5 Etiquette tips when seeing a Broadway Show


Spending an evening at one of Broadway’s famous theatre’s is a must do for any Australian visiting New York. Home to some of the greatest shows and stage performers, Broadway has shows that offer something for everyone.

From the critically acclaimed Hamilton and The Book of Mormon to the mecurial favourites Lion King and Chiccago a night at the theatre is something that any Australian traveller will remember for a lifetime.

First time visitors to New York can often be overwhelmed with choice of what to see, and it can be difficult to secure tickets. Once you do get tickets to your favouite show, we have put together some helpful tips that will make sure the entire Broadway experience is one to remember for all the right reasons.

1. Dress Appropriately

It can sometimes be a case of wearing your holiday best when you finally secure the tickets you’ve been hoping for. I am not sure how many people travel with their Sunday Best suit or dress, to New York from Australia, just in case they can get into the hottest show on Broadway.

As a general rule, the best advice is to wear something similar to Business Casual, that is jeans / slacks and a nice shirt for men (with appropriate footwear – no thongs), and a dress or jeans and a nice top for ladies. What you wear will ultimately be decided by the time of year you’re visiting New York and the temperature and weather conditions.

You may also like: Tips to how to dress for a New York Winter

2. Don’t be late

It goes without saying that you don’t want to be that person, couple or group that arrives 5 minutes late and can’t get into the show until interimission. It is also true that you don’t want to have to hustle to your seat by squeezing past the knees of multiple people as the lights go down and the show begins.

An important note to remember is, especially in the depth of winter, you’ll no doubt have multiple layers on, and it can be a very tight squeeze in some of the old theatres and trying to remove excess jackets in a rush to sit down can quickly turn into a nightmare.

Don’t be one of those people trying to squeeze past people to get to your seat as the curtain goes up.

VisitingNewYork.com.au recommends ensuring that you are in your seat at least 15 – 20 minutes before the show is due to being. This will allow you to easily find your seat, and enjoy some last minute concessions (they sell wine by the cup!) before the show starts.

3. Remain seated until the show has come to a complete stop

There can be an awkward moment towards the end of a show as to whether or not there will be a standing ovation. Generally speaking standing ovations are generally reserved for openening nights, or if the show has a big name star performing for a limited run, and they are outstanding.

It may also be the case of some very overzealous family and friends of new cast members who try to initiate a standing ovation on the first night of their performance. As with any form of praise if you feel the performance deserves one, by all means, show your appreciation, however don’t feel obligated.

4. Texting and Social Media can wait

You’ll no doubt want to share your excitement of your first Broadway show with friends and family back home via text message, social media and other messaging apps, just make sure you do it before the curtain call for the performance to begin.

Trust me, you don’t want to be that person who tries to sneakily check their phone during a show and illuminate yourself and everyone around you – take it from my personal experience, regular theatre goers can have a some of the worst deathstares known to man!

5. No food or drinks from outside

One my first Broadway show I was impressed to see that not only could you buy wine and other alcohol in the theatre but they also made it available via the concession vendors walking through the theatre before the show.

Definitely more than a standard drink of red wine but who cares – it tasted pretty ordinary though

Some Broadway theatres allow food from the concession stands in the lobby to be taken into the theatre itself, others do not. If you’re not sure it is usually well signed if you can’t if you’re still not sure ask one of the ushers they will be more than happy to help.

The biggest no-no is taking outside food inside. Just like at the movie theatres here in Australia Broadway theatres don’t take kindly to people brining in their own refreshments to enjoy during the show.

Also if you are going to buy some snacks and take them inside, be courteous to your fellow theatre-goers and either consume before the curtain any noise foods like crisps / chips, or just avoid them altogether.

Have you got any other tips when seeing a Broadway Show, use the comment section below or share with us on our Facebook page.

Jase is the founder and editor of VisitingNewYork.com.au. His passion for New York runs deep, after purchasing a New York travel guide while in high school, it's been a love affair ever since. Having visited over 20 times for work and pleasure he decided to start VisitingNewYork.com.au to help other Aussie's who are planning their own New York adventure to ensure they get the most out of their trip to the greatest city in the world.


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