Seating preference for musicals and plays

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    Read a few discussions about it on other forums. Very interested in what folks here thinks.

    Personally, ticket cost aside, for smaller theatres where lower balcony/dress circle whatever isn’t too far from the stage, first row or second closer to the middle would be ideal. Can have a good view of everything going on and still get a good look of the actors facial expressions. Or down in stalls a few rows from the front, maybe 5-10ish.



    In reality, these I mentioned are typically sold as producer seats or in packages. Which cost too much and I frankly try to avoid as much as I can. So without those, I personally rather get seats off to one side yet still close to the front, over those which are much further back but in the middle of a row. Seeing the individual actors more clearly trumps seeing the show as a whole anytime for me.

    But not being in the upper level you do sometimes miss some small things. It was until I had been in the dress circle for both MP and JB, that I noticed I missed a few lighting effect before.



    Sorry to go on about the old days but it made sense to me.
    The upper circle (love the new grand circle bit) were the cheap seats. Often called the Gods.
    Next you had the back stalls (sight lines sometimes a problem due to low circle cutting off top half of stage.
    Sitting here you missed Noddy blasting off in his rocket in Noddy Goes To The Moon or Evita telling her people not to cry for her.
    The best seats were the front stalls and the dress circle.
    I remember the prices for Fiddler On The Roof $1.00 $2. and $3.00 I recall people complaining that Mame tickets were expensive.. front stalls/dress circle were $4.00.
    Ok I know prices change but today I really think theatre seating should be reassessed.
    Paying the same price for the stalls as for the first few rows of the upper circle is insane.
    Back row of Upper circle at the Princess is horrid.
    There are posts in some theatres and views obstructed. Even charging for these seats is terrible.
    Best seats imo front row dress circle.
    Oh and I am disgusted by the manners of some patrons. Using the front row of the dress circle to rest your feet on!!



    I agree with you petersj. I always buy my tickets for the stalls – whilst I can afford these seats I will buy them because I want to actually see the production.

    The seats at the back of the stalls at Her Majesty’s are just awful – the top half of the stage is obstructed.



    The best theatre to see a musical in this country is without doubt Her Majesty’s Melbourne..with that in mind I would say front half of the Stalls there, and front of the Dress Circle. I prefer front Circle at the Princess (I think the stage is higher). Whenever I’m at the Princess for some reason I feel the auditorium seems to list slightly to one side – like a ship. It is never a pleasant experience for me. In regard to manners – I know what you mean petersj – I can’t believe people open newspapers at the theatre!

    Something really needs to be done about price scaling in our theatres. With all the discounts available I wonder if we are becoming like N.Y. There are the overpriced top ticket price – and they are that price because they don’t sell many and expect to sell at a discount of 50% or 35% off. Only the mugs pay full price. petersj – I can remember top ticket price for NO, NO, NANETTE (1972) was $5.20. It went up to $7.40 for THE WIZ (1976). By the time BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE came around in 1980 it was $16.90…when Cameron MacIntosh did CATS here (1984?) he announced that we were paying too little for theatre tickets (thanks Cameron) and put his show ticket at $25. A year later he charged $35 for LES MISERABLES…then $55 for PHANTOM and so forth.
    Realistically I think we should be paying around $85/$90. I think Producers know this and that is what the discounts come in at…but I digress.



    Petersj I just started a thread about bad manners in theatre inspired by your post. It never happened to me in shows but I did saw people put their feet up on the empty seats in front in movie theatres.



    Everyone has their preferences but as I get older I find closer to the front means I can distinguish facial expressions instead of a blur! Glad I wasn’t in the front row at QPac for JB though – you’d have to tilt your head back at a crazy angle to see anything but their feet!! My favourite theatre is the Lyric at the Star – impossible to get a bad seat there – in the stalls anyway!



    First and even second row for JB can be a bit uncomfortable. Have to look up a lot. And its VERY close to the boys I get self aware and nervous at times. Not my favourite personally.



    Of course there was one theatre in Melbourne where it did not matter where you sat you always had a brilliant view.
    That was the Tivoli.
    Can’t help myself but its true.



    Where was the Tivoli petersj? When was it demolished?

    Matt Edwards
    Matt Edwards

    I think this is a very interesting thread.

    I’d love to hear people’s opinion of the best places to sit in our current theatres. Particular from those that are regular attendees.



    I generally like to sit as close to the stage as possible – there’s no being too close for me.

    And I generally won’t sit in any balcony or mezzanine any more. I’d prefer to be back of stalls then in a balcony. I fell like there’s a kind of ‘disconnect’ when in the balcony, like I’m watching a film or something.



    I definitely prefer the stalls, even off-centre is fine as long providing I can see most of the on-stage action.

    My roundup of Melbourne’s major venues:
    – Comedy: anywhere in the stalls is excellent viewing, never had a bad seat here.
    – Regent: good view almost anywhere though the back third of the stalls and the entire balcony are a very long way from the stage.
    – Her Majesty’s: whoever designed this place did not understand the concept of sightlines. Front half of the stalls and first three rows of dress circle are OK, everything else is a compromise. Especially so for any seats under the dress circle, where you get a cropped view of the stage.
    – Princess: slightly better than the Maj but similar issues with the dress and grand circles. Most of the seats in the stalls are pretty good.
    – State Theatre: another barn like the Regent, prefer to sit as close to the stage as possible here.
    – Playhouse: more theatres like the Playhouse please. Excellent view from anywhere in the stalls.
    – MTC Southbank Theatre: another well-designed venue, all seats have a good view.



    I’m quite different from a lot of people in that I prefer the front row for the majority of shows. When I won the Wicked lottery back in 2009 and walked to that front row there was no going back! My sister is severely deaf and copes a lot better sitting up front where she can lip read and also hear the voices coming directly out of the performers’ mouths rather than just amplified through a speaker. Plus, I find the extra detail that you get to see in facial expressions, costumes, etc. well worth it. Sometimes feet can be cut off (at the Princess in particular – it was pretty bad for Jersey Boys and Moonshadow, okay for South Pacific and fantastic for Hairspray) but avoiding heads in front of you usually makes up for that. I will often buy tickets for the front row of the dress circle if it’s a big visual spectacle that I plan on seeing again (although I think that’s always been at the Regent, which is good) and have occasionally booked there due to costs (including most of the shows I saw on Broadway) but nothing beats the front row.



    Yeah, I love sitting in the front row. Always try to get the front row of the Hayes. At the Lyric Theatre (Star), I’ve sat in the front row for Chicago and that was fantastic as there was a gap between the stage and first row. But then we sat front row for Matilda and it was really looking up. I think maybe the Matilda stage goes further into the seating area. I do like sitting in the first few rows for the Capitol, although the stage is quite high and you can miss things like when people are lying on the floor. Also I remember front row not being too good for Love Never Dies because a lot of stuff happened on that walkway/bridge that was perched above.

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