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Broadway Etiquette: Veteran Tips for Seeing a Show

Adam Young | July 5, 2017
Tips for attending Broadway shows.
Located in midtown Manhattan, Broadway is home to dozens of professional theaters that have lured millions of fans from around the globe. With a wide range of plays and musicals to choose from every day of the week, this bustling district is widely considered the center of the theater world. Whether you want to see a classic musical like Wicked, a Tony winner like Present Laughter or one of the most talked about show on Broadway,  Hamilton, Broadway is where your theatrical dreams can come true.

If it’s your first time attending a Broadway show—or even if you’re a frequent visitor to the Theater District—it helps to know some basic rules of etiquette. You can see many of the top Broadway shows at theaters across the country as part of their show tours. Broadway etiquette can be applied at any of your local venues as well. Follow these tips, and you’ll look like a veteran Broadway visitor.

Dress Appropriately
There’s really no clear-cut dress code when watching a Broadway show. Most people dress up more during opening nights, but you can leave the tuxedo or ball gown at home—and the same goes for your cut-off jeans and baseball cap. A good rule of thumb: If it’s appropriate for the office, it’s appropriate show-going attire. Also consider the show itself. A family-friendly show may be more casual, whereas a formal British drama might call for a smarter ensemble.

Don’t Go Hungry
Although some theaters allow food and drinks inside, visitors generally aren’t allowed to bring in outside food. Candies or lozenges are sometimes acceptable, but make sure these are unwrapped beforehand to avoid the loud crinkly sound it produces, which can distract your fellow theater-goers.

Turn Off Your Cell Phone
You’d think this would go without saying, but the “dings” and rings heard at just about every show tell a different story. It doesn’t matter if you’re waiting for an important text, phone call or an email—the theater is not the place to tinker with your phone. And don’t even think of putting your phone on vibrate, as it’s still distracting for the people beside you.

Don’t Get Up Until Intermission
It’s rude to get up in the middle of the show. Period. It’s extremely distracting for anyone sitting nearby, and it can be irritating to the performers as well. What’s worse is that you won’t be able to return to your seat unless the usher allows you to do so. You might miss crucial scenes of the show.

Don't Talk During the Show
No one wants to know what you think of the show, or your theories about what will happen next. Pay attention to the show, and if you have any comments, try to keep them to yourself until the intermission or when the show ends.

We hope these tips will help you enjoy a Broadway show like a pro.
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