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January 24, 2019

Broadway Etiquette: Helpful Tips for First-Timers

You are not the only one. Most people get anxious when it’s their first time to do anything, too. Watching a Broadway show is no exception.

To help you ease your way through this new experience, we’ve listed some tips on Broadway etiquette for you:

  • Book in advance

    The most popular shows on Broadway sell out weeks, even months, in advance. So make sure you book your ticket ahead of time if you’re planning a trip to New York, more so if you want to see a particular show.
    You can now sign up at websites like Broadway Box or Playbill Club. These offer information and discounts on current and upcoming plays and musicals.

  • Arrive at the theater early

    You don’t want to miss out on anything, do you? To make sure you get seated comfortably and have ample time to find where the restroom is (for breaks), make sure you arrive early. Remember: Latecomers are usually not seated until the first scene break.

  • No dress code

    You can actually wear anything casual and comfortable as there is no dress code. Just take note that many theater-goers treat this as a special night out so they like to dress up. Take a sweater or a jacket in case it gets too chilly.

  • Let the usher seat you

    If this is your first time going to a theater then you will probably have a hard time looking for your reserved seat. Spare yourself the hassle and let the ushers show you the way. They will also hand you the playbill which serves as your program for the show. You might want to keep this for our Tip #7.

  • Plan your dinner
    Broadway shows typically start at around 7 or 8 in the evening and run for 90 minutes to two hours. Bear this in mind for when you plan your dinner. Will you be eating before or after the show?
    If you’re planning to eat before the show, try to make a reservation and let the restaurant know you’ve got theater tickets so they can serve your food quickly and make sure you can leave in time for the show.
    It goes without saying that you CANNOT eat during the show. You are in a theater, not the movies.
    If you want to wait until after the show to eat dinner, the Theatre District is the perfect place to grab a late meal. It is a hub for Broadway actors, writers, and producers, so don’t be surprised if you spot a Broadway star at the table next to you.
  • Turn off to tune in

    Switch off all electronic devices. Putting it on vibrate isn’t good enough. Make sure you tell your kids to do so as well (if you brought them along).
    A ringing phone will disrupt the show and you don’t want other people in the audience to throw angry glances at you.

  • DO NOT take photos

    Still on the topic of mobile phones, taking photos during the show is strictly prohibited. However, some theaters may allow taking photos in the lobby.

  • Do clap!

    You can clap loudly, but be sure to do so in the right places. For musicals, it’s fine to clap after songs. For dramas, though, reserve clapping for intermission breaks and the final curtain.

  • Wait till the end

    Don’t leave during the curtain call. The actors and production crew have worked so hard to give you a great show, so they might feel bad if you just walk out before it actually ends.

  • Stagedooring

    One of Broadway’s greatest traditions is to go to the stage door of the theater and meet the actors after the show to sign autographs. You can ask the usher where you can best station yourself. Yet you should be prepared to wait as the actors might need to deal with some stuff backstage before they can come out to greet theater-goers.

    As mentioned above, ushers will hand you a playbill before the show. This is your souvenir. Many actors will only sign items from the show they’re appearing at so this is where your playbill comes in handy.

Now you’re all set to go out and have a blast (and not embarrass yourself) on your first Broadway show!

Don’t forget to come back and comment below to share your experience with us.

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