How to Be a Great Audience Member:
Sharing and Respecting a Live-performance Venue


The audience is a crucial element to any performance; events literally couldn’t happen without you!
What makes the Capitol Theatre different from other forms of entertainment is that the performers are live.

Below are answers to questions you may have that will help you to feel comfortable and positively support the on-stage artists as well as your fellow audience members.

Is there a dress code for going to the theatre?
There are no specific rules about what you to wear to the theatre. For some people, a visit to the Capitol is a special occasion and they will dress up! For others, it is very much a come-as-you-are affair. The decision about attire may also shift depending on what event you are attending. You may choose to wear something casual to a 60’s tribute band and dress up for a ballet performance. Ultimately, we are really happy to see you here supporting live events however you choose to express yourselves stylistically.

When should I arrive at the theatre?
It is usually a good idea to arrive at the theatre at least 20 minutes before the start time on your ticket. It will give you time to navigate any lines, find your seat, use the washroom, and read through any programme that might be available. In terms of theatre etiquette, it is important that you are seated before the lights go down.

If I arrive late, will I still be able to enter?
We know that there are sometimes that, due to factors beyond your control, you may be running behind. We will seat latecomers by waiting for a suitable break in the performance before guiding you to your seat. If your seat is in a place that may disturb others to get to and there are available seats at the back of the theatre, the usher will likely seat you at the back. This is to ensure that the performers and other patrons are not disrupted.

Are my seats interchangeable for other seats?
In most cases, seating at the Capitol is assigned although some event are general seating where you choose your seat when you arrive.
If you have an assigned seat, that is where you must sit. If you decide to take another seat because it is empty, you run the risk of being ushered back to your ticketed seat when the audience member who purchased that seat arrives. If you have any seating questions, you can always ask an usher or the box office.

When is it acceptable to use my cell phone at the theatre?
Cell phones are not to be used during a performance. At the beginning of most shows, an announcement reminds the audience to turn off cell phones. A general rule: If there is a performer on stage and the show is in progress, any electronics should be powered off and put away. At intermission, feel free to check if you must, but be sure to turn it off again before the second half commences. Approved electronics in the theatre include assistive listening devices as well as other electronics that serve an accessibility need.

May I talk during the performance?
Unless there is some sort of audience participation component to the show you are seeing, talking should be kept to a bare minimum. A quick whisper to your neighbour, or an audible reaction to something interesting that happens on stage is fine (this is what makes live theatre exciting!), but keep longer conversations to the intermission and after the show since they are distracting to both the performers and your fellow audience members.

May I get up to go to the washroom once the performance has started?
Getting up during the performance to use the washroom is distracting to those around you and often to those on stage. As much as possible, please plan to use the washroom before the performance or at intermission.
If you must get up during a performance, it is important to do your best to wait for a break between songs, scene change, or a moment of applause to minimize the disruption.
If you know you are someone who generally needs to get up during a performance, consider purchasing a ticket at the back of the theatre on an aisle so that you disturb the fewest possible audience members.

May I bring food or drinks with me?
Please refrain from eating or drinking anything during the performance other than the concession items which you are welcome to bring to your seats. Be aware of the potential for cans or water bottles placed on the floor to be kicked over which can create a mess and/or a lot of noise.

If there is no one in front of me, can I put my feet up on the seat?
As natural as it may feel to place your feet on the seat or armrest in front of you or on a railing if you are seated in front of one, please keep your feet off of everything except the floor to keep the seats and/or paint from sustaining damage.

Can I take photos or video during the performance?
We know that there are times (a friend or family member is on stage or your favourite artist is singing your favourite song) that it is tempting to snap a quick photo or take a short video. As much as you might wish to, this can be extremely distracting for other audience members as well as the performers. Unless you are specifically invited by the on-stage performers, please do not photograph or video any part of the show.
For presentations that are local events, there is often an official photographer or videographer that is capturing the show which will mean the event organizer has created a way for you to request photos or video after the performance. For the majority of professional artists, contracts strictly forbid the recording of a performance and The Capitol Theatre has a responsibility to enforce this.

What do I do if another audience member is disturbing our experience?
Please feel free to approach our Front of House volunteers and staff to ask for assistance.

I’m not sure when to clap in a performance of Classical music. What if I clap in the wrong place?
Usually at a concert, an audience will clap after every piece. In Classical music however, sometimes a piece is divided into sections known as movements. In that case, an audience will typically hold its applause until after the final movement. This is thought to provide an uninterrupted experience of the piece in its entirety for the audience. This is a relatively new, 20th Century kind of thing! If you would like to read more about the history of this practice, check out this article.

Do I need to stand up at the end while I am clapping?
At the end of the performance, please applaud the performers to thank them for their work. Some audience members may rise for a “standing ovation”; those displays are traditionally to acknowledge specifically profound or impressive work.
Here in supportive Nelson, it is not unusual to see an audience on their feet at the end of a show! Sometimes, this is done because the entire audience is expressing their appreciation. Other times, some audience members can feel as though they are obligated to stand if others are. There is nothing wrong with standing if you as an individual feel moved to show respect and admiration. There is also nothing wrong with remaining seated even if others around you are standing!

Young Children and Live Performance

Can I bring my baby or young child to the theatre?
Generally speaking, unless the show is one of our Family Series or a special matinee performance geared toward a very young audience, the recommendation is that you do not bring children under 5 years old. If you have a “babe-in-arms” or children from 6 – 12 years old, we encourage you to review How to Be a Great Audience Member in advance of the performance. Some shows will have posted age recommendations for productions or guidelines that list any mature material in performances. Please check those recommendations or phone the box office to request additional information to help you make a decision before booking your tickets.

Are there booster seats available?
Booster cushions are available upon request. Once you arrive, if it seems like having a raised seat will help your child to see, please feel free to ask a Front of House volunteers for one. These are available on a first-come, first-served basis. We ask only that you be aware that if your child is tall enough, a booster seat can negatively affect those behind you.

General Tips for attending with young children
• Arriving early helps to secure a booster cushion and allows time for necessary washroom visits
• Sitting close to an aisle will allow easier access to the exits and washrooms if necessary
• Matinees are often the most appropriate performances for children as evening performances can run quite late
• Make sure you research the show beforehand, as some children may not enjoy particular scenes
• Be aware of the behaviour expectations in a theatre
• The Capitol does not have baby changing facilities