Theatre tips for audiences: performers’ suggestions

We asked the stars of the London stage how to get the most from a trip to the theatre. They shared their best theatre tips.

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Who knows more about visiting the theatre than performers? Yes, they spend a lot of their time performing rather than watching a show. But when they’re not doing their thing on stage, they can often be found in an auditorium, watching a friend’s production, catching up on the latest hit or trying to uncover a hidden gem. So, to help you have the best London theatre trip possible, we asked this theatrical hivemind for their top theatre tips for audiences. Here’s what they told us:

Theatre tips for audiences: choosing a show

Alice Fearn: “Don’t be too set on what you want to see. Read up on things, yes, but maybe see what takes your fancy on the day. There is so much to experience. Shows or plays you might not have thought you would enjoy could transform your day. But, of course, don’t miss Wicked if you’re in town!”


Clare Perkins: “Find something that excites you. Don’t just go because everyone else is going or because it has four out of five stars. Go because you REALLY want to. Don’t forget that some of the smaller fringe venues have fabulous work taking place in intimate settings: Finborough Theatre, Park Theatre, The Albany (my local).”

Keith Strachan: “Go and see what you want to see. Theatre tickets can be expensive, so you can’t blame people for not wanting to take risks. But if you want to veer off the well-trodden path, read what professional critics say about a production. They see everything! Read all the reviews online to get a balanced view. If a play or musical gets an average of four stars from pros, then you’re unlikely to be disappointed.”

Theatre tips for audiences: before the show

Louis Greatorex: “Maybe read up a little about the play you’re going to see – without spoilers! That can really boost your enjoyment, if you know some context surrounding the play’s themes and authorship. You notice little details and nuances that would otherwise go over your head.”

Naomi Sheldon: “Go to a preview! Not only are they cheaper but you get that edge of excitement in the air when a production is coming together.”

We did it! First preview of Good Girl down. Popping our cherry @tomthumbtheatre 🍒

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Milly Thomas: “Check out the seating plans/audience reviews for sight lines. You can often grab a cheaper ticket and still have a pretty amazing view of high-end theatre.”

Lydia Larson: “The Marks & Spencer vine leaves are a fantastic pre-theatre snack.”

Theatre tips for audiences… with phones

Sarah Alles: “Keep it affordable and switch off your phone an hour beforehand.”


Kate Lamb: “Turn off your phone, get your interval drinks ordered, settle in and let us tell you a story.”

Beatriz Romilly: “Make sure you switch your phone off.”

Greg Hicks: “Leave your phone at home and arrive early in your seat… and wait with attention.”

Carlyss Peer: “Turn your phone off before the lights go down and get in the mood to have fun!”

Theatre tips for audiences: at the theatre

Will Merrick: “Don’t come in a cagoule. You’re going to forget to take it off before the start, and then it sounds like someone is unwrapping a present in the audience. Buy a real coat. A quiet one.”

What up gramers!

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Danny-Boy Hatchard: “Don’t buy noisy food.”

Rachel Parris: “Get there early for a drink at the bar. And take a bottle of water – no one wants to be the cougher!”

OR

Marc Pickering: “Don’t drink too much before, especially if it’s a long first act. And try to leave your worries at home.”

BUT DEFINITELY

Tom Fletcher: “Know where the loos are. You’re welcome.”

Theatre tips for audiences: have the right mindset

Cécile Leterme: “Keep your mind open. Don’t expect anything in particular, apart from the excitement of discovery​.”

Kim Maresca: “Keep an open mind and an open heart and have fun!”

Robert Cuccioli: “Leave your preconceptions at the door and enter the theatre as a child, with wonder.”

Stephen Leask: “Today’s understudies are the stars of tomorrow! Don’t be afraid or disappointed if you see an alternate, cover or swing performing instead of the ‘name’ or the usual lead. They are the backbone of the West End and are all incredibly talented. Killian Donnelly was a swing in Les Misérables and now he is playing Jean Valjean [the show’s lead]. You never know who will see at the beginning of their career.”

Natasha Barnes: “Just go and be present and enjoy what is in front of you. As an actor you develop this sixth sense in an auditorium where you can tell who is really ‘there’ and who might be elsewhere in their minds, thinking about checking their phone or looking around at who else may be watching the show. Audiences create something special just as much as performers do. It’s so important to me when I go to a show to actively participate by escaping my life and appreciating what is in front of me.”

Theatre tips for audiences: taking a friend

Carley Stenson: “Plan dinner or a drink after to discuss what you have just seen. Talk about the issues raised and the meaning behind it all. That’s what it’s there for. To make you think.”

Simon Lipkin: “Go with people that make you happy! It should be a fun experience. Sit back, relax and get lost in your imagination… Nowadays I think we need it.”

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OR

Stephanie Street: “Go on your own once in a while. It can be really nice not having to discuss a show with anyone or compare notes. You can just be there, watching and listening without having to talk or think about it too much.”

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY

Louisa Lytton: “Go to as many [shows] as you can – dinners and other evening experiences can wait. You can never see too much theatre.”

If you have your own theatre tip you’d like to share, email us or get in touch through Facebook or Twitter.