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As I was getting ready to go last night, I was thinking since I go out to the theatre so often, and I've been in theatre productions for so long, maybe I should give some tips for theatre-going for those who might be new at it.
What to Wear
I'm not going to lie, I'm a little bit of a theatre snob and a firm believer in looking nice when you go to see a show. You don't have to dress in a formal gown and a tux or anything like that. But, whenever I go I try to do a little more than just jeans and a t-shirt. Especially if you're going to classy theatre in the city. It's a bit more of a formal occasion than simply going out to the movies. Depending on the show and location, you can dress a bit more casually. If I'm going to a community theatre show or something along those lines, I might dress down a bit more. But, I still try my best to look put together out of respect for the performers. They're doing their best for us, so we should do the same for them. Here is what my friends and I wore last night:
See? Nothing outrageously fancy. But still put together and done well. I would also suggest bringing a light sweater or jacket just in case. Even in the middle of summer theatres can get cold from time to time.
What to Bring
When going to the theatre, I try to pack light. The rows and seats can get narrow and you may not have room for a gigantic purse. Here is what I brought last night:
My purse was on the smaller end but still had plenty of room to keep my stuff. It was a vintage Nine West (well... I think it was vintage. It used to be my grandma's) and had a small mirror inside which was handy in case I had to touch up my makeup. Inside was:
- My pink glitter pen/stylus. You never know when you need a pen!
- My cell phone (turned off during the show! More on that later.).
- Lip balm because my lips are always chapped.
- Lip stick for touch-ups.
- Binoculars because I usually end up in the back. While usually visibility is still great, sometimes it's nice to see the actors faces up close.
- Wallet with my ID, credit cards, cash, etc. What if you want to buy souvenirs?
And don't forget your tickets! Mine were not pictured because one of my friends had purchased them and were holding them for us.
Let's be honest here - going to the theatre can get expensive. If you're on a tight budget like me, you need to learn how to work the system a bit. Even sitting in the back at a show, tickets can still cost you up to $40+.
First, I learn to prioritise which shows I want to see. Unless I purchased season tickets for Broadway in Chicago, there is no way I would be able to see every single musical which came my way. When I see the ads for what's going to be in town, I make a mental list of the ones I know I HAVE to see and be sure I have money set aside for when they come.
It also helps to know people in the business and how to go around extra Ticketmaster fees. A lot of shows will have tickets you can purchase at the box office directly and you can avoid those. If my friend hadn't picked ours up in person, our tickets would have cost $51 instead of $40. Also, look out for deals. I follow Broadway in Chicago on social media and they'll have contests, a monthly deal of $25 on the 25th for certain shows, and some shows will have a raffle before the performance starts for great seats. You also can google for discount tickets and see what you can find on other sites.
Just remember, you do sometimes get what you pay for. A few months ago I went to see Beauty and the Beast, and I got back row tickets for $18. Usually, even if you sit in the back, you can still see everything so I didn't mind. Then, when I arrived, I realised why they were so cheap. We were in the middle of a noisy Jr. High group and one of our seats was on a step which made it very uncomfortable!
Also, if you're hard-core about theatre or you see in a certain season you want to see almost every show, buying season tickets would be a smart choice.
Then of course, don't forget to support your local community and school theatres! Tickets tend to be less expensive, they tend to do shows which are tried and true crowd-pleasers, and you'll be supporting people in your own hometown. I'll be honest, when I lived in Missouri, the local Jr. High musical was almost always one of the best shows in town! Those kids were so talented!
Okay... here is where more of the snob in me comes out.
- PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. Last night there were one or two moments when the show was so quiet and lovely and perfect - then I heard someone's ring tone and it ruined the moment. Even if your phone is on silent, don't take it out because just like at the movie theatre, it's very distracting to everyone around you. Sometimes even the actors can see you on your phone! Can you imagine being on stage singing your heart out and out of the corner of your eye you see an audience member texting? Also, if you can, turn it completely off. Sometimes cell phones can mess with the sound system (especially if it's a lower-budget theatre) and that throws everyone off,
By all means, tag, Tweet, share, take selfies, etc. In fact, you might even get a like or share from the theatre, or if you're really lucky - one of the actors! Just not during the performance itself.
- DO NOT SING ALONG WITH THE SONGS. Yes, I know this might be your favourite show of all time ever. I get it. It's hard to not sing along. But you, along with everyone else, paid to see the professionals perform. If this is hard for you, go ahead and get the soundtrack before you arrive and jam out to your hearts content before and after the show. Or if you want to sing a couple lyrics during intermission that's fine too. Just not during the performance. This goes for lip-syncing too. You might think you're not distracting anyone because you're not making sound, but you are.
- DON'T TALK DURING THE SHOW. Again, it's like going to the movies. Does anyone want to be at a movie with someone who talks the whole time? Nope. Granted, sometimes the nature of the show might allow for some audience interaction. When I went to go see Motown the Musical, one of my favorite parts was how the audience reacted with their "mmmmmHHHHHMmmmmms" and "AMENS!" So, be sure to read the audience and the show to know how to react appropriately.
- ARRIVE EARLY. I like getting to the theatre a little early for a few reasons. If you're late, the ushers may not let you in right away. When I went to see Les Miserables, we were running late, and we had to watch the entire prologue on a screen because they wouldn't let us to our seats yet. Then, when we finally sat down we disturbed everyone else around us, and it took a little while to get adjusted and we weren't able to enjoy the beginning of the show as much as we would have liked. Or, at least that's how I felt. I can't speak for everyone else.
You also might miss something awesome if you get there late. A perfect example was when I went to see Once last night. The bar on stage was open for patrons to buy drinks and the performers were playing music as everyone was getting their drinks and sitting down. Then, they transitioned from there to the show, and it was one of the best beginnings of a show I've ever seen. If I had arrived late, or even "just on time" I would have missed it.
Also, if you get there early you have time to go to the bathroom and stop by the merchandise table. It's annoying when people get up in the middle of a performance to do those things. ;-)
- PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE DURING CURTAIN CALL. I know, I know, you want to beat the crowds and traffic. I get it! But curtain call is very important for theatre. This is your time to thank the actors for their performance, but also their opportunity to thank you for coming. Can you imagine being a performer and putting your whole heart out on the stage and when you go to take your bow you see people leaving? How heart breaking! Even beyond that, more and more shows are adding extras at the end where they do an encore song, or a mash-up of all of the numbers. You don't want to miss that do you?
So, those are my tips for going to the theatre. Anything I missed? Anything you'd like to add?
And in case you missed it, here are the videos I put up on YouTube this week: