Where to sit in the theatre

Learn more about where each section is located and what kind of view you'll get.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

There's no bad seat at the theatre. No matter where you sit, you're able to experience the stellar performances and well-crafted designs your chosen show has to offer. Some seating sections are touted as "better" than others, but really, the "best" seat is a matter of each audience member's preference. Check out this guide to help you determine which seating area is best for you.

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What are orchestra seats?

Orchestra seats are on the ground floor of a theatre. If you're sitting in the first few rows, you'll be as close to the action as possible — close enough to see details on the actors' costumes and hear every little step. Orchestra seats extend from the very front to the very back of the theatre, so there's plenty of room to choose exactly how far back you want to sit. No matter which row you're in, you'll be nearly level with the stage, giving you a straight-on point of view.

Some shows designate certain orchestra seats as premium seats. They're usually in the center section of the orchestra, a few rows back from the front. These seats offer the most direct view of the show, close to the action without being too close — but they sell at top dollar. If your trip to the theatre is a special occasion, though, premium seats may be worth the splurge.

What are mezzanine seats?

The mezzanine is the second level of seats. If you're sitting here, you'll be looking down at the performance. Since the first row of the mezzanine is located toward the middle of the theatre, however, you'll still be able to see the performers' faces and movements just as well as you would from mid-orchestra. Like orchestra seats, the farther back you go, you'll be able to see fewer details, but you'll get a wider view of the stage. If you're in the center mezzanine, every inch of the stage is going to be within your view from higher up.

What are balcony seats?

The balcony is the third level of seating, located above the mezzanine and set back a little further. Not all Broadway theatres have one; some only have an orchestra and mezzanine, and some small theatres only have one level. If you sit in the balcony, you're guaranteed the widest view. Not only will you be able to see the whole stage, but most of the theatre itself, too.

You might not be able to make out subtle facial expressions or costume details, but you'll still get a great experience at the show — the cast rehearses with all levels of the theatre in mind, so you'll be able to hear clearly and see all the major action. Plus, the balcony seats are often the cheapest, so they're a great option if you're seeing theatre on a budget.

What are box seats?

Box seats are located on either side of a theatre, level with the mezzanine. Each box has only a few seats, so these seats are perfect for small groups looking for a space to themselves, or else any solo theatregoer or couple that doesn't want to sit near too many other people. Since you're off to one side, your view of that side of the stage may be obstructed a little by the proscenium arch or other fixtures, but otherwise, you get a similar elevated view that the mezzanine offers.

What are restricted view seats?

As the name suggests, restricted view seats let the occupant know that something will block their view of part of the stage, be it the proscenium arch, a pillar, a set piece, or an overhang. These seats are usually off to the very sides of the theatre or sometimes way up top. Restricted view seats are often discounted, which is a plus. Even if you're sitting in a restricted view seat, you'll be able to see most of the stage and enjoy the show as well as any other audience member.

What are onstage seats?

Onstage seats are — you guessed it — located right on the stage or performance area. They're rarely an option in traditional Broadway theatres, but smaller venues or venues with 360-degree seating may offer them for shows where the audience is encouraged to immerse themselves in the show. Actors may come very close to, or directly interact with, audience members sitting onstage, so these seats are not for the shy! You'll also have to be mindful that any moves or sound you make are likely to be perceived by both the actors and the audience, but you'll get an up-close-and-personal experience of the show as though you're a part of it.

What is general admission seating?

Some Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theatres don't assign you a specific seat when you buy a ticket. A general admission ticket allows you to choose your own seat when you arrive at the venue. These types of tickets are usually sold at small or unconventional venues where there's only one section of seating. You'll likely get a good view no matter where you sit — but if you want to secure a specific spot, be sure to arrive early!

What are standing room tickets?

Some Broadway shows offer last-minute standing room tickets on the day of a performance. If you have the stamina to stand for the entire length of a show, you can get these tickets at an extremely discounted price. Standing audiences are usually placed at the back of the orchestra. Since those in front of you will be seated, you'll likely have a direct, unobstructed view, though far back from the stage.

House vs. stage sides

Perhaps you've heard the terms "stage left" and "house left" before, but don't know the difference. House left and right refer to the audience's point of view; for example, if you walk into the theatre and are seated to your left, that's house left. Stage left and right refer to the actor's point of view. If an actor enters from their left, it's stage left for them, but it'll look like house right to the audience. When buying tickets, you're going to want to decide whether you want to sit house left or right (or center) — but we just call them "left" and "right."

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