Overheard at Angus: Volume VIII

There was an interesting article in the business section of the Times a week or so ago about a new airplane seat that debuted at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas trade show (and yes, that is a real convention, which further demonstrates that there is a convention for every subject under the sun).

The seat wasn’t really a seat. It was a stand-up seat that put the traveler in a sort-of-squatting position, which allows for more seats in smaller spaces.

Well, from what I overheard last week, it looks like I wasn’t the only theater guy who read that article:

Theater Guy #1:  Did you hear about that standing airplane seat?

Theater Guy #2:  No.

Theater Guy #1:  It’s like a crouching-tiger type of seat, with a lot less leg room, so you can fit more people in the plane.

Theater Guy #2:  That’s nothing new.

Theater Guy #1:  What?  You’ve seen them before?  What airline?

Theater Guy #2:  Not on an airline.  I’ve seen them in every theater on Broadway.

I laughed, of course, because I thought the same thing when I read the article.

And, then, I started thinking about our consumers and other live event producers, like movie theaters and sports franchises.

Movies have gotten more comfortable over the years, with seats that lean back, cup holders, etc.  Sports stadiums have been demolished and rebuilt, and places like Citi Field have become attractions even without the baseball.

We, on the other hand, with the need to become more financially solvent, have stuffed more seats in theaters of all different shapes and sizes, and we still don’t have enough bathrooms.

Not much can be done about most of this, because our theaters are too historical to demolish, and too expensive to rebuild (I don’t see The Palace moving to Flushing anytime soon).  The cost of keeping them the way they are has to be pretty dang steep.

But it made me think . . . how can we continue to ensure we can put butts in seats, if those butts are more comfortable in seats at other venues?

  • Liz says:

    I think the Sondheim (née Henry Miller’s Theatre) is a great example of what can be done in the house of a theatre today… the sightlines are fantastic from pretty much everywhere in the house, the seats are roomy and comfortable, and there are, in fact, enough bathrooms! Of course, they were rebuilding the theatre from the ground up, so they were able to start pretty much from scratch.
    Funny story… I was sitting outside the theatre one morning last September waiting for the box office to open so I could buy rush tickets for a friend and I to see Bye Bye Birdie, and a man walked by and asked what the people in line were waiting for. I explained about the cheaper rush tickets, and he asked where in the theatre the seats were located. I said that they were in the side boxes or the back of the mezz, but that I’d previously seen the show, and that I knew the theatre was so well designed there wasn’t really a bad seat in the house. He said, “Thank you, I designed it!”

  • I can barely fit into any theater seats without being in a great deal of pain. And there are some theaters such as City Center loge where I cannot even sit all the way down into the seat because of there is no room. So, it causes me and my partner to simply not go to most theaters — or, if we do, it has to be a show so spectacular, that it cannot be missed.
    That’s extremely distressing to me. I want to see everything!

  • At 6’5″, I appreciate the sentiment. One thing to keep in mind, if the tall guy in front is happy, all those short people behind him are as well.

  • Michael says:

    I’m tired of the cramped, uncomfortable seats, remnants from long ago: back at the beginning of the last century B’way theatre seats had alternating sizes, for men and women, roughly 20″ and 18″, respectively, I believe. Then, as now, squeezing more bodies in.

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