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Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?

Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?

BdwayLife
#1Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 4:54pm

Hi all, 

I just returned home—caught a handful of shows, including: Cabaret, The Great Gatsby, Tommy, Back to the Future, and The Notebook.

I’ve been increasingly feeling this, in recent years, and wondered if others could relate.  I find the process of arriving to the theatre, straight through to sitting in my seat, stressful.

First, we are lined up.  At the 30 minute mark, we are yelled at from a megaphone at a foot distance from our ears, as the staff member walks by, telling us to proceed.  Another staff member shouts to open your bags while they inspect them, and then you pass through a metal detector—in some cases, they have to pass a hand held detector up your legs, torso, and across your arms.  You are then  shouted at, to show your tickets, soon followed by someone demanding to see them again, to escort you to your seat.  In the five shows I saw, only once did a staff member smile at me, use a normal talking voice, and said, “Enjoy the show.”

When I arrived to the last show of the trip, The Notebook, I walked in the lobby and looked at the board. I always like to check the “During this performance, the role(s) of: XX, will be played by XX.” I don’t know why. I know that there will be an insert in the Playbill, but, I like to look at the board.  When I did this, a staff member shouted at me, “Please continue that way, sir.”  I replied, “Oh, I’m just going to look at this.” He shouted, “Is everything okay?” I felt confusion.  Is everything okay???

I go to NYC once a year to catch some shows. My partner, who hasn’t been to Broadway in ten years, sat down beside me after we got seated at Tommy, one night, and said, “That was nuts. Is it always like this?” I sat there, and reflected on how things have changed.  The entire process felt not unlike being herded like cattle.   We then watched and listened to two staff members  fighting.  She said, “You can’t yell at a patron.”  He replied, “She yelled at me first.”  He ran off, and she yelled his name, to come back, but he continued dashing up the aisle, almost knocking another patron over.   I then looked at him, and said, “Yes, this all feels like an amusement park ride—get people on and off the ride, as quickly and efficiently as possible.” 

I have great respect for the work the staff do, and recognize that the added security measures are needed.  I don’t envy the job they have to do—getting 1200 people safely seated in a short period of time, is a mammoth task.

But, I do wonder if there are adjustments that could be made?  Opening the theatre one hour before?  There are occasions where I have waited across the street until ten minutes before the performance, and just walk right in, and often, the culture seems less frenetic. 

Perhaps, I’m alone in this, but thought I’d ask if others have felt stressed when arriving to the theatre.  

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EDSOSLO858
#2Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 4:56pm

I simply arrive a few minutes before curtain to avoid long lines. 


Oh look, a bibu!

nasty_khakis
#3Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 4:59pm

There's a reason I walk up to the theatre ~5 minutes before curtain. Just enough time to get in with no rush, use the restroom and get to my seat. God bless everyone that is already in a long line at half hour since we need those people to already be in and sorted so I can just roll up at curtain but I've never understood wanting to be in your seat at 7:32pm to sit for half an hour and have to stand up every few minutes to let others sit.

JSquared2
#4Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 5:03pm

But, I do wonder if there are adjustments that could be made? Opening the theatre one hour before? There are occasions where I have waited across the street until ten minutes before the performance, and just walk right in, and often, the culture seems less frenetic.

 

You appear to have solved your own problem.  Don't arrive an hour early -- everyone has an assigned seat -- it's not first come, first served. There is no reason to be there "early".   Opening the house earlier isn't an option as it triggers overtime pay for every single department.

It's also been my experience that (other than the tourist shows that drop off busloads in Times Square) if you arrive at the theatre 30 minutes before curtain, you can usually walk right in.  It's once you get to the 15-20 minute prior to curtain mark that everyone shows up at the same moment. I've also never had any house or security staff yell at me. 

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Wick3
#5Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 5:31pm

It also depends if the show is sold out. Shows that are sold out or nearly sold out (over 90% capacity) will be like this. Had you gone to see Lempicka, Heart of Rock & Roll, Beautiful Noise, etc. or a show that is not selling really well, your experience would have been more pleasant.

The shows I know of that have a long walk-in period are Harry Potter, Lion King, and Aladdin. 

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dramamama611
#6Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 5:52pm

I've never felt yelled at.  I've never seen a broadway employee with a megaphone.  I've never felt my ticket was "demanded".  I almost always have someone say enjoy the show.  

I also don't feel need to get to the theater early.  And even when I do, I usually strike up some conversations with others in line.  Actually had coffee last week AFTER a show with a lovely couple we met waiting to go in.  (Long story, but it was delightful.)  Not that it matters, but I just got an email from Illinoise telling me they WERE opening the house at an hour before curtain.  No idea why.  I'm assuming its for all their shows....but I am going to opening, so maybe that's different?

But no, I don't feel stressed getting into the theater. 

 


If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.

