Why is the specific theater important?

Why is the specific theater important?

Sutton Ross Profile Photo
Sutton Ross
#1Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/21/23 at 2:09pm

Whenever a new show is announced, one of the biggest questions I notice is people wanting to know which theater will it be in. I'm just curious of the importance of the specific theater for people? When I'm attending a show, I just glance at the ticket the day of the performance and head to the theater. I don't think anything of it. Is it the sightlines? The sound? The size of the seats? I would love to know.



#2Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/21/23 at 3:16pm

To me, sightlines are the key concern I have with a theater when I am thinking about going to a show. I am also concerned about whether a particular show is in the right size theater because that can affect the enjoyment of a show. Example would be IMO "The Drowsy Chaperone" should have been in a much smaller theater than the Marriott Marquis theater. Not sure this helps you, but I tried.

lapinitsa Profile Photo
#3Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/21/23 at 3:53pm

For me, as an audience member, it's comfort. I find most seats in  the Nederlander a misery, for example, but most seats in the Barrymore are just fine, For producers there are all sorts of other considerations especially relating to size of house and location.

#4Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/21/23 at 5:03pm

I always wonder when you hear producers talk about the most desired theaters how that's all justified. MANY MANY shows bomb at the Broadhurst/Music Box/Jacobs/Booth/Shubert despite being among the ones everyone clamors for. They say shows east of Broadway aren't desirable but many shows are hits there (usually with a name attached, admittedly.) I always think if people want to see a show for whatever reason they'll find the theatre if it's on 9th Ave, 3rd Ave, etc. If a show is going to flop I think it's just going to anywhere. I don't think moving, say, Honeymoon in Vegas to 45th St would have made it a hit.

I know factors like size/intamacy/sight-lines/backstage space are usually the most important factors when a producer gets to "pick" a house but you still hear producers talk like "we will flop in THIS 1,100 house but do big business in the 1,978 seat house!"

jagman1062 Profile Photo
#5Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/21/23 at 5:10pm

Personally, if I really want to see a show, it doesn't matter what theater the show is playing. However, I do prefer some theaters more than others. For plays, a more intimate theater is always a plus (and luckily, that's rarely a problem). I also prefer some theaters for comfort. Being a larger guy, some seats offer a bit more room, and some seats have more leg room between rows. I have never not seen a show because of where it was playing.

#6Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/21/23 at 5:29pm

If I’ve been to a theatre and liked my seat, I tend to buy that location again for future shows. Like I have a section I like to sit in at Circle in the Square, always will sit in the mezz at the Lyceum, really enjoy the orch at the Kerr, etc etc. If I haven’t been to that theatre before, then picking my seat becomes a little more challenging. Otherwise, I don’t care which show goes in what theatre. 

jkcohen626 Profile Photo
#7Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/21/23 at 8:42pm

I would echo just about everything others said. I think it matters to producers (maybe more than it should) and it won't stop me from seeing a show, but can affect my experience. 

On the producers side, there is definitely an advertising benefit. Getting the WInter Garden means you get a full-size billboard on Broadway and a big marquee on 7th Ave. That's solid advertising space. I think there's a similar principle for the 44th and 45th street theatres. Theatre goers going to The Shark is Broken are going to walk by Purlie and Akimbo (as well as Outsiders and Notebook when they get their marquees up) and I definitely think producers hope that you'll notice those shows and come back for them. 

One thing I'd also add is the number of levels and the ratio of seating between each level has a tangible impact on how much producers can make from a show. If you take the same exact show and could put it in the Schoenfeld or the James Earl Jones, you'll certainly make more money at the Schoenfeld. The orchestra is 150 seats bigger at the Schoenfeld, so more premium and other high-priced tickets, and there's no balcony or rear mezz, so less bottom-priced tickets. 

On the consumer side, some theatres have much less comfortable seats than others. I'm a pretty big guy. I groan when I know I'm going to have to squeeze into a St. James or Hayes seat even if it doesn't stop me from going. 

Updated On: 8/22/23 at 08:42 PM

Wick3 Profile Photo
#8Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/21/23 at 11:38pm

I agree with what others have said above. In terms of accessibility, very few theaters have an elevator/escalator (Gershwin, Marquis, Circle in the Square, James Earl Jones, New Amsterdam, Minskoff, Friedman, American Airlines are the ones I can think out of my head right now.) I know Lyceum & Longacre have elevators but they're tiny and tend to only go to certain floors.

Also, not all theaters have an accessible restroom onsite. I know Shubert theater is notorious for this (patrons are taken across the street.) Golden theater doesn't have one either and patrons are taken to the Schoenfeld lobby to use the accessible restroom there. Things may have changed but that's what I recall from going to these theaters before pandemic.

RippedMan Profile Photo
#9Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/22/23 at 12:09am

For me, I like seeing how they use the space and the overall vibe. Like, I loved seeing Kimberly Akimbo. Full house, small theater. Great energy. Not sure how I'd feel if it was in a different space. Or something like Circle in the Square, I'm always excited to see how they use the space and what changes were made. 

Producers value things differently. You want a big orchestra level and no balcony, ideally. That's why the Rogers is such a terrific theater. Good location, cool vibe, and great layout. 

Although, that said, you'd think the Marquis would be valuable. Good size orchestra section, modern stage, big mezz. Great location in a prime area. But yet it seems to be the one no one wants. Again, I think this just has to do with the vibe. Like, imagine how great Follies would have been at the Majestic. And how grand it all would have felt.

HogansHero Profile Photo
#10Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/22/23 at 12:40am

Re the Marquis, I feel like I said at least some of this not too long ago in a thread. 

1. It is hard to locate.

2. The present box office location is arguably better, but still attentuated from the theatre.

3. It feels like a road house. People expect something else from a Broadway theatre. 

4. But the #1 defect is that the space was designed by someone who doesn't know or understand theatres. For a production, the stage and back stage are terrible: very inadequate wings, long distances, and who builds a 3rd floor theatre with no freight elevator? This might not set off alarms for some producers, but believe it or not the theatre is a collaborative undertaking and walking a director and their designers through the space causes visible retching.

OMG U Guyz
#11Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/22/23 at 4:59am

It has a lot to do with what theater owners have relationships with producers and scale of the show. I think capacity is much more of an issue post shutdown. The smaller the house the easier it is to sell tickets/ sell out.  

GlindatheGood22  Profile Photo
#12Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/22/23 at 8:29am

Is there any theatre with a worse track record than the Marquis? A quick glance at the Wikipedia page seems to indicate they haven't had an open run recoup since The Drowsy Chaperone 2006, despite Evita and Beetlejuice both breaking the house record several times.


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Sutton Ross Profile Photo
Sutton Ross
#13Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/22/23 at 1:27pm

Thanks guys, all great points. And I agree with everything that everyone has said about the Marquis. If I had a dollar for everytime I heard someone say "Where the hell is this place?" when I'm around those parts? All the dollas. 


#14Why is the specific theater important?
Posted: 8/22/23 at 1:53pm

There are 41 Broadway theaters and they are all different. 

For me, I would be disappointed if a show I wanted to see book the Marquis because it's a dull, lifeless theater to me. If a small intimate play booked the St. James, that would be problematic too, just as a show transferring in with a massive set booked the John Golden; we know we will be missing something simply because of the theater. 

On tour, it really doesn't matter which touring house you see a show in; those theaters are all more or less the same thing. Broadway is different. There is a lot of showbiz and personal history in these theaters, and it matters where a show goes.