What’s the one thing you would change about Broadway?

Yesterday’s “Robot Vomit” poll got me in a pollin’ mood.  So, I had Intern Emily and a few of her friends hit Times Square, armed with a clipboard and a question.

This one was more general.  Emily et al asked 100 theatergoers in Times Square, “If you could change one thing about the theater . . . what would it be?”

We told the pollee, that they could answer anything except “lower ticket prices.”  (I think it would have been a pretty boring set of responses without that restriction, don’t you?)

I’ve decided to post all of the answers below, because I just find them so fascinating (since many of the people we spoke to were on the TKTS line, we also removed “shorter line” from the responses received).

When looking at free form response polls like this, I always look at the similar answers that pop up more than once.  Those are the ones that tell you something.  So keep your eye open for that while you read.

Oh, and I’m giving it away a little, but I’ll tell you that my biggest surprise from this list?  How many people said there was “nothing” they would change.  Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?

Alright, enough of the warm-fuzzies . . . on to the data.  Here is what a bunch of theatergoers would change about Broadway if they could:

  • Nothing!
  • Make ordinary people stars (don’t use celebs).
  • More dancing shows
  • Nothing
  • More matinees for people here just for one week
  • Nothing
  • More discounts
  • Getting a wrist band/anything that will allow you not to stand in line the day of getting tix at TKTS (Note from Ken – this is kind of brilliant)
  • Nothing
  • What does Partial View really mean?
  • Dinner before the show including with your ticket price
  • Nothing
  • More original Stories
  • Nothing
  • Revival of Les Miz (bring it back!)
  • Easier way to get tickets
  • It’s perfect!
  • More leg room
  • More intimate/smaller theaters
  • Nothing, love it all!
  • Comfortable seating
  • Start selling TKTS tickets earlier in the day
  • Big theaters
  • Free cocktails
  • More matinees
  • More locations to get discount tickets
  • Make an app for discounts
  • Put Producers names to promote them (Note from Ken – I swear I had nothing to do with this one – but we did tell this person about this blog I wrote).
  • Coupons
  • Open the doors to the theater earlier
  • More floor seating
  • More discounts
  • Nothing!
  • More “Big” shows with dancing
  • Easier way to get discounts
  • Comfy seats
  • Deal = buy one ticket get one free
  • More coupons
  • No intermissions
  • Book TKTS tix online so you don’t have to wait outside
  • Nothing, it’s great!
  • Buy tickets on your phone
  • Open doors at TKTS earlier
  • More room in seats at the theater!
  • More legroom
  • Better parking
  • Larger ladies rooms at theaters
  • Less musicals (take out the corniness)
  • Nothing
  • Nada
  • Seats while waiting in line for handicapped
  • Nothing!
  • More ways to get tickets online
  • I wished people dressed up more to see the show (have dress code)
  • Cocktails!
  • Put more discounts online!
  • Nothing!
  • Better theater etiquette
  • More hearing aids at the theaters

What about you?  If you could change one thing . . . just one thing about Broadway . . . and you can’t say, “cheaper tickets,” what would you change???  Comment away!


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • Donald says:

    Unfortunately, butts have gotten bigger but seats have stayed the same. I’d opt for more comfortable seats, even if they were in a “premium section.”
    I really enjoy the advent of being able to bring a beverage to the seats in some theatres.
    In London, they have concessionaires selling ice cream and candy in the aisles at intermission. I always thought that was a nice touch and added something to the experience.
    I’ll get beat up about this but I dislike the practice of turning the curtain call into another musical number. I wish they’d put the time and attention into the numbers in the show, instead.

  • Chris says:

    I can’t say “cheaper tickets” but can I say “ticket value more closely linked to production cost”? I can’t believe a one-character play costs as much to produce and run as, say, Wicked or Phantom. Why do they both have the same ticket price?

  • Kami says:

    Have a real-estate developer in conjunction with the city of New York create a separate area of theaters for revivals called “Revival-town.” It would be away from Broadway. Broadway would be for new works.

  • Margie says:

    I’d cast me in Death of a Salesman! & add more straight plays.

  • Rick Stutzel says:

    I’d like to see the shows rotate the dark nights so that there is a decent selection of shows on Mondays and matinees, so that out-of-town tourists like me don’t have to miss a theater opportunity.

