by Colleen Cook
You've got your tickets, your date is set and that squirmy feeling sets in - you know, the "I'm-about-to-do-something-new-and-don't-want-to-feel-out-of-place" feeling. Leave the antacids in the medicine cabinet, we've got your back. After all, we all go to the theatre for the first time once! While we do our best to be a welcoming place for everyone, there are a few customs you might want to be aware of and a few tips for being a pro-audience member that can be helpful in making you feel comfortable enough to enjoy the show at your leisure.
Before we get into our tips & tricks, here are a few terms we'll be using that you may want to be familiar with:
Orchestra - The ground level of seating.
Balcony – The higher tier of seating.
House – The part of the theatre where audiences sit.
Intermission - Theatre's version of halftime. Most shows have a ten to 15-minute intermission.
Box Office - The part of our theatre where you purchase tickets. Ours is located at the front of our building.
Will Call - The part of the Box Office you visit to pick up your pre-purchased tickets. Our Will Call window is located inside the theatre lobby walkthrough between the new and historic lobbies.
Before You Get to the Theatre
- Plan to arrive about 20-30 minutes before a showtime. This allows adequate time to park your vehicle, enter the building, purchase concessions, and pickup or purchase tickets, and use the restroom. For shows that are sold out or close to selling out, you may want to plan another 10-15 minutes more.
- Dress in layers. In the summer when the air conditioning is on, the theatre may feel a little cool to you, and may feel too warm to you in the winter when the heat is running. Our building is very large and it's impossible to please everyone with a thermostat setting, so plan accordingly.
- Speaking of dress, we don't have a dress code! We regularly see a wide range of casual clothes (jeans and t-shirts) to formalwear (tuxedos and ballgowns). If you want to make a statement with your clothes, a night at the theatre is a great time to do that! If you prefer to blend in with the crowd, a good general rule is to wear what you might wear for a nice dinner out. For country and rock concerts and comedy shows, our audience tends to dress even more casually.
- Order your tickets in advance. For many of our shows, we have tickets available at the door, but that's not always the case. There are three ways to do this: visit our Box Office (open Tuesday through Friday from 12-5), call during those same hours (419) 522-2726, or purchase online anytime. (There's a small fee for online sales from our ticketing company, which we don't charge via phone or in person).
When You Get to the Theatre
- Entrance doors are at the front of the theatre on Park Avenue and at the rear from the parking lot on Third Street. We have a coat check inside the theatre if you're coming on a cold night.
- Choose the right line. If you've already purchased your tickets but don't have them in hand, you don't need to visit our box office at the front of the theatre, and can instead simply visit our Will Call window, where you'll be asked for the name the tickets were purchased under. Pro-tip: have your order confirmation number handy in case there's any issue with picking up your tickets.
- Visit the restroom. We have men's and women's restrooms located adjacent to our lobby area, and family restrooms located in the back corner of the lobby across from coat check. It's recommended that you visit before the show begins so you don't need to miss a moment of the performance! Pro-tip: Our family restrooms have a changing table available and the toilets manually flush.
- Look for the volunteers in red vests. Once you begin to enter the house for seating, our volunteer ushers and ticket takers will guide you to your seat. Each member of our Encore League volunteer corps wears a red vest so you can find them quickly.
Once You're Seated
- Your program is your guide to the show. Think of it like a roadmap to what you'll be experiencing. The program will probably include a letter from the director, a listing of songs or scenes, information about the performers, and acknowledgments to the individuals who made the show possible (staff, volunteers, donors, sponsors, creators, and local businesses). Don't miss your opportunity to read through it while the lights are up, because it will add to your experience.
- Silence your phone. There's nothing more distracting than notifications and ringtones interrupting a show. Don't be "that guy."
- No photos or videos. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and we'll let you know in our curtain speech before the show begins if this show is one of them. Even if people around you are taking photos, it's best to refrain. Besides - your photos won't be nearly as good as the real experience. Engage and enjoy (not through a screen).
During and After the Show
- Sit back and enjoy! This is what you've been waiting for - soak it all in! For most shows, it's best to sit back in your seat so everyone has a clear sight-line to the stage. (The exception is on occasion, some of our live concerts encourage the audience to stand. When in doubt, sit back and relax).
- When should I applaud? It's customary to applaud after a musical number and at the end of an act. At a concert, the audience will also applaud when the performer comes on stage. There are a few other applause cues for a symphony concert which you can read about here.
- Stay quiet through the performance. Aside from a ringing cell phone, talking during a performance is the most distracting offense of theatre etiquette. If you’re attending with a young child, it’s a good idea to arrive early and explain the story to your little one before the show starts. Challenge them to the quiet game: While the lights are off, we can’t make any sound! If you’re attending a show with music you know and love, that’s great! But, save the sing-a-long for the car ride or your next karaoke night. (Sometimes at a concert, the performer will encourage the audience to sing along, and that's the exception to this rule).
- While you're in the theatre, keep your feedback on the performance neutral or positive. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however our audience is probably filled with people who have worked hard to make this performance happen or have a loved one who is a part of the show. If, however, you have a concern or problem, find a staff member or volunteer and they will be thrilled to help you find a solution.
We're so glad to have you as a part of our audience, thank you for choosing us. We hope this visit is the first of many to come! And, if we didn't answer some of our questions, feel free to call our Box Office at (419) 522-2726 or message us on Facebook.
2 thoughts on “A First-Timer's Guide to Going to the Theatre”
Really good list. Some people could learn from this…
Thank you, Tammy! It’s amazing what some people don’t know in an environment they are unfamiliar with. We’re glad you enjoyed it!
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