5 Tips for Attending a Broadway Show

You Paid a Lot for those Tickets. Get Your Money’s Worth!

A pair of Broadway theater marquees
The marquees at the Imperial Theater and Music Box Theater (Photo: Walter McBride / Getty Images).

You’ve picked a show to see and bought your tickets. Now it's time to get ready to go to a Broadway show! While Broadway is incredibly welcoming to newcomers and longtime fans alike, it's also worth your time to make sure you know how to get the best possible experience.

A few tips on attending a Broadway show can make sure you spend your evening enjoying what you paid to see.

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Get There on Time

Hamilton on Broadway
Walter McBride / Contributor / Getty Images

Shows can start at 8:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. or . . . you get the idea. Whenever your show starts, you want to be there. Here’s a checklist.

  • Always double check the time on your ticket. Then check it again.
  • Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to curtain to give yourself plenty of time, plus some wiggle room in case you get lost or want to look at the merchandise cart. The house typically opens 30 minutes before the stated curtain time. Also, don’t be worried if there’s a long line - once the doors open, the line moves fast.
  • Arrive 45 minutes early if you are picking up tickets at the “will call” window. Then, make sure you go to the correct door. (Example: The Lyceum has separate entrances for orchestra and balcony seating.) If you're unsure, check with an usher who can direct you.
  • Use the restroom early. Theater restrooms are notoriously small, making for long lines.
  • Ditto if you're interested in merchandise - the lines at intermission are often long, so if you're thinking of picking up a souvenir program or T-shirt, take care of it before the show.
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How to Get There

Broadway Street sign


Public Domain 

New Yorkers will tell you the subway is always the fastest way to get around Manhattan. Getting to Times Square:

  • From the East Side, get to Grand Central and take the S or the 7 to 42nd Street/Times Square. The N, R, Q, and W will also get you there.
  • From the West Side, take the 1, 2, 3. You can’t go wrong.
  • Remember, there’s a stop at 50th Street, too, which can save you several blocks.

By car:

  • You likely know this if you have a car, but parking ain’t cheap in New York City. The farther you park from Times Square, the less you typically pay.


  • If you're staying in a hotel near the Theater District, you can walk to your show. Most Broadway theaters are located between 42nd St. and 54th St., mostly between 7th Ave. and 9th Ave. in Midtown. If you take a walk to your theater, you can probably catch a glimpse of the gorgeous marquees along the streets for other theaters too!
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Once You’re There

Usher originated as an occupational surname for someone who worked as an usher or gatekeeper.
joshblake / Getty Images

Three steps to save you a lot of trouble.

  • Listen to the ushers. They will tell you where to go and can save you a climb up the wrong staircase.
  • Wait at the entryway to your section for the usher. If you seat yourself, you won’t get a Playbill. Additionally, many theaters have their own system of seat numbering. The usher is a pro and will know exactly where you need to be.
  • Get settled in. Coat and hat off. Candy unwrapped. Cell phone off. If it makes noise or motion, get it taken care of before the overture. Actors wish you knew these things, and the people around you will be equally grateful for your good theater etiquette.
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Enjoying the Show

The opening night curtain call of 'Anastasia'
The cast of 'Anastasia' takes a bow (Photo: Jenny Anderson / Getty Images).

Theater is an intimate art; you and other audience members are listening in on live conversations. Talking during the show is guaranteed to compromise the enjoyment of the evening of everyone around you.

Of course, again, you need cell phones off and put away, and earphones out and off (they blink).

If you're unfamiliar with the show, take a look inside your playbill while you're in your seat pre-show. There will be a list of actors and their bios, musical numbers if you're at a musical, and more info about the production that might help you follow along or just enjoy some fun facts!

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Heading Home

Times Square at night
Times Square at night (Photo: Zsolt Hlinka / Getty Images).

It takes a few minutes to get out of a crowded theater, so slow down.

  • Theater etiquette asks that you not leave when actors are making their curtain calls. It’s literally just a few minutes, and it's how audiences show appreciation for the performers and musicians.
  • It looks slow and crowded, but the lines move very quickly as side doors are almost always opened to allow more ways out than in.
  • Usually, some of the performers will come sign Playbills and take photos at the stage door. Just ask an usher, as some of these are around a corner or behind the theater. It may take a little while for some performers to come out, since many of them will have post-show guests.
  • Related to the above: if your favorite actor doesn't come out, it can be disappointing, but remember that they're often exhausted after a grueling show (or two-show day!), and sometimes don't have the energy to do a meet-and-greet - or possibly have had bad experiences with overzealous fans. If you really wanted to thank them for their performance, you can always send a quick note to the stage door address after you go home!