value of the Broadway Show Standing OvationThe debates around what warrants a standing ovation on Broadway have raged on for years, but the practice of the standing ovation has long been a great way for the theatre audience to show their appreciation to a Broadway cast of how much they enjoyed seeing the actors’ talents, drive and determination that brought the stage to life from the words formed from the playwright’s heart and hand. Historically speaking, the standing ovation was a very special act that only the best performances could ever hope to receive, but how times have changed. The standing ovation is now often expected and even anticipated, and has thus become somewhat disingenuous. What once was a signal that the audience recognized and rewarded the exemplary performance of the evening has become passé, empty of meaning and divorced of its original intent. Now audiences will give a standing ovation to every show and every performance that treads the boards on Broadway, regardless of how good or bad the production actually was. With this, many stage actors today often expect nothing less than a standing “O” at every show. In an attempt to resolve this, Noel Turner, the President of New York Show Tickets Inc. has proposed that the standing ovation be changed to an “Ovation Donation” that increases charitable donations to a good cause while bringing back the true nature of the standing ovation, showing appreciation for only the very best performances.
Changing the Standing Ovation into “The Ovation Donation”The idea is that anyone at a Broadway show who wants to give a standing ovation is still welcome to, but they are asked to put $5 into the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS bucket that will be held by theatre staff at every exit of the theatre. Much like tipping your Uber driver, audiences will become much more selective in their choice of standing ovations and subsequent donating. If the performance is wonderful then audiences will donate with gusto, otherwise audiences may stay seated but still clap appreciatively. Stage actors will get a sense of how much they are collecting at the buckets for the charity, that will give them an excellent feedback mechanism so they can see how well they performed. The residual effect of the Ovation Donation will be two-fold. First, it will mean that a deserving charity receives an income boost for the great work that they do and secondly, the act of the standing ovation at a Broadway show, can return to becoming something special again, where it actually means something. The net result will be that the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will be happy and the actors will now get a true reading on their performance when audiences put their money where their clapping hands are. This is a wonderful opportunity for the theatre experience to regain some of things that make live theatre special and may have been lost.