Theatre Talk Thursday: Where is your favorite place to sit in a theatre?

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Whether you admit it or not, everyone has a preference when it comes to purchasing tickets. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed “front row snob” or someone who prefers to hang back and take it all in, instinctually when you are given options to choose your seat at a theatre a decision must be made. So this week the Stage Door Dish team answered the question: Where is your favorite place to sit in a theatre and why?

Sam, founder and editor-in-chief

I have never logged into a ticketing site with hopes of buying a seat front and center. Nor do I ever look for premium seats. Center aisle is the seat I am most happy in regardless of the theatre. I carry a lot of stuff with me when I hang out in the theatre district (a professional camera, a pen and notebook, a sweatshirt if it’s fall or winter, a gift for a performer depending on the show I’m seeing and miscellaneous girly products) and I don’t like feeling squished between two strangers since I attend most shows on my own. Whether I’m sitting orchestra center, left or right is dependent on where the stage door is. For example, my favorite seats at Newsies was Row D, Seat 101 because I was not so close that I was craning my neck (seeing the show from the first row isn’t as fun as it might sound, trust me) yet I was close enough that I didn’t miss a beat. And I pride myself on always being first out of the theatre for stage door without having to worry. (I’m sure this will come as a shock but I am a huge fan of Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Ben Fankhauser.) Similarly, when I purchased my tickets for the closing night of Peter and the Starcatcher I weighed the options of sitting first, second or third row and opted for third so I wasn’t looking up anyone’s nose. And, if the perfect view isn’t enough, seats on the left and right orchestra tend to be lower than center orchestra. Even though there’s not really a view difference between sitting center orchestra aisle or sitting on a side orchestra aisle seat.

Alan, managing editor

My favorite place to sit in the theatre is pretty close to front and center. Of course, every theatre will have a different layout. But front row is hard to beat. I saw Peter and the Starcatcher in the front row at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and while I had to crane my neck just a bit, I wouldn’t have traded it for any other seat. My best theatre seat so far though is definitely front row center for The Book of Mormon at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre (thanks to their lottery system). Seeing Rannells and Gad without any obstruction was certainly a treat, and the O’Neill has a relatively low stage compared to the Atkinson, so it was an even more comfortable view. But don’t sit front row at a show you’re scared of having to walk out on. Then it’s just embarrassing.

Monte, creative director

Honestly, the biggest thing that goes into picking where to sit is price for me because I live in a sort of semi-permanent state of “broke writer,” but that said, sometimes I can nick pretty good seats by hitting up discount tickets, so after price, definitely view is a thing – I really would rather not have anything in front of me, particularly since I’m not overtly tall, and so obstructions can really ruin things for me that they might not for taller people.  Once those two things are satisfied, I’m pretty good to go though.

Claire, writer

Call me cliche, but my favorite place in the theatre is absolutely the front row, or sometimes the second row if I feel like I want a little more space. Sitting in the very front definitely has its limits – if you’ve never seen the show before, you’re likely to miss out on the big picture of the choreography and staging. But there is nothing cooler than seeing a performance up close and personal, and watching the magic happen from only a few feet away in a front row seat. Most Broadway tickets I get are via rush and lottery, and lots of shows still reserve the first two rows of the theatre for discount ticket-holders. I’m so grateful for that, because otherwise I’d never get to sit so close up! I think it’s really fascinating to watch the actors from such a short distance – you can see what they’re going through during the show! They usually look like they’re having SO much fun, and it’s really interesting to see how they’re reacting during really emotionally heavy scenes. It’s also really cool to see their costumes so close up!

Wendi, video blogger

I’m about to sound way too technical, but it honestly depends on the show. When I go to NYC on vacation with my family, we try to get the best seats possible. We often travel to New York only to see Broadway shows, and being the planner that I am these tickets are often purchased upwards of 6 months in advance (here’s looking at you, The Book of Mormon), so splurging a little to have the best experience is necessary. However, front row center isn’t (always) ideal. I’ve sat front row and center for shows including RentEvita and Follies, and being that close to Bernadette Peters and Ricky Martin was spectacular. Front row center for Newsies, however, where over half of the production is done on a second level (forcing my dad and I to crane our necks), was very exciting, but I would’ve opted for front row mezzanine had I know. Front row mezzanine is always an excellent choice, especially in NYC where the theaters are reactively small. You have access to the entire stage, yet are close enough to still catch every detail and feel part of the action. Still want the orchestra? Try between the third and fifth rows. You won’t be craning, but you’ll still be close enough to enjoy your premium seat (I had this seat in Phantom and, aside from my irrational paranoia about a certain chandelier hitting me in the head, felt like I had the best seats in the house). Oh, and one day during a Spring Awakening revival (don’t kill my dreams, this will happen) I’ll be sitting onstage.

Josh, columnist

My favorite place to sit in a theatre is the front row of the first balcony, preferably in the middle. From there, I can see everything happening on the stage at a comfortable distance and can react like I would in a movie theater. The only time I would opt for the front row is if one of my favorite performers (Jessica Chastain) is in town and I am lucky enough to nab closer seats.

Renee, assistant

I really love to sit in the center aisle of the mezzanine. I am not very tall and often find myself craning to see over taller audience members when I am seated in the orchestra. I prefer mezzanine because it is often built as a slope and allows for an easier view of the entire stage without being too far away.

Now that you know where we like to sit, let us know where your favorite theatre seat is in the comments!

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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald
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3 Responses

  1. I like to be close to the stage. like the third row from the stage,. i love to also watch how they bring the sets on the stage . i love everything about it. its so interesting to see how they do everything

  2. I really love sitting in the front row. Yes, it is typically an obstructed view. Yes, you have to crane your neck up to see the show. Yes, the actors will sometimes accidentally spit on you. But you get to see every single expression the actors make. You can capture a quick glance characters make at one another. Heck, you can even catch the actor’s eye yourself. And there is no better/more embarrassing moment than being at the stage door and having (usually more than) one actor ask if you were the crying girl in the front row. It’s a cool connection; one that you can’t get from watching a movie. Sure, the front row of the balcony is probably my second favorite seat because you get the full view of the artistic vision and you’re still relatively close to the stage, but nothing beats being up close and personal with the action. You are almost literally immersed in the show.

  3. Three rows back from the stage, right in the centre is where I’ve had my most luck. As long as I’m not stuck behind an incredibly tall individual or sitting in front of a short one. Then I just feel mean.