Live Theater Etiquette: 8 Do’s and Don’ts When Watching a Musical
Sep 19, 2023   •   Meryl Medel
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Sep 19, 2023   •   Meryl Medel
ICYMI, American musical Hamilton has finally started its 10-week run in the Philippines, and Hamilfans have flocked to The Theatre at Solaire to be in the room where it happens. Opening night attendees have nothing but praise for the performance and production, but the same could not be said for some audience members. Unfortunately, some fans left the theater disgruntled after being seated to some people singing along to the songs.
talk about being unlucky: watched hamilton’s opening last night and i was sandwiched between two women who were singing along. bye.
— 🍓 (@prxljt) September 18, 2023
So maybe we all need a refresher on live theater etiquette. Here are some do’s and don’ts when watching a live musical performance, so you’re prepared when you watch a live theater production.
Unlike watching a movie, latecomers are usually not allowed to enter theaters when the performance has started. In some cases, latecomers can only enter when there’s a break in between the performance. So it’s best to arrive on time — early even. Find your seats 5 to 10 minutes before the show starts so you won’t have any issues later.
When attending a live theater performance, you should treat it as a special occasion, so dress to impress! While most theater productions now allow casual clothing, it’s still best to be polite and still go for the dressier option. You can go for smart casual or even a cocktail dress. Just don’t go in sportswear, flip-flops, or the like.
For the love of Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and Burr, please do NOT sing and do NOT recite lines with the cast members. You might love the performance so much that you’ve memorized the lines and lyrics of the whole production, but the person beside you didn’t pay for your performance. It’s disrespectful to both your fellow audience members and the cast and crew themselves. The only time you can sing along is when the cast actually asks you to do so.
Aside from singing and reciting lines, you should also refrain from talking and making any unnecessary noises as it can distract the cast and other audience members. Moreover, do not use your gadgets during a performance. If you can even turn them off, that would be best. Because the glow of the screen can be attention-catching in an otherwise dark room and distracting to the performers onstage. Worse, if your phone rings during a performance, it would cut through the audience’s silence and disrupt the performance.
This should go without saying, but you cannot take photos or videos during the performance. It’s distracting and downright disrespectful to the cast. And more importantly, it’s illegal. If you want to take a photo, you can do it before the show starts, or when the cast takes their bow at the end of the show.
Usually, eating and drinking in theaters were not allowed as the noise, smell, and mess can be distracting to both the cast and the audience. However, in recent years, some theaters have started selling snacks and drinks in the lobby. Still, it’s best to check with the ushers where you can eat, as most theaters may let you eat but only in the lobby and never in the auditorium. Plus, the noise of opening wrappers, chewing food, and the like can disrupt a show’s flow, so it’s best to leave the eating in the lobby. If you need lozenges or candy, unwrap them before the show so you don’t make any noise inside.
While you can do that in the cinema, it does interrupt the experience of your fellow movie-goers. What more when you’re watching a live performance? So if you need to use the restroom or step out for a call, wait until the intermission. The theater staff usually makes an announcement, and the intermission lasts anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes, so you have time to do your thing.
You can definitely show just how much you loved the production, especially because the cast and crew would appreciate it. But only at appropriate times. There’s usually a cue for this, but it’s best to stick at the end of each act, so you don’t miss any dialogues or songs. You can also give the production a standing ovation at the end of the show when your fellow audience members are standing.
Input your search keywords and press Enter.