We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is a Curtain Call?

Jessica Ellis
Updated: May 23, 2024

A curtain call is a series of bows and applause usually held at the end of a live performance. This allows the audience to give recognition to the performers for their work. Curtain calls can sometimes become encores, where extra material is performed at the request of the audience.

In theater, curtain calls are usually carefully choreographed as part of the rehearsal process. Generally for large shows, these calls are done in order of role size. Ensemble members, dancers and chorus actors will bow first, featured roles will follow, and the stars of the show will bow last. Usually the call is concluded by a company-wide bow, often including recognition to the orchestra or band. In traditional staging, after the company bows, the stage curtain will be lowered and raised again if applause continues. Frequently, in musical theater, the curtain call will feature an extra verse of a song from the show.

Some theater performances feature only a few performers, called ensemble casts. These plays often feature many roles of similar sizes, and the cast will take their curtain calls together, rather than individual bows. This form of curtain call is meant to honor the bond and shared credit of the entire group.

Although the general rule of bows suggests that shorter is better, amateur or benefit theater will often feature extended curtain calls on the final night of performance. These longer bows may include speeches and individual thank-yous. The director or producers of the event are often invited onstage to share in the final curtain call, and sometimes presented with gifts from the cast.

Musical performances generally feature bows by the performers and conductors. If an audience is particularly responsive, the musicians may choose to perform an encore number or set. Encore pieces are generally either a favorite work of the performer, a cover of another artist’s work, or an experimental and sometimes unfinished work. An encore is the artist’s gift to the audience, to thank them for their applause and support.

In sports, curtain calls may be taken after a particularly impressive play. Football players’ end zone dances after touchdowns are considered a form of curtain call. After a home run in baseball, a player may acknowledge the crowd by returning to the field and waving or raising his hat. If a game ends well, the entire team may come out for a bow.

Some films include a curtain call by inserting brief shots of the actors in character during the ending credits. Filmmakers Mel Brooks and Kevin Smith are both noted for including this technique. At the end of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, portraits of each actor were made by designer Alan Lee and shown during the credits.

The curtain call in live performance is an expression of mutual gratitude between the artist and the audience. Some performers claim to experience “curtain call highs,” where the excitement of the performance being well received gives them a boost of energy. Although some artists claim to live for applause, the bows are truly a chance for the performer to thank the audience for participating and supporting them. In return, the audience has an opportunity to express their enjoyment for the work the performers have put in.

WiseTour is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseTour. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By golf07 — On Jul 05, 2011

We have a local community childrens theater where all of the parts are played by kids. This theater has really grown since it first started, and when my son was younger he had parts in several of their performances.

All of the kids always look forward to the curtain call at the end of the show. It is fun to see all of their smiling faces and the sense of accomplishment they have from a job well done. They are so proud when they come out on stage and take a final bow!

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
WiseTour, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseTour, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.