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Etiquette advice: Tips to make visit to theater a pleasant experience

If your seat is in the middle of a row, smile and be polite as you pass people.

Friday, April 26, 2013 - 12:01 am

Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at www.news-sentinel.com.

Q: Karen, which way do you face when crossing in front of someone to take your seat at the theater?

A: If you have the seat in the middle of the row, you are probably going to have to pass several people to get to your seat. And the best way to do that is to face the people you are passing. Smile and say, “Pardon me, please,” and thank them for getting up to let you pass.

Going to the theater for a concert, movie or play should be a pleasant experience for all involved. With that in mind, here are some guidelines to follow to insure you and those around you have a good time:

•Do be on time. Allow enough time to get your refreshments, make a restroom visit and read the program before the movie, play or concert begins.

•Keep candy papers and other food wrappers quiet during the performance.

•Turn off cellphones. And no texting during the performance. The light from the phone can be distracting for those around you and for the performers on stage.

•Avoid talking during the performance or movie and keep your voice low before the performance begins.

•If you are late for a concert or play, you may have to wait until intermission to be seated.

•During intermission, give yourself enough time to get back to your seat before the second half of the performance begins. If you are in the middle of the row, try to get back to your seat early to avoid having to cross over everyone else in the row.

•At a symphony or play, be sure to keep clapping until the performers are off the stage.

•During a symphony performance, you don't clap between movements. If in doubt about when to clap, wait and let the seasoned symphony-goers be your guide.

•Don't litter. Take all of your trash with you when you leave and dispose of it on your way out.

•Before taking children to the theater, make sure the performance or movie is age-appropriate and that they can sit through an entire performance. Consider leaving at intermission if they get restless. And do take the crying or fussy child out.

•Keep personal items on your lap or under your seat. Make sure your coat is not draped over the seat next to you.

•Be polite and move over a seat or two if you see that two or three people are trying to find seats together.

•No booing!

Enjoy the show!

Karen Hickman is a certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy LLC. Do you have a question for her? Email clarson@news- sentinel.com, and we’ll forward it to her.