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Applause and Laughter

February 18, 2011

After the madness of tech week, applause and laughter can really trip you up, even though it’s what you were hoping for the whole time. Timing for laughter is more the director’s territory than yours, unless it comes in the middle of a number, but you must allow time for the audience to laugh. If you don’t take a little time to give people permission to laugh, they’ll stifle their laughter, and you won’t hear any. People in the audience don’t want to miss any important information, so they will remain quiet. And that’s less enjoyable for everybody.

Applause is similar, and there’s an art to timing the applause segue just right so that the playoff or change music starts at just the right time. You want to start the next number just a moment after the applause peaks. You can hear the applause getting louder, and then at some point it starts to dip a little, and that’s the moment you GO! Starting the segue too early deprives the audience of the satisfaction of the full applause they wanted to give, and starting too late kills the momentum. It’s a psychological game, and the good music director knows just the moment to get things going again.

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