First Impressions: The Warm-Up Guy

Have you ever watched a television game show and wondered why the studio audience were so much more excited than you that the contestant was able to correctly answer an incredibly simple question? Well, Grease has latched onto the television secret of . . . the Warm-up Guy!

Bert Newton (Vince Fontaine)
Photo Credit: Jeff Busby

Every live television show wants their audience to appear overly energetic. Why? So that some of that energy flows through to the people sitting on their couch at home. And they achieve this manic cheering by warming the audience up with some jokes from a comedian or running competitions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have this same overly-excited audience in the theatre? Not only would less enthusiastic audience members get caught up in the hype (causing them to approach the show with a more positive mindset), but the performers would put on a better show because they are getting a great reception from the audience.

I must admit that I was a bit scared when I first heard that Grease started the show with a sing-a-long of the rather tricky lyrics from ‘We Go Together’ – Rama-Lama-Lama Ka-Ding-It Y Ding-De-Dong etc. It would be hard enough to get an excited audience to attempt saying these random phrases at any speed, let along one that has just walked into the theatre.

But I had missed their secret weapon. The best warm-up guy this side of the equator . . . Bert Newton!

Bert Newton has been cast as Vince Fontaine in this new production of Grease. And for the ten minutes preceding the curtain rising, Bert is frequently wheeled out in his makeshift radio station to initiate the crowd into the 1950s.

In true Bert Newton style, jokes are made at the audience’s expense – especially those who are celebrating a birthday while seeing the show – and the whole audience is encouraged to applaud those special individuals. There are also out-of-place requests for songs such as Anthony Callea’s ‘The Prayer’ (which won’t be recorded for another 50 years) by Mrs. Callea. But by far the most effective was the competition.

Everybody loves a good competition and this audience were no different. I’m not going to ruin it for anybody who hasn’t seen the show yet, but make sure you get a program so you can participate because the prize is allegedly very good! However, what I will tell you is that any winners had to make a fool of themselves in front of everyone in the theatre. This had everybody in hysterics and already warmed up for a sing-a-long.

But warming the audience up has a greater purpose than preparation for a sing-a-long. Already being in hysterics means that the patrons are in a positive mindset. As a result, they are going to find the on stage jokes funnier, the performances more astounding and they are going to have a good time at Australia’s #1 Party Musical. This leads to fantastic evaluations of the show in the consumers’ heads.

And you know what this means? The creation of brand advocates. People who will actively go out onto the street shouting ‘Grease is the Word’ and encouraging friends, family and passers-by to get a ticket before they all sell out!

With that said. If you are looking for a great night out at the theatre then take my recommendation for Grease. For more information on season dates and how to purchase tickets before they disappear visit: http://greaseistheword.com.au/

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