As some of you may know, I love theater. I have a degree in musical theater and now that I live in New York I see about one show a month. (Maybe more, don’t judge.)
At almost every show I attend there is always a moment of “Uhh.. how do people think it’s ok to act that way during a live performance??” So, I thought I’d write out a few theater etiquette tips and best practices for your first Broadway show.
These tips also go for any other live performance you may attend!
Dress for the occasion
These days the theater is a pretty casual place. A suit or gown is not necessary, even though I kinda wish it was lol. For me, going to see live theater is a treat and so I like to get a little bit more dressed up, but jeans and a t-shirt is absolutely acceptable! I also understand that oftentimes you come straight from work or a day of touristy activities, but a quick refresh will do just fine. No PJs or sweats plz.
Take your hat off
First off, it’s rude and second, they can obstruct the view of patrons behind you.
Pleaseeee wait until intermission or after the show to talk or voice your opinions. If you have a question, wait. If you love the show and want to tell your friend, wait. If you hate the show, wait. Real human beings put hard hard work into the show and deserve silence while they perform!
Be on time
Feel free to take this one with you throughout all parts of your life. As a rule, I try to arrive at least 15 minutes early to go to the bathroom, find my seat, get snacks and drinks, whatever I need to do. When you walk in late you force your row to stand so that you can walk by, this is distracting and rude to patrons and the performers.
Don’t leave or get up during the show
Again, it is very distracting when a row of people stand to let someone pass by. Try to wait until intermission or the end of the show. And please don’t leave before curtain call is over. I get it, you wanna beat the crowds and get on the train, but the people around you are trying to show their appreciation for the performance so please let them.
Keep your shoes on
Yes, I have seen people take their shoes off in the theater!! Just don’t.
Keep crunchy foods to a minimum
Most theaters sell concessions before the show and during intermission. If you do purchase anything loud or crunchy, try to open the bag before the show and crunch quietly. But as a rule I’d say don’t eat in the theater? This isn’t the movies or a restaurant.
Respect your seat boundaries
Most theaters have seats that are very close together, sorta like airplanes. Make sure you are courteous to those around you by tucking your bag under your own seat and keeping your elbows in your own space, hopefully others will do the same.
Don’t use your phone
OMGGG, this one honestly gets me heated. Lin Manuel Miranda called out Madonna for being on her phone during Hamilton and said she was not welcome back!!! How embarrassing! Don’t be like Madonna. Even if you think the performers won’t notice, they patrons around you certainly will and this is my biggest pet peeve!
Don’t fall asleep
Okay a funny story about this. I was doing a show once where the male singer had to go into the audience and sing to someone in the front row. He chose a very sweet elderly woman that we all loved (this was on a world cruise so she had been on the ship for a few months and we all knew her.) But she was passed out asleep and he started singing to her for like 10 seconds before he realized she was asleep!! It was sort of hilarious and sweet. Ok but the point of this is to tell you not to fall asleep. So unless you are 93 years old, stay awake.
Don’t sing along
I get it, if you love the music it’s hard to sit still and not at least hum, but unless the cast asks for audience participation don’t sing along.
Show your appreciation
It doesn’t matter if you really loved the show or not, show your appreciation by clapping at the appropriate times. The artists most certainly deserve it!
Don’t bring large bags
There really isn’t enough room for them and some theaters may not even allow them.
No outside food
Most (if not all?) theaters will not allow you to bring outside food in anyways, but the theater isn’t the place to eat your leftover Chipotle. Either finish before or instead of tossing it, consider giving it to a homeless person.
No video or photography
Photo and videography is prohibited in the theater so just don’t do it. It’s super distracting to others and especially to the performers.
Did I forget any theater etiquette tips that you think I should add? Let me know below! And enjoy your next show!
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