April this year saw Mickey and the gang arrive at the show for several cameo appearances, with all advertising immediately skewing toward the Mouse and even changing the official name of the show, as recorded in the resort’s nomenclature guide, to “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show… with Mickey and Friends”.
So, longer name… shorter show? It’s probably not quite so drastic, but one of the actors who portrays Buffalo Bill himself has posted in his blog about the show managers emphasising a need to keep the show’s pace brisk and, ideally, under 90 minutes in length.
“Lest there be any doubt that the WWS is more factory than theatre, the latest directive from management is that the show must finish in 90 minutes.
“So I kept a ruthlessly rapid pace throughout both shows last night, bulldozing through moments where I normally allowed slight pause for theatrical drama, clipping the end of my fellow actor’s lines, ignoring interruptions where improvisation is called for, not waiting for audience applause to die down before delivering text, and cutting words from my own text where possible.”
And did it work? At 90 minutes, the first show of the night was bang on management’s wishes. The second, a cheeky 87 minutes! “Management was perfectly tickled,” he continues:
“Pace is important, to be sure. Too often actors overindulge in their own stretched out moments of drama, or confusion, and the show slows to a crawl. Or. Stop.
“But to ignore the audience and the occasional special moments of improvisation makes the show impersonal and can undermine the credibility of the characters, in my view. Allowing for special moments yet keeping a good pace is not easy.” … “Perhaps one day we’ll be able to relax again and respond to the audience in a natural way that allows each show to be individual and special, and builds the credibility of the characters and the moment, without being slave to an arbitrary time limit.”
To be clear, 90 minutes or thereabouts is how long Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show is scheduled and advertised to last, but it appears keeping strictly to that length has never been so encouraged or enforced before now.
Why impose a limit on the legends of the Wild West? Could be for any number of reasons — simply keeping the show moving along at an exciting pace, making sure the arena can be cleared out and “turned over” more quickly, or — dare it be suggested — keeping the younger audience members drawn in by the new Disney Character cameos from fidgeting in their seats…?
Pictures: Photos Magiques/Disney; Quotes via Buffalo Bill’s Blog.