For the love of theatre: tips for enjoying and getting the most out of live theatre.

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Deciding What to See

If you’re considering seeing a musical, your might be wondering whether or not you should listen to the cast recording first. For some people, listening to the cast recording first can be a great introduction to the show and give you an idea about what to expect. However, be forewarned that cast recordings often contain spoilers and you might want to avoid them if you want to be surprised. For example, I listened to the cast recording of Avenue Q before seeing the show live and ended up regretting it because the cast recording ruined about 98% of the jokes for me.

If you don’t want to listen to the cast recording first, how do you decide what musical to see? One thing you could do is listen to some clips of the music. This way, you can get an idea as to the style of music without the entire plot being spoiled for you.

If you don’t want to do that, or if you’re considering seeing a straight play (as in, something without music) you could explore a site like broadway.com and read a basic synopsis of the story. Most of the descriptions on broadway.com don’t contain any spoilers.

Buying Tickets

I personally try avoid sitting in the rear mezzanine. This is because I have a (mild) thing with heights and have had problems sitting there in the past. The section is often steep, which is good for improving your view, but I’ve also felt like I was going fall. Seats in this section are often the cheapest, but if you have issues with heights you might want to avoid this section. I should probably also put a disclaimer in here and say that no two theatres are exactly the same and that just because I have problems in the rear mezzanine doesn’t mean you will.

If you’re interested in saving money, you could look into various discount options available. Here are some discount options to consider:

  1. Rush/SRO: A number of shows offer same day discounts at the theatre. Some of these discounts only apply to students, while others are available to whomever. Keep in mind that there are usually big crowds at the more popular shows and there is no guarantee of tickets being available. Make sure to get there on time and have a backup plan.
  2. TKTS booths: TKTS sells unsold tickets at a discount (usually 50% off, but it varies). There are three of these booths around the city: Times Square, South Street Seaport, and downtown Brooklyn. All locations sell tickets to evening shows the same day; the first sells tickets to matinee performances the day of, while the latter two sell them a day in advance. The advantage of the latter two is that the lines are shorter, while the advantage of the Times Square location is that it sells matinee tickets the day of which is helpful to people who have a long commute and only plan on being in the city for the day. Some words of advice: tickets are continually being released to TKTS throughout the day, so the tickets available when the booth opens will not be all the tickets available for the day. In some cases, shows hold the most desirable tickets until closer to show time in hopes of selling them at full price. However, make sure to have several options in mind and remember that it may be harder to get tickets to more popular shows.
  3. Discount websites (BroadwayBox/playbill/seasonofsavings etc) For the folks who can’t be bothered running around searching for tickets the day of, this is the website for you. It lists discount codes for a lot of shows so that you can purchase tickets in advance at a discounted price. You may have more options in terms of seating, but keep in mind that if you’re from out of town and purchasing tickets through vendors like ticket master or telecharge, there is still going to be some hefty fees attached.
  4. TDF: TDF is a club that offers ticket discounts to members. They charge a fee to join, and they may or may not have discounts to shows you want to see.
  5. TDF vouchers: If Off-Off Broadway is your thing, this may be the deal for you. Purchase a voucher for $9 and use it to see participating theatre events. Vouchers are good for one year after purchase.
  6. See a preview performance. If you know that you’re interested in a new show, seeing it during previews (as in, before the official opening night) can be a big money saver.

Another thing I’d like to suggest is to try to spread out when you see shows, if you can. I once saw four shows in three days in New York, and felt overwhelmed and didn’t feel like I was able to process everything I saw.

Getting Ready for the Show

Dress appropriately. Perhaps that’s a loaded thing to say because different people have different ideas about what’s appropriate. Try to look nice. You don’t need to be dressed to the nines, but try to avoid clothes with holes, stains, etc. Wearing a nice pair of jeans is probably fine, but try to dress it up with a nice shirt. Also, take the time of year into consideration. You may find that you either get really hot or really cold at the theatre, so it may be a good idea to take a sweater or something during the winter months just in case.

At the Theatre.

Make sure to be on time to the show. The house usually opens about half an hour before the performance, and it might be a good idea to be there the minute the doors open. This allows you time to wait in the restroom line, check your coat (if you have one), look at the souvenirs for sale, look through the playbill, etc. Remember to obey the rules of the theatre, which usually involves turning your cell phone OFF (not on vibrate or silent), not taking pictures, and so forth. Obey the ushers, they’re generally telling you to do something for a reason. Don’t talk during the show.

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