Last weekend, I went to New York to visit family and meet up with Brian. While there, we attended a Broadway show. We’d both seen The Lion King before, but were just as excited to see it again, him for the second time and me for the third. It’s that good of a show, and it was fantastic as usual.
The experience was nearly ruined, however, by the extremely rude people sitting behind us. They talked, rather loudly, during the entire show. We sat in the mezzanine section, one row from the back, because those were the cheapest tickets available (seeing the show was a last minute splurge). Perhaps the people behind us thought they could act however they wanted because we were so far in the back? Perhaps they didn’t pay for their own tickets, so they didn’t care how much the tickets cost? Nobody else sitting around me was rude, so I couldn’t make a generalization about behavior of patrons in different sections of the theater. (Also, I’ve been near many rude people in the orchestra section as well.)
Whatever the case, I was extremely disheartened by the behavior of this group. I kept wondering if they’d never been to a show before, why nobody ever taught them how to act while watching live theater. Or, even better, why it wasn’t plain common sense to be quiet. A Broadway show isn’t a sporting event.
In case you ever find yourself going to see live theater, and are unsure of how to act, here are some guidelines!
1. No talking. Occasional – and I mean occasional, like once or twice in the show – whispering is okay, as long as the person next to you is the only person who can hear you. Just because you’re far away from the stage and the actors can’t hear you, doesn’t mean the people in the audience can’t.
2. Clapping to show your appreciation is perfectly acceptable. It is not necessary to whistle, scream, or otherwise make a fuss about a song or visual effect so everyone in your section can hear your reaction.
3. Silence your cell phones. Nobody wants the biggest number of a show ruined because your cell phone started ringing some inane tone.
4. Don’t turn on your phones to look at the time, return a text, or whatever. If your screen is illuminated, it’s bothering others and detracting from their enjoyment of the show.
5. No photography. Ever. It’s extremely rude to the performers and the audience around you. (I’m still shocked that a woman behind us thought it was appropriate to take a picture during the opening number. I’m even more flabbergasted that the usher didn’t immediately tell her to stop.)
6. If you’re going to eat or drink during a show, be quiet about it. Several years ago, there was a rule that you couldn’t bring food or drink into the theater. That rule must have changed since then, because you could do so at The Lion King. I don’t mind, as long as people are aware of others around them. Opening up a very loud wrapper in the middle of a play is rude. Make sure your snacks open before the show starts, and that everything is within reach. Not only is that being considerate of those around you, but it will keep your distractions to a minimum as well.
Mostly, however, just be considerate. People spend a lot of money to see live theater, especially on Broadway. The actors and musicians perform shows eight times per week, and most of them are still waiting for their big breaks. Have respect for them, and your fellow audience members. It’s not too much to ask.
(Note: As we were leaving the theater, I asked Brian if I could write a blog post on how to behave during live theater. His response? “DO IT.” He’s so predictable.)