Do I want to see a show sooner or later in its run?
December 20, 2010 6:42 PM   Subscribe

So, theatre and music folks, question for you - if a venue is hosting two presentations only of a concert/performance, and they're two nights in a row, on which night am I more likely to see the better show?

The first night because performers are fresh, or the second night because the performers have become more familiar with their surrroundings? I'm thinking of ballets, concerts, musicals, Cirque du Soleil-type shows, etc. - outfits that travel the country. I understand that this question may not be totally suitable to generalizing, but I'm sure the responses will be helpful nevertheless. Thanks!
posted by analog to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Often one is all-ages, and one is 21+. At least as far as musical acts go.

Choose the latter option.
posted by adiabat at 6:52 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: With tours the days and venues all tend to blend together. So it's less about how many days at a stop and more about how many days until the next break. I would say your best bet is to see a tour during the middle third. Then everybody has had a chance to settle into the show and tour and hasn't had a chance to start dreaming of home. That said professionals should be professionally and the show should be pretty much the same depending on how the audience reacts that night.
posted by Uncle at 6:53 PM on December 20, 2010

I've never found there to be a rule about what night of two (or three) is the "best." Actors will feed off their audience, and a packed house usually leads to more energy on stage, but even a full audience can be devoid of energy. It's a fickle thing. There's a lot of other things going on with such a show that will factor more greatly into performance quality than choice of night. A live show is almost never "optimal" for some reason or other (strong actors, working tech, or live audience: pick two.)
posted by Wulfhere at 6:53 PM on December 20, 2010

Since it seems like you're not asking with a specific event in mind, I'll sidestep your question a little bit. I did a lot of three night engagements (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), and Saturday was always the worst. Friday the performance has a ton of energy, and Sunday it's more polished. Saturday is kind of like the Wednesday of the performances (middle of the week, tired).
posted by telegraph at 6:55 PM on December 20, 2010

Best answer: I'm an actor. Second show, absolutely.
posted by Evangeline at 7:00 PM on December 20, 2010

Response by poster: If it helps: I am looking at a few different options as an Xmas gift for my mum (and for me to go with her) - two of the options are the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's 'Moulin Rouge' and Cirque du Soleil's 'Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.' But other choices present the same 'when should I go' dilemma.
posted by analog at 7:00 PM on December 20, 2010

Best answer: When I've acted in plays, the first night and the final night are always the best. The second night is probably also good if it's a long run, because you have a bit more polish than the first night, but the new energy is still there. If there are only two nights, I really don't think it matters much, but I'd probably tend to the second night anyway.
posted by lollusc at 7:06 PM on December 20, 2010

Best answer: I'm thinking of ballets, concerts, musicals, Cirque du Soleil-type shows, etc. - outfits that travel the country.

If it's a tour, chances are the performers will be equally good both nights. The same people are traveling all over the country doing this same show, over and over and over.

Unless maybe this is the very beginning of the tour, in which case I'd pick night #1 just to say, "I saw the very first performance of the Bolshoi's latest/the new Circque du Soleil thing/whatever."

Otherwise, external factors like if one is an all ages show are the best way to decide.

As someone who has done a teensy bit of theatre, I find that opening night is the Most Exciting (!!!), whereas the second and third performances I'm more comfortable onstage (so probably the "better" performance).
posted by Sara C. at 7:11 PM on December 20, 2010

If there are stars or physical activities involved with the performers, I'd say there's a greater chance of seeing understudies on the second night.
posted by rhizome at 7:58 PM on December 20, 2010

Echoing that Saturday sucks in a Friday-Saturday-Sunday sort of weekend. Or rather, that audience energy is worse, which leads to blander performance.

This was ten years ago, of course, but my director said it was because people WANT to relax and "get into" a show on Friday after the workweek. On Saturday, they've already been relaxing and doing what they like all day, so performers have to compete with that. Relatively not as awesome, you see.

A professional traveling company who does 5-6 performances a week will not be as susceptible to this, but it was surely true for a small community theater company.
posted by supercres at 8:16 PM on December 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all! I checked the tour schedule, and I'm choosing the second night because the troupe seems to have more time off after that.... so hopefully everyone will be happy about their upcoming break and in a great mood for the show!
posted by analog at 7:31 PM on December 21, 2010

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