So, you’re taking the plunge and seeing a Broadway show for the first time. Congratulations! You’re joining the ranks of over 12 million people who attend a show in New York City’s famed theater district each year. Taking a look at the receipt for your tickets, we’re sure you’ve noticed that Broadway costs a lot more than going to the movies, right? But the differences don’t end there. If you’re feeling a little daunted, don’t. We’re here to help.
Now we’re sure you’ve got a ton of questions. What shows are right for you? Does it have to be so expensive? When do you arrive at the theater? What do you wear? Should you eat before the show? What about theater etiquette? What happens when the show is over?
We’ve got some tricks and tips as well as do’s and don’ts to help you get the most out of your Broadway experience and keep you coming back for more.
What makes a show a Broadway show?
The quick answer to this question is size and location. Theaters considered Broadway houses have between 600 and 2,000 seats and span in locale from the Nederlander Theater on West 41st Street to The Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center. There are also Off-Broadway theaters located throughout the city that offer scaled-down world-class performances in smaller, more intimate venues.
Picking out a show
You can split Broadway or Off-Broadway shows into two categories, plays and musicals. Either can be either funny or dramatic. The main difference between the two is that musicals have characters who sing, while plays generally don’t. Once you’ve figured out what type of show you want to see, choose something that interests you or that you’ve heard good buzz about. Here are some of our favorites this fall.
Does it have to be so expensive?
We’re not going to lie. Broadway ain’t cheap. But if you know where to look there are bargains to be had. One popular venue to get deals is the TKTS booths located in Times Square and Lincoln Center where on the day of the performance, tickets are available at discounts that range from 20-50%.
There are also two-for-one offers twice a year as part of Broadway Week. And on Kids Night on Broadway, you can bring a child in for free! These aren’t the only discount opportunities. Do a little research online before you buy.
Should you eat before the show?
That depends on if you’re hungry. We can recommend a bunch of terrific restaurants located a few blocks away from your show. What we don’t recommend is trying to sneak food into the theater. It’s not allowed.
Is there a dress code?
While there’s no dress code for Broadway, we recommend that you wear something respectful and comfortable. You don’t have to break out the tiaras or black tie. Dress like you would if you were going to the office or a job interview. And be mindful that you’ll be seated for anywhere between one and three hours. Wear something that’s easy to sit in.
When do you arrive?
The theater is generally open for seating a half-hour prior to curtain time. We recommend getting to the theater no later than 15 minutes before the show. This will give you enough time to get settled, maybe get a drink, or use the restroom. Also, check out the theater. A lot of these buildings are historic landmarks that have been lovingly restored and are worth exploring.
Theater doesn’t have to be a stuffy experience. If something funny happens on stage, laugh. When you like something, applaud. Remember, it’s a live experience and your presence is part of the equation that makes this more than the movies or a night in front of the TV. But it’s important to bear in mind that there are a thousand other people in the theater who came to enjoy the same show you’re watching that night. Chatting while the show is going on is definitely a no-no. If you have candy or snacks, the noise from a crinkly bag is going to get in the way of your neighbor enjoying the show. And be sure to turn your phone–or anything else that blinks, rings, or buzzes– off!
When the curtain falls, the play may be over but the show isn’t. The actors and musicians have worked hard for you all night. Stay for the curtain call and show your appreciation with your applause and cheers. And if you really liked the show, you can wait by the stage door to tell the cast in person how much you enjoyed yourself. You may even get an autograph or selfie!