A Night at the Theater

Last weekend, Audley and I attended the traveling production of Broadway’s “Billy Elliot” in Greenville for a fun day after Valentine’s date.  
I love nothing better than taking in a live show with Audley whether it be a musical or ballet or the symphony! It’s such a relaxing, entertaining and fabulous way to spend an evening.  Nothing is more exciting and surprising than live theater performances!

Billy Elliot is set during the great coal miners strike in Great Britain during the 1980’s and tells the story of a young boy who trades his boxing gloves for dance shoes.  Such a great story with history woven throughout and a theme of never give up on your dreams.  I loved the dance numbers and most of the music, although I do wish musicals didn’t incorporate so much vulgar language.  Even from the mouths of the children in the play…. 
That bothers me.
But, unfortunately, in our society, foul language is too often accepted and is found even in novels and television shows geared towards my teenagers.
But enough of this soapbox….  I have another one to get on!
Attending a live performance is much different than loading up and catching a movie, but it is quite obvious that the class and etiquette that used to be affiliated with live productions is no longer respected in the eyes of many.  I was quite disappointed and distracted by people talking during the show, entering the performance late, and especially in the attire of most of the theater patrons.
I guess I am an old soul.  I love good old-fashioned manners and doing things the proper way.

So here are a few Do’s & Don’ts for attending a live theater production:

DO dress for the occasion.  You don’t have to go formal, although it is accepted for a night performance, but think church clothes.  A pretty dress for the ladies, a button down and tie for the gentleman.  Jeans are not acceptable for either sex.  For a matinee a little more casual is accepted, and of course a school play is definitely a casual event, but still dress nice.

And ladies, leave the jingly jewelry behind.

Even when I was at my heaviest, I didn’t leave the house without make-up on, hair fixed and wearing clothing that was appropriate for wherever I was going.
Even now, I see that my teenagers are dressed for their own occasions from school & church clothing to not ever leaving the house in their pajamas!  We dress to travel, we dress to go out to eat, and while we are often overdressed if we go to Walmart (I seriously avoid that place), we are dressed in clothing without holes, hair fixed and clean.
 I find nothing more offensive than to be dining out with the family in a nice restaurant and find ourselves seated by people who are dressed like they rolled out of bed and went into public.
It’s just plain respect for yourself to dress for the occasion and definitely respect for those around you!
Dress up when you go to the theater!

DO take a bath before going to the theater.  Yes, people have to be told this.  Theater seating is close and you will be there for 2-3 hours.  Make sure you smell good and don’t wear too much fragrance.  You don’t want to make people sick or risk allergies to products you might wear.

DO be on time.  It is so rude to have to climb over people once the who has begun.  Not only is it rude to climb over others, it is so distracting for the actors and actresses on stage.  They see the movements and it can be very bothersome!
Live theater does not include 20 minutes of previews that you can slip in during.  When the lights dim, the show goes on.
If something has happened that has made you late, please have the courtesy to wait in the back of the theater until the first act has ended.  It may not be the most comfortable for you, but I can assure you that it will be appreciated by others attending the show!

DO be prepared.  If your tickets are at will-call, be there early to pick them up.  Have your tickets handy at all times so that when as usher asks to see them, you have them.  If you know you seats are in the center of the aisle, try to seat yourself early so that you aren’t having to step over others to reach them.

DO applaud the musicians as they are introduced before the curtain arises.  The audience’s enthusiasm truly sets the tone for the performance.  Also applaud the performers after a well-sung number or dance scene.  At the end of the show, also show your approval for the performance, but after the stars have taken their final bow, it’s time to go.  Multiple encores are exhausting for everyone, especially the performers who are already tired after a long show!

FYI:  It is tradition to cheer for musical performers using an Italian cheer “bravo” which means “well done!”  Shout “bravo” for a male performer and “brava” for a female.  If it is a group of performers, use the term “bravi” and “brave” if the group is all females.
I learned this in a theater class that I took in college, although I can only think of once I have used the term “bravo“.

DON’T talk during the performance.  Once again not only is it distracting for the audience, it is distracting for the performers.

DON’T bring food or drink into live theater.  Most evening performances don’t begin until 8:00 which does leave plenty of time for you to eat prior to arrival.  Besides, the noises of candy wrappers rattling or drinks being turned up are distracting to everyone.  It is so easy to miss a line during a live performance, don’t be the cause of several people missing what was said.

DON’T play on your phones, iPads, etc….  You can go an hour and a half without social media, checking email or texting someone.  Most all live performances have an intermission, so surly you can wait until then to see who has messaged you.

DON’T use flash photography during a live performance.  This really should be self explanatory, but you never know.  Besides, with most Broadway based musicals, photography is forbidden period as it is illegal.

DON’T go to sleep.  Seriously, how rude is that?  If you find a performance boring or not your “cup of tea” leave at intermission.  If you are tired, plan ahead to get a nap before attending the show.

If you have never attended a live performance, you are not too old to see one and become hooked!  From high school plays (which are a little less formal) to the symphony there are so many options.  

Do you like live productions?

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4 thoughts on “A Night at the Theater

  1. A nice.review of etiquette for an evening out. It's why I do not attend evening performances. I would be horribly out of place.

    Oh I loathe “the language,” though some say it is necessary to the telling of the story. Another reason to stay home.

  2. BRAVA!!!! Very well said, Jennifer! Manners are not to make others feel superior, but for the comfort of a group as a whole. Wonderful post.
    I'm with you about vulgarity! It hurts my soul! BRAVA!

  3. Great post Jennifer!!! I too am “perplexed” by the rude behavior of people at the theatre. It truly is a treat to be able to go and people should treat it as such.

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