"You've been a wonderful audience!"
That's the final line spoken on stage by countless comics, magicians, singers, and... the list goes on. Or, it would if my thoughts could keep up with my typing. For those who've never performed regularly for audiences, this line may seem like an empty courtesy, rather than a genuine thanks. Granted, a lot of the time it may be, but that just comes out of habit, I'm sure.
The fact is, the audience plays a huge role in the success of a show. In children's shows this is often even more apparent. The audience's energy, feedback, and attention, play a vital role in the performer's ability to deliver.
Same show, different audience
While the exact content of my shows to change from performance to performance, the core of each of my acts remains the same. In fact, the intro to each version of my magic act is nearly the same for each audience I perform for. Yet, the first ten minutes of the show can feature anything from constant laughter to quiet appreciation, and on the (fortunately) rare occasion, verbal disrespect (I thought hard about how to phrase that...). Whatever the reaction of the audience is, deeply affects the rest of the show. The pace, the energy level, the types of magic I perform...
In fact, like many performers, each of my acts include a litmus test at the start. It's a very short routine that almost always results in great feedback from the audience -- usually screams and laughter. The way they react tells me how the rest of the show will go, and often what direction to take the show, so that I'm able to maintain or gain the laughter and cheers the show needs.
The point here is, the show will change because of the audience. They are the variable.
Audience reactions are contagious. That's why larger audiences are so often better for a show than smaller audiences. That's why sitcoms use laugh-tracks, and why many people enjoy a movie more at the theatre than at home. If people around you are having fun with the show, the more likely you will as well. Conversely, the more people around you that aren't enjoying the show, the more likely you won't enjoy the show.
In a children's show, one or two kids can easily poison the group. In situations where peer pressure is extra powerful, such as a school environment, when someone in the audience makes it clear they aren't enjoying the show, it affects all the people around them, often robbing them off the chance to have a good time.
So, thank you
So, thank you! Thank you for being a good audience. When you enter the show wanting to have a good time, and you let the performer know you're having a good time through laughter and applause, you are actually making the show better. You're helping the performer give a better performance, and you're helping all the people around you have a better time.