BdwayLife
#7Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 6:18pm

dramamama611 said: "I've never felt yelled at. I've never seen a broadwayemployee with a megaphone. I've never felt my ticket was "demanded". I almost always have someone say enjoy the show.

I also don't feel need to get to the theater early. And even when I do, I usually strike up some conversations with others in line. Actually had coffee last week AFTER a show with a lovely couple we met waiting to go in. (Long story, but it was delightful.) Not that it matters, but I just got an email from Illinoise telling me they WERE opening the house at an hour before curtain. No idea why. I'm assuming its for all their shows....but I am going to opening, so maybe that's different?

But no, I don't feel stressed getting into the theater.


Thanks Dramamama. I’m genuinely happy to hear that your experiences have been different than mine. Perhaps it was just an off week, for me.  I’m pretty resilient to elevated voices and crowds. 

Also, thanks to the others for your posts.  I was just curious to get a pulse of others’ experiences. 

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dramamama611
#8Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 7:22pm

Perhaps you are developing anxiety or even claustrophobia (I have claustrophobia - but it only rears its ugly head in the strangest of circumstances.)


If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.

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matty159
#9Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 7:35pm

I go to a show about once a week.  I arrive 10 minutes prior to curtain (knowing full well that that the show doesn’t go on until 5 minutes past the hour).  I am usually coming from work, so I have a bag.  Never issues even if they need to check my bag.  I will never understand people lining up an hour before curtain.  It disrupts no one and I’m not spending idle time sitting with my long legs.

BdwayLife
#10Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 7:47pm

matty159 said: "I go to a show about once a week. I arrive 10 minutes prior to curtain (knowing full well that that the show doesn’t go on until 5 minutes past the hour). I am usually coming from work, so I have a bag. Never issues even if they need to check my bag. I will never understand people lining up an hour before curtain. It disrupts no one and I’m not spending idle time sitting with my long legs."

I sympathize, Matty--I'm 6'2". 

 

I guess I'll need to adopt a similar strategy.

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JoeW4
#11Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 8:19pm

It's an interesting question -- I'd be curious to hear from people who have been attending Broadway shows for many decades, to hear theories about what might have caused a change, if there's been one. Because it seems to me that the hardest things about this process -- having to shepherd a large number of people into a confined space with assigned seats, in a short amount of time -- has theoretically stayed the exact same for however long they've been operating as Broadway venues.

Could it be the rising ticket prices increasing the feeling of high stakes and tension between the audience and the staff?

Updated On: 4/23/24 at 08:19 PM

BdwayLife
#12Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 8:31pm

JoeW4 said: "It's an interesting question -- I'd be curious to hear from people who have been attending Broadway shows for many decades, to hear theories about what might have caused a change, if there's been one. Because it seems to me that the hardest things about this process -- having to shepherd a large number of people into a confined space with assigned seats, in a short amount of time -- has theoretically stayed the exact same for however long they've been operating as Broadway venues.

Could it be the rising ticket prices increasing the feeling of high stakes and tension between the audience and the staff?
"

Great question, Joe.  I agree with you, the process pretty much remains the same, compared to decades ago, with the exception of metal detectors, and bag checks.  I guess the ticket scanners are relatively new(er). 

Point of interest:  I arrived to the Kit Kat Club at my assigned time, and the staff were really warm, kind, and welcoming. It was a very relaxing arrival. It was unlike my experience at The Notebook, Gatsby, Tommy, and The Notebook, all of which were a complete gong show. 

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
#13Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/23/24 at 10:12pm

Perhaps there is medication or other steps you should take to reduce your anxiety prior to entering situations like this.

I find the yelling security staff to be obnoxious and the lines to be irritating when there's a lack of clarity about Will Call vs ticket holders (especially when there are a ton of comps/TDF/rush tix to be picked up at will call), but I've never been anxious about it.

I've found Nederlander houses have a little more chaos and a little more yelling, but that's not a scientific observation.

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JBradshaw
#14Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 12:05am

Im usually waiting 15mins prior to the doors opening. 
I’m weird. …

But really gotta have time to step up the tripod to film the show, ya know what I’m saying? 
 

😜 j/k

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bwaylyric
#15Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 12:51am

Thank goodness we no longer have to show proof of COVID vaccine - ID and vax card or approved app. 

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Huss417
#16Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 9:00am

bwaylyric said: "Thank goodness we no longer have to show proof of COVID vaccine - ID and vax card or approved app."

I didnt mind having to show my vax card and it really didnt hold up the line.


"I hope your Fanny is bigger than my Peter." Mary Martin to Ezio Pinza opening night of Fanny.

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Wick3
#17Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 9:07am

JBradshaw said: "Im usually waiting 15mins prior to the doors opening.
I’m weird. …

But really gotta have time to step up the tripod to film the show, ya know what I’m saying?


😜 j/k
"

Lmao! I just watched a pie shop tutorial and am always amazed how that tripod is setup lol 😜.

