Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



BARCLAY GORDON: Whether Point dies or merely falls insensible, it is only moments until his curtain call. What is the most effective way to bring him back without spoiling the finale's melancholy mood before the audience has even left its seats?

DAVID CRAVEN: I think that the most effective way to end Yeomen of the Guard is to have Point die, the curtain drop and then rise on an empty stage. No bows, no curtain music, nothing. If the production was good, this will send the audience home with a very powerful reaction.

TOM SHEPARD: Speaking personally, I am against bringing him back, but if you really think you need to handle this, I suppose he can wiggle a toe or something if you feel that will cheer up the audience. But why? Since Gilbert's last action in the play is the fall of Point (Elsie and Fairfax have already embraced) this is indeed the last thing to happen in the opera and therefore it is the opera's final message: POINT IS MISERABLE. Whether he's live-miserable or dead-miserable is not quite as significant as it would be if you contrived something bogusly cheerful in order to palliate an anxious crowd. I think they should be anxious: Gilbert has told us that no good deed goes unpunished, that actions have consequences, that some happiness may unfortunately result in some reciprocal distress. I don't think WSG needs our help, unless you are playing your show primarily to children who are accustomed to "happily ever after." Yeomen is uniquely serious in the Canon of 14-I feel strongly that we should respect what makes it different from all the others, and not try to sugarcoat the ending.

DANIEL KRAVETZ: I think curtain calls are supposed to break the mood, and the performers, though still in costume, are no longer supposed to be in character. The purpose is to honor the actors, not the characters. If the show was well done, the mood will live on in everyone's memory, even if broken the second the opera is over. That's theater.

BILL SNYDER: Personally, I'd like to end it with a tableau for applause and no bows, but I just don't think I could bring myself to do that to my leads. If I had a fabulous Point, (or whomever) I'd want him to know that the audience thought as much of his performance as I did.

DAVID DUFFEY: Or the "traditional" one of having two returns with the final stage picture held, then if demanded, further returns with Point standing up and still, and the remainder of the cast turning to face the audience but from the place of their final position. No bows.

Then, of course, the orchestra breaks into an up-tempo version of "rapture, rapture" to play the audience out, or better still, the curtains return again and the chairman proceeds to hand out bouquets, read congratulatory telegrams and thank every individual, including the 2nd Citizen's Great-Aunt Maud who fashioned buckles for his shoes.

ROBERT JONES: I do think that audiences expect some sort of curtain call. Like credits after a film, a little cooling-down period helps people readjust to the real world. The spell can be uncomfortably broken when the house lights come on and the audience mutters, "Oh, is that it, then?"

A five-second stunned silence before a wild standing ovation would be gratifying enough.

BRUCE I. MILLER: One way of handling the curtain call transition is to have the first call rise on the final tableau; then for the 2nd call to have the company take bows. There's no reason why the actor playing Point should not appear for that; the audience isn't so naive as to be able to distinguish between applause for the work of the actors and the message of the play.

It has become trendy in some quarters to reject the concept of curtain calls. That begins to assume that every play is of such utter significance and IMPORTANCE that curtain calls are somehow false and undignified. The suggestion might then be raised that some people are taking themselves too seriously.

HARRIET MEYER: It may, as is said, be better to give than to receive, and it is often easier. As a nonperforming permanent audience fixture, I would like to say that after a performance, the audience who has received all evening, would like to give back, and it is a gift of the performers to the audience to allow this, via curtain calls and applause.

As for last impressions, I don't think the appearance of actors at curtain call overwrites their performances. I can think of many memorable performances but few specific curtain calls.

ED GLAZIER: As a performer, I like curtain calls. They feed my ego, what can I say? The Stanford Savoyards follow each performance with a thank you and an invitation to the audience to meet the cast in the rehearsal hall below the stage. Since the path to the rehearsal hall is not intuitively obvious, the person giving the brief speech gives directions to the hall. Generally, the speech has been given to the patter-baritone, regardless of the size of the role.

When we first staged the Yeomen finale when I played Point, I realized that I would be unable to make a curtain speech and so requested immediately that someone else make the speech. The finale moves me to tears both as an audience member and, unprofessionally, I fear, as a performer, so I knew I would be a mess at the end and a speechless bow would be all I could manage.

Page created 6 June 1997