5 Tips for Attending a Broadway Show

You Paid a Lot for those Tickets. Get Your Money’s Worth!

Gold Diggers of Broadway lobby card

  Wikimedia Commons

You’ve picked a show to see and bought your tickets. Now, what a pity it would be to miss the chandelier rising in The Phantom of the Opera because you arrived late. What a waste it would be if you’re fuming over brusque treatment from an usher during the opening of The Lion King.

A few tips on attending a Broadway show can make sure you spend your evening enjoying what you paid to see.

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Get There on Time

Hamilton on Broadway
Walter McBride / Contributor / Getty Images

Shows can start at 8:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. or . . . you get the idea. Whenever your show starts, you want to be there. Here’s a checklist.

  • Always double check the time on your ticket.
  • Plan to arrive 30 minutes early. (The house typically opens 30 minutes before the stated curtain time. Don’t be put off if there’s a long line. Once the doors open the line moves fast.)
  • Arrive 45 minutes early if you are picking up tickets at the “will call” window. Go to the correct door. (Example: The Lyceum has separate entrances for orchestra and balcony seating.)
  • Use the restroom early. Theater restrooms are notoriously small, making for long lines.
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How to Get There

Broadway Street sign


Public Domain 

New Yorkers will tell you the subway is always the fastest way to get around Manhattan. Getting to Times Square:

  • From the East Side, get to Grand Central and take the S or the 7 to 42nd Street/Times Square. The N, R, Q, and W will also get you there.
  • From the West Side, take the 1, 2, 3. You can’t go wrong.
  • Remember, there’s a stop at 50th Street, too, which can save you several blocks.

By car:

  • You likely know this if you have a car, but parking ain’t cheap in New York City. The farther you park from Times Square, the less you typically pay.
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Once You’re There

Usher originated as an occupational surname for someone who worked as an usher or gatekeeper.
joshblake / Getty Images

Three steps to save you a lot of trouble.

  • Listen to the ticket-taker. They will tell you where to go and can save you a climb up the wrong staircase.
  • Wait at the entryway to your section for the usher. If you seat yourself, you won’t get a Playbill. Additionally, many theaters have their own system of seat numbering. The usher is a pro and will know exactly where you need to be.
  • Get settled in. Coat off. Candy unwrapped. Cell phone off. Actors wish you knew these things.
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Enjoying the Show

'Noises Off' Broadway Opening Night
'Noises Off' Broadway Opening Night. Noam Galai/WireImage/Getty Images

Theater is an intimate art; you and other audience members are listening in on live conversations. Talking during the show is guaranteed to compromise the enjoyment of the evening of everyone around you.

Of course, again, you need cell phones off (not just silenced) and earphones out and off (they blink).

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Heading Home

Broadway theater district
Google images

It takes a few minutes to get out of a crowded theater, so slow down.

  • Theater etiquette asks that you not leave when actors are making their curtain calls. It’s literally just a few minutes.
  • It looks slow and crowded, but the lines move very quickly as side doors are almost always opened to allow more ways out than in.
  • Usually, some of the performers will come sign Playbills at the stage door. Just ask an usher, as some of these are around a corner or behind the theater.