  • Sarah says:

    My number one pet peeve is service fees. Buying tickets online costs so much more than buying them at the box office- how is that helping anyone?

  • Ronni says:

    I would ban jukebox musicals!!

  • Marina says:

    Well I do miss people looking their best (or attempting to) when they come to the theatre and theatre etiquette should be required! No talking for sure – and the overture is the real start of the show – so hush up!

  • Kathleen says:

    Teach people how to behave during the performance amd to be considerate of others who are there as this is not in front of the television or at a movie theater:
    No talking to person along side
    Unwrap candies and other snacks ahead of time
    No plastic bags that make noise
    No food such as subs/hoggies/heores or other food which has an odor others close by can smell
    No ringing cell phones (1812 Overture during death scene Man of La Mancha)
    No talking on cell phones
    No bright lights from cell phones
    No texting (bright light distract persons nearby from what is going on on stage
    No noisy drinks, such as clinking ice

  • Bryan David says:

    Dear Mr. Davenport, et al:
    From you multi answers to your question,
    “What would I change about Broadway?”
    I am VERY BIAS
    More original Stories such as:
    “Whitechapel” ©
    The Life & Times
    ‘Jack The Ripper’
    A Musical Love Story! ™
    © Copyright 1989/2011 Bryan David/Brandon Kress
    All Rights Reserved
    “Wilde About Me!” ©
    The Life, Loves & Lawsuits
    Oscar Wilde! ™
    © Copyright 2010 Bryan David/Brandon Kress
    All Rights Reserved
    Just one man’s bias opinion, just saying…
    Bryan David
    Playwright & Lyricist

  • Lonnie Cooper says:

    I’d change the pricing model. Why does a small, intimate 2 hander cost the same as a full musical with 40 actors and a 30 piece orchestra?

  • Randi says:

    Ahh I had to get to the end of the list, but finally I saw that someone answered ‘Better Theatre Etiquette’. This is, in my experience, the biggest problem in theatre-going of the past decade. It makes diehard theatre lovers reluctant to go, and that is trouble. Ushers need to be on alert during the show and ask people not to sing along or talk the whole time to their neighbor, or eat dinner (seen it), or worst of all play on their phones and/or answer calls. Etc. etc. Playbill needs to put an insert in every single bill with Rule of Theatre Etiquette, and patrons must be reminded to read it before the show starts (maybe when they get their tickets scanned). It has become an awful problem.

  • Matt says:

    I have to say I hate the new souvenir cups that they’re using on Broadway. Most people throw them away creating a huge amount of plastic waste. Filling a hard plastic cup with ice and putting a top on it and giving it to patrons to flip over every time they take a drink is pretty annoying – we might as well give them maracas to shake during the quiet parts of the show. That also goes for all the chips and cookies in noisy plastic bags and wrappers. Theater and movies are two different mediums and attending them should have different rules of etiquette. Broadway shows are already over amplified as it is, I don’t want them turning up the sound system to drown out the sound of America munching.
    And for those who want more leg room. They have to realize that if they get 6 more inches of leg room, then so do all the rows in front of them and their seat in row K becomes row P. I’d rather be a little cramped and closer to the show then have ample leg room and need a pair of binoculars. Maybe we could take a suggestion from the airlines and create bigger seats with more leg room and charge a higher ticket price for them?

  • Matt says:

    I don’t think you can expect an usher to see what’s going on in the middle of a dark theater. If you see something say something! Chances are everyone else around you feels the same way. It takes a community to make a good theater going experience.

  • Bigger orchestras, especially for hit shows. (Even if that means waiting to see if the show is a hit then adding extra instruments.)
    And sell more related books at Concessions. I hope you’re selling Carol DeGiere’s Defying Gravity at Godspell. Just re-read the Godspell section today.

  • Matt says:

    Maybe Ken can correct me on this, but I believe that although the running cost of a 4 person play verses a 30 person mega musical are quite different the cost to produce them doesn’t vary as much. For example, the unions charge a minimum load-in fee regardless of whether the show has 4 actors or 30. The cost of publicity would be the same as well. I’ve heard that shows in London that have been running a long time actually reduce their ticket prices. Maybe Broadway could do something like that?

