3 Ways Theaters Manage Latecomers So the Show Can Go On

Arriving late to the theater is considered a breach of etiquette, as it disrupts the performers’ concentration and disturbs audience members who made it a point to be there for the opening curtain. Those seated find it irksome when latecomers climb over them, step on their toes, and momentarily block their view to get to their seats after the show has started.

In response, theaters have developed strategies to handle late arrivals in a way that maintains the integrity of the performance while minimizing disruptions. Here are three ways theaters manage latecomers so the show can go on.

Remind Ticket Holders About Late Seating Policies

Communication is key in managing expectations for both the audience and the theater staff. Many theaters make it a point to remind ticket holders in advance through emails or text messages that latecomers will be seated at the discretion of the house manager.

Some theaters have a sterner policy, clearly stating that late ticket holders will be seated only at intermission, with no exceptions.

By setting these expectations upfront, theaters can mitigate frustration and ensure that the audience understands the importance of arriving on time. This reminder serves as a proactive step in preserving the theater experience for everyone in the auditorium.

Identify Opportune Moments for Seating

Theaters can work with directors and production teams to identify points in the show when late arrivals could slip in with minimal disturbance. They choose these moments based on transitions between scenes or during louder segments of the performance, where the movement in the auditorium is less likely to distract.

Ushers play a crucial role, quickly and quietly guiding latecomers to their seats or to an area where they can watch without infringing on others’ experience. This method ensures that the flow of the performance remains uninterrupted and that every ticket holder, regardless of their arrival time, gets an opportunity to enjoy the show.

Install LED Screens in the Lobby

Some theaters have taken to installing indoor LED display screens in lobby areas. These screens stream the live performance, allowing late arrivals to engage with the show without causing a stir inside the main auditorium.

For example, at the Civic Opera House in Chicago, the Lyric Opera streams the performance to screens in the lobby area. This innovative solution enhances the overall customer service experience and ensures that latecomers don’t miss out on more of the performance than necessary.

Theater management continues to develop thoughtful ways to manage latecomers. These strategies demonstrate a commitment to providing an exceptional theater experience for all attendees, affirming that despite the occasional hiccup, the show must—and will—go on.

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