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Attentive Audiences Are Valued By Those On Stage

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             DEAR ABBY - June 5, 2007 
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ABBY: My thanks to "Lauren in Cave Creek, Ariz." (March 19) 
for raising the subject of concert etiquette. It's one of 
those awkward subjects because everyone knows there is a 
proper way to do it, but no one knows what the proper way 

When attending a concert, look carefully at your program. 
Often it will indicate where to clap. If not, determine 
how the musical pieces are arranged. Are they in sets of 
two or three pieces? If so, clap after the set is completed, 
NOT after each individual piece. The pieces in a set were 
arranged to flow one into the other. Clapping breaks the 
flow and mood the composer was trying to convey.

And while we're on the subject of concert manners: As a 
musician and music teacher, I attend many concerts every 
year, and I'm appalled at the number of people who talk in 
the middle of a musical number. Whispering to your neighbor 
between pieces is fine, but talking during a musical number 
at a concert or dance recital (or during an act of a play 
or musical) is a big no-no! Please get the word out, Abby. 
This is something everyone should know. 

MS. "D": I hope my readers will take note of your informed 
advice. Lauren's letter caused a flurry of comments from 
folks connected with the arts. Read on:



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ABBY: I'm a stage manager, the person who sits in the booth 
and cues lights, actors, scenery, etc. Part of my job is to 
do a report each night that is sent to the members of the 
production team, and gauging audience response is part of 
that report.

One of the wonderful things about art is that it provokes 
emotion and/or a response. This is vital to the performers 
on stage, as they feed on the energy that the audience 
puts forth. An audience that is unresponsive or repressed 
(referred to as "dead") is much harder to play for. 
Clapping in the middle of a piece is acceptable if it's to 
recognize something particular, such as a stylistic move 
or a soloist.

Performers are usually trained professionals. When applause 
comes in the middle of a piece, the performers often 
anticipate it because there is an audience "energy" that 
precedes it. Unnatural things such as cell phones (even 
when they vibrate), rustling candy wrappers and cameras 
are infinitely more distracting and do far more to interrupt 
a performance. So I say, as long as the clapping is respect-
ful and honest, please clap! I hope this view from the 
"other side of the curtain" is helpful. 
-- S.M.P. in WINOOSKI, VT.

ABBY: As an actor, director and frequent audience member, 
I can assure "Lauren" that applause is expected after songs 
in a musical, but not appreciated in the middle of dramatic 
plays. One more thing: If it's a comedy, please laugh if 
you think something is funny. Good actors are prepared to 
deal with laughs whenever they come. 

ABBY: At jazz performances, it's traditional to applaud 
after each featured soloist, as well as at the end of the 

ABBY: Mozart, in a letter to his father, reported that at 
the premiere of his "Paris" symphony, the audience actually 
applauded in the middle of the last movement. Was young 
Wolfgang offended? Not in the least! He wrote that he was 
so happy he recited a rosary on the spot! 

ABBY is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as 
Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline 
Phillips. Write ABBY at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box  
69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. 

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