A Cranky Houseguest

I partook in Grapes of Wrath as my first offering at the Zachary Scott Theatre here in Austin as it barrels on toward summer unapologetically, and I come away with two things:

The tyranny of heightened expectations, and the rules for Standing Ovations.

I paid $40 for the ticket, and another $7.50 because Zach cuts off their internet sales at some point before 3:00 day of show and I had to spend 90 second talking to box office staff.

For $47.50 I expect a lot. I expect polished finished sets, and a little flash. I expect moderately comfortable accommodations. I expect consistent great performances. And all things told? The set was clean and appropriate, and I always love rain on stage. The actual accommodations weren’t bad, though the people traffic wasn’t my favorite.

But the performances were uneven, and for half a day’s take home (and three times what I charge) I want my ass kicked. Make no mistake, there was greatness on stage last night. Janelle Buchanon Jarret Mallon, and Marc Pouhe were everything I love in performance. And the musical choices, performances, and singing were top notch.

But there was a tad too much hee haw for me in what is at its core a funeral march. Not that it can’t have it’s lighter moments of course. Not that it doesn’t NEED it’s lighter moments. For me those lighter moments shouldn’t equal slapstick with a play that has this tone.

And you know what? I’m being unfair. I liked the show. I had a good time.  But I paid a lot for my ticket, and I want the moon.


And of course the audience stood at the end.

The “inflated A” of the theatre world.

Look. I stand because I have to. Because I have no choice. Because something intangible reached down, latched on just below my heart and dragged me to my feet.

If I stand at your show? I’m not being polite. Applauding is polite. Standing is (or should be) the 30% tip of the performance world.

I ain’t clapping because your famous and making an entrance, and I ain’t standing because I paid $50 ( or $100 or $200) for my ticket.

You want a standing ovation from me? Knock it out of the park.

  • We in Phoenix are plagued by running into the climactic scene on such a comedic high that, at times, audience members are chuckling right through the poignant and cathartic moments. And, these are the performances that seem to garner the standing ovation. These experiences are both baffling and disheartening for me. I leave wondering if I should've stopped for that cup of coffee on the way to the theater. A little rocket fuel might have given me the boost I needed to giggle through 80min with a character who is lost and then found again. Maybe it all just means too much to me.

  • We in Phoenix are plagued by running into the climactic scene on such a comedic high that, at times, audience members are chuckling right through the poignant and cathartic moments. And, these are the performances that seem to garner the standing ovation. These experiences are both baffling and disheartening for me. I leave wondering if I should've stopped for that cup of coffee on the way to the theater. A little rocket fuel might have given me the boost I needed to giggle through 80min with a character who is lost and then found again. Maybe it all just means too much to me.