  • Sue says:

    — Check your cell phone at the door (wishful thinking, I know).
    — Educate the audiences. More leg room? Most of the theatres are designated historical landmarks and cannot be altered. That’s just one of the producers’ dilemmas. Ticket prices don’t have much wiggle room because of unions (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Educate, educate, educate.

  • San D says:

    I would have the announcer say (after the turn off the cell phone and unwrap the candies) “If you can hear the actors they can hear you”.

  • Paul Mendenhall says:

    Producers should make decisions about what to produce based on the quality of the material, and nothing else. The track record of the writers/composers, what stars they can attract to perform in it, public name recognition and/or familiarity with the property…all these things are destroying the very thing that makes theatre exciting: the chance to discover new talent and unexpected stories.

  • Bryan Austermann says:

    I’m going to jump on board with the “More Legroom / Bigger Seats” folks. THOUGH! I thoroughly enjoyed myself whilst sitting on the cushions on the floor for the GODSPELL lotto seats! SERIOUSFACE. Loved the show.

  • Trixie says:

    7 PM start times. Open doors earlier. No intermissions. More matinees. Buy TIX online. Audience is NOT allowed to stand at curtain call, unless it is a real ovation.

  • Rita says:

    So glad others said theatre etiquette and dress code! As social standards have gotten more relaxed, behavior in theatres (movies and broadway) has deteriorated. I know producers don’t control that, but selling snacks up and down the aisles like it’s the circus encourages circus behavior. And selling wine in a souvenir sippy cup? I wish I was kidding, but you all know I’m not. Perhaps it’s a great way for the theatre owners to make more money, but I preferred the time when drinks and snacks were not allowed in the house. Is it really not possible for audience members to sit for 75 minutes without snacking?
    Hey, thanks for the chance to get that off my chest!
    I’d love it if something could be done about the line for the women’s bathroom, but I realize that’s a question of space and plumbing.

  • Jo says:

    A lot of theatres in London offer special prices for registered disabled theatregoers, offering up to 2 seats anywhere in the theatre for the cheapest ticket price, for the person and a guide/helper. This is especially wonderful for visually impaired audience members because it allows them a chance to be able to see, even if they aren’t financially well off. I wish New York had a similar discount. TDF’s accessibility program is a good idea, but not useful for visitors to the city as their performances tend to only be on a specific date.

  • Donald says:

    Amen! Even if 1/3 of the shows did each did a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday matinee it would be a huge improvement. There may be problems with Tuesdays due to the required down-time in union rules and there might be a problem with two back to back 2-a-days on Friday and Saturday. I’d be interested in hearing Ken’s perspective on alternate scheduling.

  • Broadwayjayb says:

    Ok Can WeTalk About How The Box Office People (Excluding The Circle In The Square Peeps ) Are The Biggest A-holes In The History Of The World! Nowhere On Earth Do I Know Where I Get To Pay Money To Be Treated Horribly! They Are Pretty Bad Never Friendly And To Top It Off We Are Spending Good Money On A Priceless Experience! J

  • Kate says:

    I wish there was an easier way to raise front money….

  • Kaitlyn says:

    You know, I think the dressing up comment is interesting. I was taught to dress nicely when going to the theatre, by my parents. And then that was carried on when I did theatre in high school, and when we were ushering in college, we’d always have to look nice. Which I think is a good rule. Because it makes a good impression on your audience. But I think it’s kind of a good rule in general for the audience, because I think it means you actually care about what you’re doing. If that makes sense.
    And it absolutely bugs me when I see food and drink in the theater. It’s distracting. Live theatre is so much different than going to see a movie. I think it takes away from it. And if you spill something, it’s hard to clean.
    And eliminate the intermission? Is that person crazy? I’m sorry. But it’s a good thing, one, it allows a good transition in the show. Two, it gives the actors a bit of a break. And three, it gives the audience a break. I find more often than not, that I just can’t hold it through a 2-2 1/2 hour show. It’s a benefit for everyone!
    And that feels better to get off my chest…

  • Margie says:

    I would like to see all evening shows moved to 7pm — not just Tuesday nights. I LOVE getting home an hour earlier — also, if you eat AFTER the show, its much easier to eat at 9:30 or 10pm instead of an hour later. Are there any stats on 7pm as opposed to 8pm? Does Tuesday pm sell out faster all over Bway?

