Theatre etiquette is how you behave in the drama classroom or in a rehearsal in order to get along and be a good person in the theatrical world.
The basic rules everyone should follow attending Broadway musical shows:
- Arrive early, or at the least, on-time. If you arrive late, you may not be seated. Many theaters have a policy that keeps late-comers outside the theatre for 10-20 minutes, depending on the first scenes of the performance (The Lion King features a parade of animals and requires such a wait). Besides, it is a distraction for both the performers and the audience when late-comers are permitted in. Also, do not argue with ushers, as they are just doing their jobs.
- Be quiet! Do not speak, whisper, sing, or hum. People come to the theatre to see the performers, not you. Be careful not to crinkle your program or candy wrapper. If you must use a cough suppressant, wait until applause or a loud song. Laughing and applauding are acceptable at appropriate times. Save conversations for the intermission or after the show is over.
- Gentlemen, remove your hats. This is customary for most indoor events.
- No cameras/photography or recording devices! This is against copyright law, and besides, the flashes are distracting to the performers as well as the audience.
- Turn OFF your cell phone and/or pager! Surprisingly, this is still quite an issue. Really, it shouldn’t be. It’s rude; common sense is all it takes.
- Do not eat or drink inside the theatre! This is a distraction, once again, not to mention messy.
- Do not put your feet on the seats in front of you. This is simply rude, even if there’s no one sitting in front of you.
- Do not walk over or on the seats. This is, again, very rude.
- Stay seated. It is important that you stay seated until the end of the performance, including the curtain call. It is an extreme sign of disrespect to the performers for someone to exit before the show is over. If you are ill and must leave, do so quietly, and if at all possible, wait until an appropriate moment. Rest assured you will not be allowed back into the performance until an equally appropriate moment.
- Dress appropriately. Many like to dress up for a performance, especially in the evening. This is a special event, so why not dress up a little? If you must wear jeans, most theatres do not have a dress code.
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Children & Musicals
Have the decency to know whether or not to bring your young child. As much of a problem as this is in film theatres, it’s especially crucial in stage theatres, because a) the performance is live and the performers can be distracted, and b) tickets to stage shows are not cheap. Most stage musicals are not meant for children, however, not because of content. Children tend to be fidgety, have difficulty staying quiet, seated, and still for lengths of time. Babies are especially forbidden in the theatre, because crying is a major distraction. There are special shows that are just-for-children, such as performances of fairy-tale stories.
Children under the age of 4 or 5 would not be advised to see a majority of stage shows. I know of families who hold season tickets to see fairy-tale-based musicals. These fairy-tale shows take place during a matinée, and are geared toward younger children with shorter attention spans.
When considering taking a child to the theatre, always take into consideration these factors:
Length: Stage shows often run over 2 hours, with a 15 minute intermission. Can your child sit still this long, without crying or fussing, and therefore ruining the enjoyment for others?
Content, Themes, & Bore Factors: Though many shows such as Little Women and The Lion King are tame, these may still be unsuitable for youngsters. Though Little Women may contain no violence, swearing, or innuendo, the story would most likely bore a very young child who cannot understand the plot. The Lion King contains creative violence, the same as in the film, but it can be scarily portrayed on the stage. Crying children can take away from the enjoyment for other theatre patrons.
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If you child is under the age of 5, it would be advisable that you stick to letting them watch film musicals (which can be paused or stopped) or stage shows that are geared toward their ages, such as matinée shows specifically for younger children.