If you’ve hired an entertainer to deliver a stage show at your next big event, and it’s not in a theater, then there are some things you should know. A big part of whether the show is a success has nothing to do with the quality of entertainment. Even the best performers can be set up to fail if the venue in which they are performing in is not properly set for a stage show. Here are some things to keep in mind in order to ensure you receive the best possible show:
When possible, eliminate tables.
Having the audience seated at round tables means that only a small portion of the audience is looking directly at the stage. This scenario is not great because the focus of each person is on the other people at their table. Therefore, an audience seated at tables is more likely to socialize with each other instead of watching the show. Of course, a simple solution is to ask people before the show starts to turn their chairs so they are facing the performer. However, a bigger problem still exists.
Tables occupy a lot of space and make a show feel less intimate. If your event has a lot of people attending then that means the people sitting at the tables furthest from the stage will often be at a great distance from the entertainer and they will feel like they are not part of the show.
Also, tables put a barrier between audience members. This barrier can diminish the energy a great show elicits from an audience – laughter, applause, awe, etc. – which often spreads like wildfire from one person to another, but only if the audience is seated closely together. An audience that is separated by tables is less likely to respond in unison because they may feel they are not part of a group. This scenario can inhibit an audience to react at all and a lack of audience response makes a show fall flat.
The ideal setup is to have people seated in rows of chairs that are positioned close to the stage.
If this is not possible and tables are a must, then there a few things you can do in order to make sure your entertainer delivers the best show possible. Make an announcement instructing people to turn their chairs towards the stage before introducing the entertainer. You will also want to make sure you eliminate tall centerpieces so that everyone can see the stage. If you have a large audience and your budget allows for it, invest in image magnification (IMAG) so that people seated at the tables furthest from the stage can see all the action.
Lastly, consider having a seating area in front of the stage for a portion of your audience. Tables are a requirement for banquets at which people are having dinner. Following dinner, you can instruct the people seated at the tables furthest from the stage to be seated at the chairs near the stage. The rest of your audience can remain seated where they are.
Never have a dance floor between the stage and the audience.
Like tables, but even more so, dance floors suck all the energy from a show if the stage is between the performer and the audience. If you’re having your event in a banquet room, then there’s a good chance a dance floor will be present. If you can, don’t set the stage in front of it. If you need to position the stage so the dance floor is in front of it, then there a few things you can do.
If you won’t be using the dance floor for dancing, then you will want to seat people on it so that they are close to the stage. Remember, the closer your audience is to the stage the more they will feel like they are part of the action.
If you will be using the dance floor then here is a simple solution. Just before the start of the show have the facility fill in the dance floor with rows of chairs for seating. The picture above shows me performing at a corporate event in which this was the scenario. The client had the people furthest from the stage relocate to chairs placed on the dance floor so they would be seated right in front of the stage. After the show, these chairs were quickly removed and the dancing commenced.
It’s important for you to make sure you eliminate all distractions during the entertainment portion of your event so that the performer is able to deliver the best show possible and your audience can enjoy it.
Never have the show during dinner. Schedule the entertainment after people are finished eating. An audience can’t appreciate, let alone be involved in an interactive show if their faces are in their plates half the time. Furthermore, having waiters delivering dishes to tables is extremely distracting for both the audience and entertainer. Some performers, myself included, will not even book a show if the client is adamant on having the entertainment during dinner.
Don’t introduce an entertainer until you are sure you have the audience’s attention. People socialize when they eat and that conversation continues after dinner. So it’s important to get the attention of your guests before making any sort of introduction for the show to begin. Otherwise, that socializing can carry over to the start of the show and lessen the overall experience for those who are paying attention.
Make an announcement prior to the show that instructs people to not use their cell phones during the show. Having people texting or talking on their phones is extremely distracting for both the artist and audience.
You paid good money for quality entertainment. Let your entertainer shine and your audience will thank you for the fun they had.
Experienced entertainers will send a tech rider. Tech riders often include staging, sound, light, and other requirements that an artist needs in order to deliver the best show possible. Make sure you follow the entertainer’s tech instructions; otherwise they may be unable to deliver the show you contracted them to perform.
Let the artist know if for some reason you’re unable to meet a tech requirement. Most professionals are flexible in their needs. He or she may be able to provide an alternative that will solve the problem.
Chances are good that if you’ve booked world-class entertainment and you follow the above guidelines, then you will receive a world-class show that your guests will remember for a long time to come.