Making the Most of Intermission at a Broadway Theater
The intermission break at a Broadway show gives you just 15 minutes in between acts - use the time wisely!
Most Broadway shows with a running time that exceeds 90 minutes will include an intermission. Intermissions can be anywhere from 10-20 minutes, with 15-minute breaks being by far the most common. To most people, 15 minutes seems like ample time to stretch your legs a bit, have a snack and a drink, stroll to the restroom, and return to your seat. The problem is, when you’re at a Broadway show, there are usually several hundred people trying to do all those things at the same time as you.
The Race to the Restroom
The biggest trial during intermission — especially for women — is the bathroom break. There are still a few old Broadway theaters that have restrooms with just three or four stalls in them. Thankfully most theaters have upgraded their facilities by now, but the restroom line continues to be epic during Broadway intermissions. If you want to successfully get to the bathroom and back to your seat before Act II, we recommend that you plan to run like your life depends on it the minute the Act I curtain goes down. Strangely, the majority of audience members make their way to the restrooms in a leisurely fashion, so if you zip over there right away, you’re very likely to beat the crowds.
Getting to the Bar
Similar rules apply for getting a drink or snack at the bar during intermission. Speed is always your friend. But even if there is already a sizable line when you get there, bear in mind that Broadway bartenders are skilled at doling out the drinks and candy quickly, so the line moves fast (just make sure you have your money ready, so you’re not holding it up). The best reason for arriving at the bar early is to ensure that you have time to enjoy your beverage before going back to your seat. Of course, nowadays, most drinks are served in spill-proof cups, and you can take those back to your seat with you.
Escaping the Crowds and Enjoying the Night Air
If you want to take in a little fresh air at intermission, getting outside the Broadway theater is a possibility. Unless you are seated in the middle of the row way up in the balcony, ducking outside for a few minutes is usually not a problem. Just make sure you bring your Broadway ticket stub with you, because the usher will want to see it when you come back inside the theater. (This is to stop “second acting,” a practice where people who haven’t purchased a Broadway ticket try to sneak inside during intermission.)
People Watching: Another Form of Live Theater
Some Broadway patrons prefer to avoid the hassle of fighting with the crowds altogether and just stay at their seat during the intermission break. This offers time to discuss the play or musical with your companion, read the Playbill, and engage in people watching.
Unfortunately your fellow patrons can make what should be a restful intermission annoying if they are constantly exiting the row, forcing you to stand up so they can get past you. Almost all Broadway theaters are so compact that it’s impossible for a person to squeak by people who are seated. This goes to show what a blessing and a curse the aisle seat is. One one hand, you get leg room; on the other hand, you can’t sit in peace for more than 10 seconds before someone is either entering or exiting your row.
However you spend your Broadway intermission, just make sure that you unwrap your candies and silence your cell phones before the curtain goes back up!