How to Practise Proper Etiquette for a Broadway Show

Watching a Broadway show can be a wonderful experience. However, even a slight slip-up in etiquette can get you reprimanded for rudeness, or even thrown out of the theater. Read on to learn how to use proper etiquette and appear sophisticated at any Broadway show.

Steps

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    Show up on time. Note that if you arrive late, you may be unable to get to your assigned seat for the first act. If an emergency prevents you from arriving on time, the ushers will try their hardest to seat you in an empty seat in the back. You should be able to get to your assigned seat by the second act.[1] Beware: some actors have been known to point out those who arrive late.
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    Turn off your cellphone. People will be escorted out of the theater if their cellphone goes off. It is considered distracting to the people around you and to the actors performing. There will most likely be a reminder at the beginning of the play to turn off all electronics, so make sure you adhere to it. This applies to text messaging too. Even when your phone is set to silent, the light from it can be distracting to others around you, and if you do receive a call or text, the transmissions from your phone can interfere with sound equipment in the theater. Shut off your phone until the intermission or end of the show.
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    Don't take pictures in the theater. While it is completely acceptable to take pictures outside of the play, as soon as you enter, turn your camera off. The plays are copyrighted. Distributing copyrighted images is considered copyright infringement, so keep the camera in your bag.
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    Applaud when appropriate, refrain from whistling or hollering. General theater etiquette states that whistling and cheering are in bad taste.
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    Don't snack in the theater. If refreshments are sold in the lobby, consume them before the show or during intermission. The sounds of eating, including the crinkling of wrappers, the chewing of food, or the smacking of chewing gum, are all distracting. If you are diabetic, bring quiet food such as raisins to address a potential insulin reaction (low blood sugar).
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    Sit quietly and don't disturb others. The other patrons came to watch the show, so please be respectful. Avoid wearing hats, or leaning too close to your friend or partner and blocking the view of the people behind you. Leaning forward or holding a child also prevents others from seeing the show.
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    The only time talking or whispering is acceptable is during intermission. Never ask the people around you what is being said. Also, never sing along with the actors during a performance! If you are hard of hearing, ask the usher for a special hearing device for the play. Remember, the actors are live. They can hear you too.
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    Take your child/children to age appropriate shows, or consider leaving them with a babysitter. Children under twelve often have difficulties sitting still for long periods of time, and will most likely not grasp the story line of the play anyway. If you must bring your children, keep them under control.
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    Don't leave until the show is over. The show isn't over until the actors have done curtain calls. If you leave earlier, it's considered extremely rude to them because they've worked so hard to entertain you.
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    Wear proper attire. This isn't necessary, but is preferred. Broadway used to demand formal attire. Although full blown evening gowns and a tuxedo are no longer required, you should still attempt to wear neat and presentable clothing.

Tips

  • Don't overdo perfumes and colognes. Some people are highly sensitive to fragrances. Less is more.
  • Enjoy yourself! It's supposed to be fun!
  • Note that casual clothing is perfectly acceptable for casual, modern shows like RENT or Avenue Q.
  • If you bring children to the show, consider taking the following precautions: take them to the bathroom before the show starts, make sure they are well-fed prior to the show, explain to them what will happen during the show, and get seats near the exit in the last row in case of difficulties.
  • Use the coat check to check your coats and wraps. The seats in some theaters are small with limited leg room.
  • Keeping your coat in your lap can be very uncomfortable, and hanging it on the back of your chair is considered unacceptable to the people sitting behind you.

Warnings

  • Improper etiquette may result in you being forced to leave.
  • Since 2003, it has been illegal [2] to use a cell phone during a performance in New York City, including Broadway theaters. This includes text messaging or reading texts.

Things You'll Need

  • Proper attire

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