Summer 1985 • Vol. VII No. 3 1985 Ohio Shakespeare Conference |

Shakespeare Closing

By 1970, a remarkable change had come over theater audiences in New York. For the first time in the experience of regular playgoers, audiences became extraordinarily demonstrative. I recall precisely the first time I encountered this new behavior. It was at a performance of the revival of No, No, Nanette with Ruby Keeler. The wild reaction may have been a campy tribute to Ruby or a surprised appreciation at the durability of a musical from 1925. Whatever the stimulus, large sections of the audience received the finale with cries of "brava." They stood up to applaud and in a kind of ecstasy poured a torrent of approval upon the astonished actors. After this, whenever I went to see a play, I saw—and heard—similar enthusiasm. Cries of bravo—which hitherto had been the hallmark of the opera audience—became common. Standing ovations, at one time a rarity reserved only for the brightest star, became routine. A social change had taken place. The conventional, muted, supposedly

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