Theater etiquette

  • Turn off all distractions and enjoy the show.
    • Cell phones, tablets, pagers, alarms and other electronic equipment should be turned off or set to silent just before the performance begins.   Notice we said silent, not vibrate.  Vibrate still makes noise and everyone around you can hear it.
  • Texting and social posting during a performance is simply not allowed.
    • We certainly hope you’ll share your experience at Segerstrom Center via social media, just not during the performance. You may think you're being sneaky, but in a darkened theater, the light from your cell phone or tablet screen is incredibly distracting to those around you (as well as the performers in some cases). Please leave the texting for intermission and post-performance, then feel free to tweet, text or post all about your experience here!
  • Please eat before the show, not during.
    • Remember this is a live performance.  Unlike a movie, dialog and music can often be very soft and any noise in the audience (including polite chewing) can be heard. 
  • But it’s not my fault I’m late, traffic was horrible.
    • We understand that sometimes arriving late to a performance is out of your control.  Even if you tried your best to be on time and are only a few minutes late, you may need to remain in the lobby for a little while. 
    • For the safety of the performers and to preserve the artistic experience for those already seated, we may need to keep you in the lobby until there is an appropriate pause in the performance.  Sometime, we may need to move you to another area of the theater where you can be safely seated while the performance continues.  We trust you won’t try to go to the seats you purchased until intermission
  • Cough, Cough, Crinkle, Crinkle!
    • Every now and then we all get a cough or tickle in our throat.  It’s inevitable, but distracting during a performance.  Please make sure to unwrap any cough drops, lozenges or hard candies before the performance begins (and no, you aren’t hiding anything by unwrapping them slowly during the show).  Always remember what your mother told you, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • But it’s my favorite song!
    • We all have that special song or piece of music we love to sing or hum.  Please remember that others may love the same piece and want to hear the artist they paid money to see perform the number.  Please don’t sing or hum along with the performance (unless encouraged by the artist).
  • I can’t believe what she said!
    • We know it is tempting to explain the show to your friend or share a reaction to something happening on stage, but we ask you to limit the commentary to intermission and post-performance conversations.  Remember, if you are talking during the show, not only can others hear you, but you will also be missing the performance.
  • Respect the comfort of those around you.
    • Theater seats are close together and generally share arm rests.  Be a good seat neighbor and take care not to lean into your neighbor, take the entire armrest, hang your coat over your seat so that it is in someone else’s lap or intrudes on other patrons’ leg room. 
  • Do I clap now?

    • For many shows when to clap will be obvious, but for certain types of shows like symphonies and ballets, it can be confusing. When in doubt, look around. If no one is clapping, neither should you.
    • Classical music works will often have several movements per section.  Between each movement there is a brief pause. Traditionally, audiences only applaud when the work is finished, not after every movement.  If you want to know the number of movements, you can find this information in your program.  Alternately, you can wait and applaud only when the conductor turns around and smiles to the audience. 
    • At the ballet it is common to applaud when the conductor makes his entrance and sometimes after solos and pas de deux. (As well as during the traditional bows at the end of the performance.)
    • When in doubt, err on the side of not clapping.  Don’t worry you aren’t being rude, and it will be obvious if you should start clapping.

  • I’m not sure I know what to wear.
    • There is no official dress code at our venues. Most patrons dress in business or business-casual attire.  However, you will likely see people wearing anything from jeans and T-shirts to formalwear.  Also, go easy with the atomizer; many people are highly allergic to perfume and cologne.
  • The set is so pretty, I must have a picture!
    • Most of the time, you may take pictures in the lobbies of all theaters.  However, due to copyright laws, there is no picture taking or video recording allowed inside the theaters during a performance.  Don’t worry, if you forget this bit of etiquette our friendly usher staff will remind you, every time you take out the phone or camera.


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