If D.C. has an overabundance of standing ovations, European theaters have a dearth. It will surprise no one to learn that European theatergoers — who attend shows more often than Americans and therefore, are more discerning — are less effusive in their praise.
Euan Morton, a Scottish actor appearing in Signature’s production of Chess, was nominated for a Tony in 2004 for his portrayal of Boy George in the musical Taboo. The show premiered in London’s West End, where praise in the form of standing ovations was tepid.
“In Taboo, I did 116 performances [on Broadway], and received 116 standing ovations,” says Morton. “That was my first experience in America. In London we got [a standing ovation] every two weeks.”
Not only will European audiences not stand for the curtain call, but they’ll react with hostility to a show that they feel is lackluster.
“Have you ever been in an audience where there was hissing and booing?” says psychologist Karl Scheibe. “It’s very disconcerting. It happens more often in Europe; the audiences there are more practiced. You can give A’s and A-plusses but also D’s and F’s.”