Theater Etiquette

1. Turn Off Your Cell Phone

Three words. Turn. It. Off. Putting your cell phone on vibrate isn’t good enough – the people next to you can hear that weird buzzing sound and the display is really bright in a dark theater. Unless your career may be jeopardized by being unavailable for a couple of hours, allow yourself the luxury of going off the grid and just enjoy the show!

2. Text Messages/Flash Photography

You may think you’re being discreet, but in a darkened theater the light from your cell phone screen is incredibly distracting, not only to those around you, but to  the performers on stage as well.  The flash from a camera is even worse!

3. If You Have To Cough, Cover Your Mouth

We’re all here to share the live theater experience, not the disease of the month.  If you have a cough, be sure to bring some lozenges with you.

4. Unwrap Cough Drops and Candies in Advance

If you anticipate any coughing fits during the show, be sure to unwrap your lozenges before the performance starts and have them ready.  That unwrapping noise is extremely loud during a quiet play. Unwrapping it S-L-O-W-L-Y doesn’t help, it just makes it last longer.

5. Don’t Talk During the Show

A quick whisper or an audible reaction to something that happens on stage is fine, but this is not the time for an extended conversation.  Nobody needs to hear your theories on what the next plot twist will be, and please refrain from asking your companion to explain to you what was just said onstage.  By the time he or she explains it to you, you’ll have both missed something else important.

6. Don’t Sing Along

It’s tempting sometimes, but the performers have spent six to eight weeks rehearsing for this, and others in the audience might prefer to hear them.  Feel free to audition if you want to share your talent with others.  There are exceptions to this rule, such as when the performers prompt the audience to join in.

7. Come fragrance-free

You’re going to be very close to several people, and some may not share your love for your cologne of choice.  Please come to the theater clean and lightly scented.

8. Standing Ovations Are Not Required – Don’t Give In To Peer Pressure

Traditionally, standing ovations at the end of a show were signs of an audience so full of appreciation that they couldn’t help themselves.  Sometimes these reactions seem to be obligatory, and unfortunately when done out of mere habit they essentially become meaningless.  Ultimately, how you react is up to you, but let your true feelings guide you.

9. Clothing

Although opening night audiences usually dress up a bit, there is no official dress code.  Casual dress is appropriate.  No hats, please.