Your ticket has the correct time printed on it, look at it and get to the theatre at least 10-15 minutes before that printed time so you have time to do all those things you want to do before the show begins. Things like visiting the bar, using the restroom, coat check, turning off your mobile, finding your seat, looking at your playbill, etc.
If that amount of time is, for some reason, not enough, and you find the show has started, and you are not seated, you have now entered the world of musical chairs. While there is music, or action, on the stage people cannot be seated until an appropriate break in the action. The actors are important now, not the patrons. Sometimes this wait can be 2 minutes, other times it's 20 minutes, sometimes it is an entire Act. Just watch the show and be patient, the ushers have not forgotten you.
Speaking of ushers, let's talk about what an usher's job is at a theatre: Ushers do not just hand out playbills and answer questions. They also know where all the seats in the theatre are, and therefore, can seat you quickly and easily. Finding the seat yourself tends to annoy them. Ignoring them tends to annoy them as well. If you at least show them your ticket and ask politely for a playbill, then if you still know where your seat is without assistance, they will be less annoyed when you explain that. Ushers also make sure during a show there is not a lot of problems. They know when patrons can be seated; which door patrons can exit from; where the bathrooms are; and can assist with other problems. If they are unable to assist you, they know which person can help you. That person is generally the House Manager, but the manager is not always as helpful, depending on which theatre you visit. If you have a legitimate problem the House Manager can and will assist you. Legitimate problems tend to include: seats are too small for patron, annoying patrons near you, and duplicate ticket issues. Problems that House Managers do not always want to address are issues such as: "I bought a balcony seat but I didn't realize you didn't have an elevator and I cannot walk up stairs", "I don't like my upstairs seat because... can I sit downstairs?", "I bought standing room, but I want to sit down.", "I bought a discount ticket from... and I don't like where it is. Can I sit.... ", "I know your show is sold out, but I want to move my seat to..."
Information is provided by box offices and the online ticket sites that show a seating chart and the location of one's seats. Many times, you can pick which seats you want, so not knowing which level your seat is on does not make sense to the front-of-house staff. We do assist without comment, however, because we understand there is a lot going on during the walk-in time. Most seats in a theatre have a great view of the stage, and the ushers will say that. We are not just placating you. We sometimes are placed in areas that have a more partial view than you do, so we know your seat is better from experience.
People who buy the full price tickets, we like you because you're supporting the arts. People who buy the discount tickets, we like you because you're supporting the arts. We like everyone who goes to the theatre that sometimes we seat you all in the same row. That's right, folks! Some of you paid $150 for a ticket in row J, and right next to you or behind you is a family of four that bought their tickets with a coupon and paid $150 for all four of them. Is this fair? Absolutely.
We do have ADA accessible seating for wheelchairs and for other people with disabilities. If you don't ask for them, you may not get them. If you bought a seat that is not on the aisle for yourself or another person who requires special seating, please ask. Thank you.
Please do not take pictures of anything in the theatre at any time. It doesn't matter if others are doing it, it really isn't allowed and is illegal and we can call the police and fine or arrest you. We don't go to your place of business and just start snapping photos without asking. It's rude. Also, please turn off your phone before the show starts. Off means off, not silent, not on vibrate. OFF. The glow of the screen is distracting. Internet searching is distracting. Texting is distracting. Why do you pay money to watch a show and then ignore it? If you're bored, please get up and go outside to use your phone. This way you're not bothering people who want to enjoy themselves. You are not the center of the universe nor the center of attention.
Don't open up doors in dark theatres. We know where the doors are. Please ask us.
Plastic bags making noise during a show is rude. We know you bought snacks, or have gum or mints, but please be considerate of other patrons. Open things before the show starts, or do it during a loud moment. Even the actors can hear it. It's distracting and annoying.
There are many websites and webpages that explain theatre etiquette. This is merely another one. Those that are reading those know better, please, tell your friends that don't.
Please tip the ushers if you feel they give you helpful service. Even a dollar makes them happy. While they will do their job regardless of a tip, they would still appreciate it.
Not sure what else to put here at the moment, thanks for reading and suggestions for more will be welcome.