NYC Guide

Broadway: etiquette, dress code and more things you need to know

Although Broadway plays and musicals are among the most classic things to do in New York, the subject raises many questions among people. I already wrote a post about ways to buy cheap tickets – you can check here – and today I’m going to talk about general tips! What to wear, how to behave, and other important information. I’ve noticed that people always ask about this and I’ve decided to list some important topics.

Dress code – How should I dress for a Broadway play or musical? Theaters do not require a dress code and you will see people of all styles – people who dress up too much and others not so much. But I think it’s cool to use common sense. A Broadway show is a special occasion, you invested your money on a ticket, so cherish the moment. You do not need a suit and tie or high heels, but avoid flip flops and tank tops (for men).  Remember that the air conditioning in theaters is strong in the summer, so it’s good to have a light jacket. Oh, and you’re probably going to have dinner or a drink later, right?

Turn off your phone – Turn it off. And, no, putting your cell phone on vibrate isn’t good enough – the people next to you can hear that weird buzzing sound, too. Same for text messages. You may think nobody is gonna know, but in a darkened theater, the light from your cell phone screen is incredibly distracting to those around you.

Pictures are not allowed– Okay, Broadway plays are super special and you want to save that moment. Great. Take a picture before the beginning of the play. It is extremely prohibited to take photos or record videos during the performances. Yes, there are those who take the risk – but do you think it’s cool if someone sees you doing it? Better not.

The Lion King.

Don’t talk during the play –  keep conversations to the intermission and after the show. Nobody needs to hear your theories, lol. People paid a lot of money to listen to the cast, not you.

Are my seats good? The nice thing about Broadway theaters is that, compared to a lot of performing arts venues, they are pretty small. Broadway theaters range between 500 and 1800 seats. So for the most part, you’ll have a good view from anywhere you sit. Most theaters designate the first 20 rows of the center orchestra and the first 3-5 rows of the center front mezzanine as “premium seats” and these tickets will cost quite a bit more. If it’s a very special occasion it’s certainly worth considering these seats, but you’ll be able to see just fine from most locations! The major disadvantage to rear mezzanine or balcony seating is that you will not be able to see the facial expressions of the actors. If this isn’t an important factor to you, you can save quite a bit of money by sitting at the back of the theater, and you’ll get some of the best views of the set and the production numbers. (Source:

What time should I arrive at the theater? Generally, you don’t want to arrive any more than 30 minutes prior to the curtain or any less than 10 minutes prior. If you are picking up tickets at the box office or need to use the restroom before showtime, about 20-25 minutes prior to curtain is ok.

Should I bring my child to a Broadway show?  Certain shows (Aladdin, The Lion King) are tailor-made for kids. Many other shows are not, but of course, it is all up to the parents’ discretion. A good rule of thumb is that if your child can sit through a movie without talking or getting bored, they will likely make it through a Broadway show. However, no children under 4 should be brought to a Broadway theater, and most theaters will not allow this.

What about the food? Every theater has a bar that sells snacks and drinks. Be aware, because the prices are very expensive. You can take small snacks in your bag – like peanut or chocolate and even your water – but it is highly recommended to check the policy of each theater before. I had to throw food away because the theater would not allow it. But I have seen theaters that allow you to enter with at least water. Once you decide the play, check the website for more information. And beware of the noise of the packs: eat your snacks during intermission.

With  Michelle Williams, when I saw Black Bird. And the pics that I took of James Franco and Leighton Meester (Blair!) when I saw Of Mice and Men.

Pictures with the cast –  When the play ends, a lot of people try to take a picture or get an autograph with some actor or actress. This is common in performances with a famous cast. Last year, I went to see Black Bird just to see my muse Michelle Williams (I’m a fan since Dawson’s Creek). The theater was not crowded and, when the play ended, I ran to the exit to wait for her and try a photo. I got it. In May of 2014, I saw Of Mice and Men, with James Franco and Leighton Meester (Blair!) in the cast. It was crazy when I left the theater.  If you really want someone’s autograph or pic, try to leave as soon as the play ends. And have the patience to wait and also to deal with people pushing you, lol.

Hope you liked these tips!

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