A #Blkgrlswurld Guide to NYC Theatres

This month we’re kicking off a 3 part series that offers you a tour of Manhattan’s best venues for live music, theater, dance and more. When you’re going to commit $100 to a Broadway musical or ballet, you don’t want to leave your seating choice to chance. I’ve made it my business to document every NYC theatre I’ve attended towards planning out the best seating options for future shows.  Here are my top tips for choosing the best seat in the house (at any price range).

NASO @ Symphony Space, photo by C.Long, MFA

NASO @ Symphony Space, photo by C.Long, MFA

NYC Theatre Venue Tips:

1. Always sit within mid center stage or to the back right of the stage. Traditionally you’re more likely to see the unpolished backstage cast scrambling and be blocked by props when sitting to the far left side of a stage. (The only exception is an orchestra or chamber recital, in which sitting on the left allows you a good view of the principal violinist.)

2. Partial View seating is usually pretty good, but try not to be up too high in the nosebleeds (and bring binoculars just in case). Especially relevant for Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera, David Koch Hall and David Geffen Hall.

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Met Opera House Balcony Box, photo by C.Long, MFA

 

3. You’ll want some distance for certain productions. For example, sitting in the front row of a ballet doesn’t really provide you with a full view of the stage and larger patterns created among the dancers…you’re just going to hear alot of heavy breathing and stomping.

4. Ticket pricing is affordable if you order early, preferably the 1st week of a production season. Each company (NYCBallet, MetOpera, NY Philharmonic, etc. have different calendar seasons). I’ve been able to spend less than $25 on opera seats that later became $500 seats because I buy them several months in advance.

5. Balcony Boxes are fun and usually cheaper than row seating. Boxes at Lincoln Center usually have a private door and seat 2-4 people. I recommend the far back right boxes that give you most view of the stage.

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Balcony box hallway in the Met Opera House are hidden by large curtains from the rest of the theatre. Photo by C.Long, MFA

 

6. It helps to order by phone or in person. Online ticket orders have certainly improved, but sometimes they have limits like 2-4 seat minimums for your order and other requirements that you wont have to deal with in person at the box office. (Fun fact: I tried to buy online West End London tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and couldn’t find any good seats until I phoned and the box office started listing additional production dates that weren’t even public online!)

7. Bring a snack, you’ll thank me later. When I first began attending Met Opera shows a few years ago, I couldn’t understanding why everyone kept asking me what I’d like to preorder to eat or drink during intermission. It wasn’t until a nearly 4 hour production of La Bohème, where I crawled out of my balcony seats starving for dinner, went up to the bar asking for any food they had left, I didnt care if it was a saltine cracker. Only to hear that all the tea, cakes and sandwhiches were resevred and sold out. Damn.

8. Lateness can be an adventure…if you’re in the mood for it that is. There’s a known fact that come 8:10pm on the Upper West side you’re sure to catch men and women dressed to the nines covered in sweat as they fling their bodies out of cabs and subway platforms as Lincoln Center locks its doors for the start of a production. You’ll be lucky to get in an hour or so later when there’s an intermission. The first time I was 5 minutes late to the opera, I had no clue what to expect. Latecomers were ushered into a smaller theater that live streamed the 1st half of the performance and offered complementary champagne. As I sat in this secondary theater looking bewildered at the warm reception for lateness, other folks weren’t taking it so well. Don’t be late.

 

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Recital room at Carnegie Hall, C.Long, MFA

9. Discounts? Oh yes. Theater companies get all sorts of cultural funding support to help reduce costs and expand community outreach initiatives. It never hurts to ask if an event has a discount for college students or people under 30 years old. Your bank or credit card (like Amex or Citi) may offer special pre-sale seating as an event sponsor. We’ll expand on free high quality events in our next post.

It’s hard to deny that I’ve made it my hobby to attend amazing arts and music events here in NYC on a weekly basis. Like many people I enjoy the free public events offered at Lincoln Center or the free lectures at local universities like The New School or NYU. To be honest though, I still get a thrill out of rocking out a metal show and then 12 hours later dressing up in an evening gown to attend a production at the Metropolitan Theater.(Music is music, ok?)

Have I missed something? Want to share where youve had a great experience? Feel free to comment below.

xoxo #Blkgrlswurld Zine

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Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, photo by C.Long, MFA

 

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