How much is a standing ovation worth these days?

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I finally made it to “Caroline, or Change” at the Guthrie Theater last night. The show has received several rave reviews, and according to David Hawley at MinnPost, it’s “one of those transcendent events that one experiences only rarely in a lifetime of going to the theater.”

So it should be of no surprise that “Caroline, or Change” received a standing ovation at the end of the evening. Goodness knows Minnesota audiences tend to err on the side of a standing ovation, even when it’s more to say “good job, nice try.” What struck me was the nature of the ovation. When Greta Oglesby (Caroline) walked out on stage, there was a simultaneous surge of energy throughout the theater as everyone leapt to their feet and roared with applause and cheers. It was the most sudden and unanimous ovation I’d ever experienced.

I left wondering if a theater’s performance should no longer be judged by whether or not it earns a standing ovation, but by some more refined tool that could break down ovations into different types. “Ah yes, you received an ovation that registered a 3.4 on the richter scale – that translates to a C+ rating…”