The only times I have gone early and wait for the doors to open is for immersive shows like Sleep No More or Here Lies Love.

hearthemsing22
#18Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 9:27am

As someone who worked front of house, please also understand there are things happening inside the theater that need to be done- cleaning, if someone is out, stuffing playbills with the inserts announcing a cast change for that performance which can't be done earlier, especially if it's a last minute call out. Light checks, making sure the house is clean, ensuring everyone knows their jobs-for example, if there is a substitute usher who has not been in the theater before. Some things can't be done once earlier in the day and then that's it. Also think of this. With entering the theater- would you rather it be a free for all? Think of all of the staff working in the lobby, at the box office- that simply is unreasonable and could not happen 

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BalconyClub
#19Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 11:20am

I feel no stress entering the theatre, but can’t relax until my row is full.

I am totally stressing after curtain IF there is an empty seat in my row likely to be taken by a latecomer.

If a latecomer enters any row in front of me during a performance, I gently close my eyes for a soft 15 seconds and LISTEN to the show.

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SonofRobbieJ
#20Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 11:53am

I've had similar experiences as the OP at specific theaters. I absolutely dread going to Studio 54. It's like going through TSA every time and it is the absolute worst. Similar experience at Cursed Child. 

Other theaters have similar security set-ups but are much more pleasant to negotiate. It was smooth sailing at The Notebook for me and Carnegie Hall is an utter delight every single time. But if I can help going to Studio 54, I will avoid it like the plague. 

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ColorTheHours048
#21Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 12:11pm

I had the most stressful experience I’ve ever had with house staff seeing Six recently. Got to the theater later than I’d usually care for and used the restroom with the two others I was with. As we waited in line, the restroom attendant (already a strange occurrence) loudly announced the men’s room would be going unisex and shut a curtain around the urinals so that the women coming in to use the restroom wouldn’t have to see us and we could have privacy. They were also militant about telling people where to go and stand.

When we finally got to our usher, we let them know what a strange experience it all was and how uncomfortable we were with how they were handling the situation, and asked them to communicate that to the house manager. They just replied “This is how it is at every theater,” which is a wild thing to say since it is… absolutely not. All three of us were pretty perturbed by it.

My only thought to justify it is that the theaters housing more tourist-heavy shows face a lot more stress in the front of house process. More will call, more bar sales, more restroom users, more general confusion of where to go, etc. But I think sometimes, that stress gets the better of the house staff and it can lead to some pretty tense scenarios. I’ve seen house managers that are cool as a cucumber, and I’ve seen some house managers who look one “Excuse me, sir/ma’am” away from ending it all. Something to keep in mind is that most of these theaters are confined spaces that weren’t designed to handle the hustle and bustle it gets nowadays.

At any rate, we can all probably afford to make the entering the theater process a little more chill, patrons and house staff.

Updated On: 4/24/24 at 12:11 PM

Det95
#22Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 12:17pm

The theatre staff may not have megaphones, but when I saw Tommy the staff outside did have a headset microphone with a speaker. I do have to say they were very pleasant though. No shouting, just directing the line which has to be stopped to not block the hotel entrance

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Bette's Turban
#23Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 12:34pm

I like getting to certain theaters early because I love walking thru them .  I also do love people watching.  Security when you first enter at certain theaters has been nasty .  They yell and roll their eyes .  At Tommy I answered one if them back .  I said I paid too much money to put up with their mouth.  I know that didn’t help.  But I felt better .

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sinister teashop
#24Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 12:37pm

BdwayLife said: "First, we are lined up. At the 30 minute mark, we are yelled at from a megaphone at a foot distance from our ears,as the staff member walks by, telling us to proceed. Another staff member shouts to open your bags while they inspect them, and then you pass through a metal detector—in some cases, they have to pass a hand held detector up your legs, torso, and across your arms. You are then shouted at,to show your tickets, soon followed by someone demanding to see them again, to escort you to your seat. In the five shows I saw, only once did a staff member smile at me, use a normal talking voice, and said, “Enjoy the show.”

 

That is because you are being treated like a hick and a sucker by a carnival. And that doesn't start once you get into the Broadway theater. It is the entire district. Why do you think Minnie Mouse is there shaking you down for change? Because the current business model of the Times Square area is strictly for the tourist trade and the businesses have contempt for the tourists they are making money off of. Or more charitably, they don't think treating their clientele with a bit more respect would make them any more money. It is the same more or less in most tourist traps the world over.

Updated On: 4/24/24 at 12:37 PM

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Wick3
#25Feel stressed when arriving to the theatre?
Posted: 4/24/24 at 1:00pm

One thing that may help is having *larger* signage/directions on where the concession/bar or mezzanine or orchestra or where the restrooms are. These front of house staff probably get the same questions again and again throughout the walk-in process. 

Also, what's sometimes confusing is the EXIT sign. In some theaters, there is an EXIT door on one wall but we aren't allowed to use it at all and have to exit on the other end of the theater after the show (Jacobs for example.) 

 


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