  • Texas Proud says:

    Get the unions to stop gouging the producers so the ticket prices COULD be lower. 😉

  • Eliana says:

    Well, I really liked the response “Better theater etiquette” – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a show when someone picked up the phone and started having a conversation!
    What I would say is – multi-show discount! (not like the roundabout subscriptions). If are you the kind of person who sees, for example, more than 3 shows a year, there should be a program of sorts that if you purchased tickets for all the shows at the same time – you would receive a discount. This could be an incentive to have theatergoers see more shows!

  • Sue says:

    Not sure how you could keep the audience from standing during a curtain call. But let’s add a request to stay at our seats until the house lights come up to the etiquette list. Hate it when people bolt before or while the cast is taking its bow. Saw this at NYC Ballet recently, too. So rude!

  • A. L. S. says:

    I’ve never had a rude person in a box office. ANYWHERE. But then again, I know I’m always plesant and polite to them first. From the tone of your post….that could be your problem.

  • A. L. S. says:

    Here’s something to look at Ken:
    What happens when bad weather keeps us from getting to a show? I know it’s not the theater or producers fault, but it certainly isn’t my fault either. (I’m talking about from a financial pov.)
    Today is a perfect example: I hail from Boston. Today I was suppose to get a bus into the city buy some theater tix for a future trip, meet a friend to see GODSPELL and then share a lovely dinner before catching the bus back home.
    As you know, we got a freak Nor’easter. My bus was cancelled and the first one they could put me on would have prevented me from getting into the city on time to see the show. (My companion (from CT) doesn’t even know if SHE can get in to the city on time.)
    So….I’m out of luck. I know there is post-dating that SOME shows allow — but here’s the issue: you have to go TO the box office to see if they will allow you to do it: and ONLY for that day. Sure, that’s great for someone IN the city, but it doesn’t work at all for us out of towners. Am I really expected to just “pop in” to see if MAYBE I can use a ticket I spent good money on? Ridiculous.
    I was looking forward to seeing Godspell. Love the show. Will I buy a SECOND ticket to see it, seeing how the money I spent for the first one was lost? Highly doubtful. Sad, isn’t it?
    Kind of like expecting a patron to pay for a second meal because someone else knocks into the waiter and your first meal is spilled. Sure it’s not the restaurant or waiters “fault” — but it wasn’t mine either.
    I know its hard to be able to sort out ‘legitmate’ claims vs people that are just late, or chose another option — but it IS something to be looked into. Tix are expensive from this end and I, for one, can’t just “throw it away too often”.



  • I vote for better theatre etiquette, as well. I spent a month’s pay to buy tickets for my family and I to see Memphis this past weekend. If I’m spending that much money, I want it to be for something special. The show, itself, was VERY special, but the audience was poorly dressed, and patrons were texting during the show!
    I think that Broadway should be more special than going to the movie theatre. However, that is hard to regulate. No one dresses up to go out to eat or even to go to church, anymore. Why should they dress nicely to go to the theatre? Maybe it’s best to pick our battles.
    BUT, texting at a show is SO RUDE. So many audience members were texting at my last show. As the most professional show I had ever produced, I was hurt. I knew what the cast, director, choreographers, band, crew, and I had put into that show. We made announcements before the show and during intermission. Still, a few people did not listen. When I usher at professional theatres and that happens, I am told to get the house manager to deal with the problem. It is not only rude to the show’s company, but also to other audience members.
    Broadway shows don’t seem to have enough ushers to deal with those issues. No one has EVER shown me to my seat at a Broadway show. They just point and read off the seat number on my ticket and then hurry me along so that they can help the next patron. No one has even told me to enjoy the show. So, I pay top dollar to be treated like I am in line at McDonald’s?

  • Taryn A. says:

    I agree with a couple of the comments. I think theater needs to be glamorous again. I think if there are dresscodes for clubs, there should be a dresscode for theater. Unless its a show like American Idiot or Rent, then it’s just awkward to dress up lol.

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