Pan – Broadway slang for a negative review from the critics. (antithesis of “rave”)
Papering the house – giving away free tickets to a performance so that a respectable size of audience will be in attendance.
Patter song – a type of song that is build upon a rapid delivery of the lyrics; often it is delivered in a spoken manner rather than sung.
Piracy – performing a show without previously securing performance rights, permission or paying proper royalty fees.
Pit orchestra – (see also Orchestra) the instrumental ensemble, which accompanies the singers onstage, is located in the pit area in front and below the main stage.
Plantation song – in contrast with the up-tempo, often humorous minstrel song, this song was more serious, emotional and more in the tradition of the popular parlor song of the 19th century.
Premiere – see Opening night.
Preview – one of the final rehearsals before opening night that is open to a full-paying audience; audiences are admitted free or at a reduced rate.
Prima Donna – the leading female role in an opera; also used as derogatory slang for a performer whose egotistical attitude and actions make them difficult to work with.
Producer – the person who is in charge of financial backing for a show; also oversees in all significant casting and production decisions related to personnel, theatre contracts and publicity.
Production number – an extended music and dance number that involves all or most of the cast.
Program – a printed brochure listing the scenes and settings, musical numbers, performing cast and production crew’s names and biographies; most often contains advertisements sold to aid in the financial backing of the production.
Prop – a portable object handled by the actors and used to support the action or activity of a scene, such as a cup, a hat, a tray or a knife.
Proscenium – the front wall of the stage that separates performance area from the audience.
Quartet – a musical song involving four performers.
Quick Change – an actor’s fast costume change most often necessitated by a short amount of time between the actor’s stage exit and next entrance.
Quintet – a musical song involving five performers.
Range – the span of musical notes from low to high that indicates a singers capabilities; also used to refer to the extent of an actor’s abilities to perform in a variety of acting styles or the breadth of types of characters they can effectively portray onstage.
Rave – a positive review from a critic (antithesis of a “pan”).
Recitative – a speaking style of singing that is built upon rhythmic articulation of a text rather than a smooth, lyrical melody.
Rehearsal pianist – a keyboard player who provides accompaniment for the singers and dancers during the early weeks of rehearsals before the orchestra arrives.
Reprise – the repetition of a song later in the same show.
Review – a public evaluation of a show by a media critic for a newspaper, radio, television or the Internet.
Revival – a new production of a show after the original production has closed.
Revue – a collection of songs and skits generally performed by a small ensemble cast centered around a central idea or theme, or the works of a singular composer; often humorous or satirical in nature.
Road company – a touring company who performs a musical “on the road” for audiences away from Broadway or major regional theaters.
Rock opera – a musical that borrows from rock musical styles and is often completely sung without any spoken dialogue.
Royalty – a fee paid in exchange for the permission to use or perform a stage work.
Run – the total length of scheduled performances of a stage work.
SATB chorus – a vocal ensemble that contains all four major vocal ranges: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass.
Scene – a subsection of an act, most often signified by a change in location, the passage of time in the plot, or the arrival of new characters onstage.
Scrim – A special type of curtain that, when lit from the front is opaque, but becomes ghostly transparent when lit from behind.
Season – the total stage offerings being performed by a theatre company within a calendar time frame.
Set – the collection of onstage backdrops, flats and furniture that places the action in a specific location or time in the plot.
Sheet music – the printed version of a song (melody, lyrics and complete piano accompaniment) from a show.
Showstopper – a song, dance or production number which is received so enthusiastically by the audience that the resulting applause stops the show from continuing any further; occasionally a portion of the number is “encored” by the performers before the play can proceed.
Sight gag – a visual bit that is included wholly for its humorous benefit.
Sleeper – a lesser-known show that exceeds the expectations of the critics or public to become a hit.
Soliloquy – a serious speech or song by a character that expresses their thoughts and emotions aloud for the audience.
Solo – a sung piece for a featured vocalist.
Song-and-dance team – a vaudeville duo who were proficient in performing humorous and popular songs of the time and tap dance routines.
Song form – the structure of a musical number, often ABA or AABA.
Song-plugger– a singer in the late 19th- and early 20th-century whose job was to promote or demonstrate songs for a publisher or music store.
Soprano – the highest range of voice for female singers.
SRO – Standing Room Only – when all available seats for a performance are sold and additional discounted tickets are available for standing room space at the back of the theater.
Star entrance – a deliberate attempt to create dramatic anticipation for the first entrance of a featured lead performer that is designed to trigger applause from the audience not related to any particular song or event other than the performer’s entrance.
Star vehicle – a show written specifically to highlight the abilities and talents of a single featured performer.
Subtext – a plot device where a secondary and deeper level of meaning exists beneath the primary text of the song.