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The Best & Worst Things to Say to Performers by Mikael

“That was such a fun show!”

“Love the energy!”

Those were some of the responses to my most recent production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. While with that kind of show, it’s normal for it to be fun thanks to it’s wide variety of styles of songs. After hearing it so many times though, I got to thinking about what the best and worst comments to receive after a show are. As in from audience to performer/cast member. Here’s what I got:

The Good Comments

1. “What a fun show! I really enjoyed that!”

Every artist loves to hear their work is enjoyable or makes someone smile.

2. “Wow, that was a really good! It’s hard to find something to critique.”

This usually comes from fellow theatre peeps or people who know more than the average joe about them performing arts. Makes other performers do a silent fist pump, but they smile really big and say, “Really? Thanks so much!”

3. Genuine smile with a “Good job!”

Not overly enthusiastic, and not bad either! They enjoyed it but it didn’t make a big impact. Rather this, then these below…

*   *   *

The Bad Comments

1. “That was… interesting.”

Yeah, no… that means they didn’t enjoy it, thought it was strange or likely fell asleep.

2. “Well, you (and/or so-and-so) were good.”

A total cop-out. Trying to flatter the actor while silently inferring that the rest was crap (or just not very good).

I have gotten this one before (long time ago). Like a slap in the face to everyone I worked with. Even if I agree, it’s hard to hear since you’ve developed relationships with these other artists.

3. “It wasn’t my favorite show, but not bad.”

They are trying to be honest which is good. They didn’t love the show though and that tends to make a performer a little disappointed. They did put in all that work…

*   *   *

The Worst Comments

1. A forced smile with a “Nice job” attached to it.

Just… no. Not good. Walk away. They don’t even have the nerve to be authentic or say, “I didn’t like it. Sorry.”

2. Not even making it through the show…

Honestly. If someone walks out during the show or leaves during intermission, they hate it and the performers (if they learn about it) will feel horrible.

Personally I’ve only ever left one show at intermission and that was because I’ve never been so bored out of my mind and the fog machine clearly wanted to suffocate me. It was Julius Caesar and I wanted to stay alive. I literally couldn’t breathe. And the whole of Stratford-Upon-Avon right outside waiting for me to check it out; it was my first time there. I have no regrets. The next show I saw there was much better anyway and the fog machine was, thankfully, turned off.

3. “That was awful! I don’t know why I sat through that.”

Honesty–good. Message–bad. No one wants to hear this, but if it’s true, what can you do? The silent treatment would be preferable. Or at least being told in private so other people don’t overhear.

*   *   *

The Best Comments

1. “I cried it was so good!”

You made people feel all the feelings. Mission accomplished. :D

2. “You made me understand this show/its message/that character so much better than anyone before.”

I actually got this one last year when played Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Knowing that I played the role in such a way that someone liked it better… is awesome.

3. “That show really spoke to me. The message was so clear and it deeply affected me/changed my life. Thank you.”

Anyone ever says this, hug them. They need it and and deserve it. Possibly the very best comment a performer can receive.

And my personal favorite… 

3. “You should be on Broadway.”

Anyone tells you this, you know you’re good and you know they liked your performance. … And yes, I’ve been told that before too. But that’s between me and you, okay?

*   *   *

As far as giving comments/critiques to any performer, I only ask this: be genuine and be honest. If you didn’t like it, tell them. Just don’t go on a rant about how you hated such-and-such. They’ll get the picture without the whole enchilada. And if you like it or even love it… tell them in as much detail as you can. ;)

So what are your thoughts on this list? Any others you think should be on it? 

What’s the best/worst compliment you’ve offered a performer/performance before?


2 Comments so far
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I saw a community theatre performance of RENT last year (maybe it was two years ago now? I don’t know) and while all-in-all it was amazing and well-cast, the actress that played Maureen was PHENOMENAL. She was the best Maureen I’ve ever seen in any version of RENT I’ve ever seen. I regret not sticking around to tell her so. Even if I forget everything else about that performance, I will remember her.

Comment by Kelly L.

Ah you should have told her! ;) that’s awesome though. Where was it at?

Comment by Mikael

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