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Length of shows??

Printed From: Community Theater Green Room
Category: Producing Theater
Forum Name: Other Topics
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Printed Date: 7/24/24 at 1:27am
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Topic: Length of shows??
Posted By: Majicwrench
Subject: Length of shows??
Date Posted: 11/03/11 at 4:06pm
 Thinking back on the last few shows I have done, I have kept them all short. The longest show I have done lately was 1hr 15 minutes. 
 How long of show do you produce?? Do you prefer longer (2hr) shows??

Posted By: Scott B
Date Posted: 11/03/11 at 9:23pm
I prefer a 2 act show for a full evening of entertainment, but it certainly doesn't have to be 2 hours.  That's actually too long for my old body.  I prefer about 90 minutes broken into 2 acts, but if the show flows nicely then one act with an hour fifteen or hour and a half is just fine.

Posted By: Rorgg
Date Posted: 11/04/11 at 11:08am
I think 80-85 minutes is a minimum, 90 preferred.  And you shouldn't get near 3 hours unless you're doing Sondheim.

Posted By: Majicwrench
Date Posted: 11/04/11 at 12:04pm

 This post was inspired when I got a call a week ago from a friend in a nearby town, they are starting a theatre group ( lots of talented folks) but the first show they were inviting me to was THREE HOURS LONG  and something they had wrote. I declined the invitation.

  I have been to too many shows that just drug along.  Esp with young people in the audience, I feel they should be fast, high energy, and as tight as possible.

Posted By: edh915
Date Posted: 1/26/12 at 12:14pm
You sometimes need three hours.  Look at "August: Osage County" or "Long Day's Journey Into Night" or "Morning's At Seven."  That having been said, a three-hour show that they they wrote themselves has got to be deadly!

I prefer to keep things in two acts and under 2 hours - the limit being 2 hours, plus a 15-minute intermission.

What I don't like is the wave of new shows we're getting that run 80 to 90 minutes with no intermission. 

Posted By: Scott B
Date Posted: 1/26/12 at 3:27pm
If I were to look at our local audience ... I would say please try to do something with an intermission.  (But not all audiences are the same.)  I think a break is good.  Not to mention it gives an opportunity to sell a few concessions. Wink

Seriously though ... sometimes it's just nice to stretch the legs a bit.

A three hour show?  Whether I've heard of it or not ... I wouldn't be going.

Posted By: Majicwrench
Date Posted: 1/26/12 at 9:46pm
 If I can keep em about an hour, I don't do intermission, I feel it can really break the spell. Another good reason for short shows. Am working on one now, "Many are the Hearts" a Civil War piece, that with a bit added is about 55 minutes. It will not have an intermission. Then onto Midsummer Night's Dream, yes, that one WILL have an intermission, but I am cutting it down to size.

Posted By: falstaff29
Date Posted: 1/26/12 at 10:39pm
Few shows warrant three hours; I can only think of three playwrights who have written stuff that could keep me interested past the three-hour mark: Eugene O'Neill, Shakespeare, and Aeschylus.

If your show runs past 2 h, 15 m even, it's probably ill-paced (either as a matter of writing or directing).  Of course, it depends somewhat on the genre; comedies should fly, dramas should breathe (note I didn't say drag!).

As far as intermissions, trust the playwright!  He/she is usually right.  I've seen (and been in) shows where the directors play around with the intermissions, to cut a three-acter into two or break up a one-act.  BAAAAD IDEA.  It throws everything off.  Even if one of the intermissions in a three-act play is just a five-minute reset, the audience has earned that pause.

Some of my most favorite shows are intermissionless and deserve to be: Talley's Folly and Picasso at the Lapin Agile, for example.

It's really a matter of the material.

Posted By: MusicManD
Date Posted: 2/05/12 at 12:04am
I don't know... I figure a short show runs the risk of the audience not feeling they get their money's worth.

Our CT just did Jungle Book, Jr, for their kids' musical.  It ran about 25 minutes in the first act, 15 in the second.  Honestly, it felt awkward, and had I paid for it (one of my students was in it and gave me a comp ticket), I would have felt a little slighted (the ticket prices were the same as any other show.

If the show is good, I don't care if it's long.  As I recall, isn't the first act of "Wicked" at least 90 minutes?  I was enthralled.  And I was watching it on somebody else's bootlegged video (that kept going black every time an usher walked by).  A good story takes as long as it takes to tell it.  No more, no less.

Posted By: edh915
Date Posted: 6/19/13 at 2:09pm
I recently finished directing a production that was an evening of four one-acts with one fifteen-minute intermission half-way through.

I had initially anticipated that each half of the show would last about 45 minutes, so that, with the intermission, we'd run about 1 hr 45 min.

As it turned out, once the actors were up to speed, it was more like 35 minutes each half - so we started at 8:00 and were done at 9:25.

It was very well received, but more than one audience member, as they were leaving, felt compelled to remark that they were expecting the show to last until at least 10:00 pm.

So that's what I'll be using as my gold standard in the future.

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