This surge is believed to be accelerated by the pandemic, where the absence of theatre during Covid lockdowns has made audiences more appreciative.
Notably, audiences are rising to their feet midway through performances, not just at the end.
“The frequency of standing ovations has definitely increased,” says theatre critic Lyn Gardner.
Suba Das, a trustee at the Theatres Trust, agrees, suggesting that the type of post-lockdown shows might also be influencing this trend.
“The industry has embraced entertaining, uplifting work. That kind of performance encourages people to stand,” he tells the BBC.
Another admitted to a hint of “peer pressure,” while their friend added, “You get carried away with it, don’t you?”
Brian Hook, producer of The Choir of Man and other West End shows, observed an increase in standing ovations since the pandemic.
He believes audiences are “thrilled to be back in theatres” after enduring lockdowns and distancing measures.
Sunset Boulevard at the Savoy Theatre, featuring Nicole Scherzinger, also prompts audiences to stand during the show, as observed not only in London’s West End but also across theatres nationwide.
Gardner suggests the trend of more standing ovations might have originated from the US, where audiences tend to be more expressive in their support.
However, organizations like the Stage Management Association and Debrett’s etiquette adviser, Liz Wyse, caution that an excessive occurrence of standing ovations might diminish their value.
Despite this, Nancy Medina, artistic director at Bristol Old Vic, acknowledges witnessing a surge in standing ovations post-pandemic.
Medina emphasizes that while not everyone can physically stand, there are various ways to show appreciation for art, like clapping and whistling.
Saikat Ahamed, an actor in Arabian Nights, echoes the sentiment, urging against becoming snobbish about theatre etiquette but emphasizing the importance of audience engagement.