Muck Up Matinée

The muck up matinée refers to the last matinée performance of any long running production, where tradition dictates that it is okay for actors to play tricks on each other or change lines and blocking.  Although it is highly unprofessional to mess around onstage and veer from the choreography or direction, most professional casts will participate in the mucking up to some extent.  


The general consensus is that for any jokes played, the audience must either be unaware the joke has taken place or it should be a joke that the audience will appreciate.  The idea is to have fun, not to spoil the show.  


Pranks range from changing just one or two words or lines of text, to swapping props for more amusing items, to the extreme of actors swapping entire roles and costumes.  


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One popular trick is to let people do solos that are supposed to be ensemble moments. For example, there could be a moment in a musical where 6 dancers are supposed to come on stage and dance together. If 5 of the dancers conspired not to come on at all and the one dancers who was left out went on as usual, they would then have to dance a solo even though the choreography may not be particularly suited to a solo moment.  


A show report is a document compiled by the company manager and deputy stage manager after every single show, which gets sent to the producer to let them know how the show went. Traditionally, on muck up matinée an amnesty is granted and the pranks are not included in the show report, although not all company managers will adhere to this, so actors have to be very careful what they decide to do in muck up matinée.  Although most producers and directors know that muck up matinées happen, they are not encouraged and actors could get into a lot of trouble or even get the sack if they are found out and deemed to have done something intentionally detrimental to the show.  Although one particular contract may be coming to an end, most actors will hope to be reemployed by the same producer at some point and a poorly judged prank could burn bridges they can’t afford to burn.  

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