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Broadway Shows 101: A Theatre-Going Guide for Beginners

by Mommy Frog on April 6, 2024
2 New York City

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"They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. They say there's always magic in the air." Jazz singer George Benson really said it best. Seeing a play or musical on Broadway is a transcendent experience. The electrifying feeling when the lights go down and the curtain comes up is truly second to none. That being said, it's definitely helpful to be armed with certain practical and logistical knowledge prior to entering the theater and taking your seat. Seeing a Broadway show for the first time should be nothing but an exciting experience, so I'm here to break down everything you need to know about going to the theater on the Great White Way. (Pssst ... Did you know that Undercover Tourist offers discount Broadway tickets? You can save up to 40% on popular shows!)

Broadway Shows - Hamilton

"Rodgers Theater - Hamilton" by ajay_suresh is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Broadway FAQs for Beginners

Which Broadway shows should I see?

That's the beauty of Broadway! There are shows for every age and preference! If you're traveling with little ones, starting out with a well-known, family-friendly offering such as "The Lion King," "Wicked" or "Aladdin" might be preferable. Famous actors are always performing on Broadway, so if you want to see some big names, check out shows such as "Gutenberg! The Musical!" with Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells, "Merrily We Roll Along" with Daniel Radcliffe and Jonathan Groff or "Mother Play" with Jessica Lange and Jim Parsons.

If you want to jam out to songs you already know, try a jukebox musical such as "Moulin Rouge! The Musical," "MJ" or "& Juliet." If you want to experience a classic, get tickets for Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" or Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." Leaving the kiddos at home? Here's your chance to see something you wouldn't see with them, such as "Cabaret," "The Book of Mormon" or "The Who's Tommy."

Where should I sit for a Broadway show?

There are typically two or three tiers in any Broadway theater: the Orchestra (the lowest level and the closest to the stage), the Mezzanine (the middle level) and sometimes the Balcony (the highest level and furthest from the stage). It's important to note that the Mezzanine can often hang over the back part of the Orchestra. Therefore, if you want to see the entirety of the stage or if you know a show has elements higher up that you want to be able to see (such as Elphaba flying in "Wicked" or the magic carpet ride in "Aladdin"), you may want to opt for a Mezzanine or Balcony seat if you don't want to spend money on a seat up close in the Orchestra.

Broadway Shows - Aladdin "New Amsterdam Theater - Aladdin" by ajay_suresh is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

How do I get good discounts on Broadway show tickets?

You've come to the right place! Undercover Tourist has amazing deals and savings on tickets to Broadway shows — save up to 40%!

When should I arrive at the theater for a Broadway show?

Unlike concerts, Broadway shows are incredibly punctual. They always start exactly on time. Front-of-house doors normally open 45 to 30 minutes prior to showtime. At the entrance to the theater, your ticket will be scanned and any bags you brought with you will be checked by security. Be prepared for long lines to form in front of the theater before it opens. Use any remaining time you have before curtain to grab any food or beverages you may want, check your coat if you need to, read through the Playbill and especially use the restroom as lines can get long quickly during intermission. If you aren't in your seat by the time the show starts, you may not be able to access your seat until intermission (theaters have varying late policies).

What should I wear to a Broadway show?

Believe it or not, Broadway has no set dress code — meaning you won't be turned away for dressing too casually. That being said, my rule of thumb for our family is usually anything we'd feel comfortable wearing out to dinner. That could mean jeans and a blouse or collared shirt or even a dress or slacks. I also recommend bringing a jacket as theaters can be quite cold. You can even get in on the fandom fun and cosplay as a character from the show! Most anything is fair game. (Just be sure to wear a shirt and shoes!)

Broadway Shows - The Lion King "Minskoff Theater, Broadway" by Rob Young is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

What can I bring to a Broadway show?

If you bring a bag at all, smaller bags are preferable. You want to be able to fit everything you have under your seat. Be prepared for rows to be very close together with little legroom. Don't expect to be able to put your belongings on the seat next to you or in the aisles. If you went shopping beforehand, plan time to drop off shopping bags at your hotel prior to arriving at the theater. If you want to buy show merchandise, it's best to purchase it on your way out of the theater as you won't want anything taking up extra space at your seat. Most importantly, turn your mobile device all the way off before the lights dim. Not only can phones go off in the middle of a show, but their signal can interfere with the wireless mics being used onstage.

Are concessions available at Broadway shows?

Yes, most Broadway shows have concession stands where they offer snacks and beverages (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic). Many shows even have specialty drinks themed to the production available for purchase! Unfortunately, it does vary from theater to theater what you're allowed to bring into the theater and what you're allowed to bring back to your seat. (Yes, even bottled water is not always a guarantee.) Be sure to check the policy of the specific theater you're going to before arriving. As a rule of thumb, assume outside food and beverages aren't allowed inside. It will make the security process quicker for you and everyone else in line.

Broadway Shows - Wicked "Wicked Broadway Row X" by The Western Sky is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Are Broadway shows accessible?

The Broadway community tries its best to make theater accessible. All Broadway theaters have wheelchair-accessible seats, but not all theaters have an elevator — meaning you may be limited to seats in the Orchestra. Occasionally, theaters offer open-captioned, ASL-interpreted and/or audio-described performances. Assisted listening and audio description devices are also usually available. Additionally, guide dogs and service animals are normally allowed in Broadway theaters. If you need any assistance, it's best to arrive at the theater early. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact the theater.

What will your first Broadway show be? If you have any other questions I didn't answer, feel free to drop them in the comments below!

Related: Guide to EPCOT's DISNEY ON BROADWAY Concert Series

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments


Nov 9, 2023 at 2:21 a.m.
Candi Rosen Says...

What a great help for first time and experienced show goers! Thank you. Will contact you when purchasing tickets again.

Nov 9, 2023 at 7:15 a.m.
FrogBlog Says...

Thanks for hopping by, Candi!!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog


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