Whether you are a theatre veteran or you are about to go to your first Broadway show, here are ten tips for what you should and shouldn't do when you go to the theatre.
1. Arrive Early
There is a reason why most theatres and ticket sellers recommend arriving 30 minutes early. Box office attendants, security, and ushers are really good at their jobs but lines are, unfortunately, unavoidable at most theatres. Arriving early gives you time to get in, get something to eat or drink, look at merchandise, go to the bathroom and get to your seat in time. Arriving late not only means that you will likely miss the opening act but late seating distracts audience members around you when you do get seated.
2. Dress Code
When you are going to the theatre try to dress nicely. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a gown or tux but try to look nice. For girls, a sundress (weather permitting), a blouse and jeans, or a blazer are great options for theatres. For guys, a collared shirt and khakis or a button down is an easy way to be comfortable but still look nice. A lot goes into a Broadway show and dressing up is a show of respect for all the people who have worked so hard to offer three hours of entertainment for you. You’ve also paid for the night so why not dress up, get some pictures and have a fun night out?
Turn your phone off and put it in your bag, don’t put it on silent, airplane mode or do not disturb. Even if you think you are sly, that nobody will see you checking your e-mail or quickly responding to a text, everyone can see it. The theatre is dark and your phone screen is not (yes, even if the brightness is all the way down, we see it) It's distracting to those around you, it's disrespectful to those on stage and it can even pose safety risks to performers. Just turn it off and put it away; let your friends know you are at the theatre and can't talk for a little while, they will understand and those around you will be very appreciative
4. Don't talk
During the performance try to keep your conversation to an absolute minimum. Once the show starts you really shouldn’t talk at all, if possible. Think of how annoying it is when people talk at the movie theatre. Now consider that most people are paying three times or more what you pay for a movie ticket. It is just as annoying to hear a conversation in a theatre as it is at the movies so please don’t do it.
5. Don't sing along
Even if you know every word and you’d never mess it up, don’t sing along to the music. It’s distracting to people around you and even if you are singing quietly people can still hear. Some shows will give you an opportunity to sing along at the end during bows, then you can belt it out!
6. Seat etiquette
Much of theatre etiquette is about being conscious of those around you and there are some things you can do when you are in your seat. Try to make sure your bag or coat isn’t blocking the aisle. If people need to get past you to get to their seats it is much easier if you don’t have to grab your purse, coat, wallet, food etc. from the floor. Try to keep items on your lap or under your seat. Try not to intrude on others personal space; everyone has one seat so don’t lean into someone else's seat or use both armrests. If you know that you are taller try your best not to block the view of people behind you. This can sometimes be unavoidable but you can help by leaning slightly to one side so that the people behind you can lean to the other.
Even though it may not seem like a big deal, everyone can hear you opening you m&ms. If you do need to open a candy bar, drink or chips during the show wait for the music to get louder or for a set change so that you aren’t making noise over a highly anticipated song or scene.
8. Theatre signs
Theatres will often give you five-minute warnings before the show starts and when intermission is coming to an end. Watch for these signals so that you can make it to your seat in time and so that you don’t have to disrupt other audience members to get to your seat when the show is already starting.
If you are bringing kids, do some research beforehand. There are a few things to consider, make sure the show is appropriate for the kids you are bringing and consider the child you are bringing. If the show doesn’t have an intermission will they be able to sit for ninety minutes with no break? Will the show run too long past their bedtime? Are they going to be entertained or will they be bored and tired during it? Bringing kids to the theatre is awesome and highly encouraged but if they are bored and talking through it or if it is too long and they get cranky and upset other theatregoers experience are going to be impacted by it. If you do have a child or baby who has a meltdown in the middle of the show, don’t try and make them stay in the theatre, take them to the lobby until they feel better or let them get some fresh air. Most ushers will be really understanding and let you back in if you explain the situation to them.
10. Enjoy the show!
At the end of the day, everyone is there to enjoy the magic of live theatre, so make sure you have fun! Buy some merchandise, take some pictures outside of the theatre and treat yourself to a night you won't soon forget.
You have something else you think theatergoers should know? Comment them below!