Extreme theatre seating

It’s certainly true that in most proscenium-style auditoriums, the first few rows are not the most coveted, for a variety of reasons but mostly related to not being able to see up and over the front of the stage, hence not really getting the stage layout or being able to see the actors when they are upstage (or the different instruments, in a musical context). See for example the Chicago Symphony Center seating charts below, with pricing strata color-coded.

But in this particular instance, is there more going on? Are the other attendees holding their program booklets, or are those some kind of splash shields? Does the “Extreme” name and the debris in front of the curtain indicate that there has been stuff flying around? So, the front row would be the most vulnerable of all?


  1. Sounds like Urban Variable has it…though it could be the traditional rotten fruit and eggs thrown at bad performers. I tend to think this one didn’t launch successfully from “concept” to “finished product.”

  2. I don’t know why you would assume bodily fluids, but Bob’s certainly going to need a shower when he gets home. I think this one launched just fine.

  3. Maybe the caption really intends “Being new to this theatre, Bob thinks…”. Whatever the ordinary good or bad sides to sitting up close, here at Extreme Theatre you better take that into account!

  4. Yes, those are face shields. You can see one patron holding his arm behind it and you can see his arm through it. They also have the cartoon characteristic glare marks on them.

    I think Powers and Danny Boy have it well covered beyond that.

  5. Never seen a Gallagher show, I take it. Or been to a porpoise show?
    We won seats second row center for Hamilton. While they were not as good as the seats we also won further back, they did have their good points, and were better than seats we also won in the upper balcony. (We won lots of seats – my wife is very lucky.)

  6. I found out the hard way never to sit in the front row at a ballet performance in the summer. By the end of Act I the air smelled like the inside of a Halloween mask. Someone else’s Halloween mask.

  7. I went to see the Blue Man Group at their original tiny theater in Chicago. When we got there I noticed the front 10 or so rows had some kind of plastic covers for people to slip under. There’s a surprising amount of splashing etc. in those shows.

  8. I was invited to a show at a “Varieté” theater in downtown Berlin earlier this month. The show had a lot of art deco and vaudeville elements (a variety of musical, acrobatic, dance, and comedy numbers). A few minutes before the curtain went up, the stage manager passed out clear plastic umbrellas to everyone in the first two rows, and warned the recipients that when they saw a bottle of champagne appear on stage, they should shield themselves accordingly. There was also dance number just before intermission that took place in a hemispherical plexiglas basin in the middle of the stage, for which the umbrellas were needed again by those seated front and center (the tub was full of water when it started, but not when it finished). Several stage hands spent most of the intermission wiping the floor.

  9. I went to a couple of Gallagher shows as a kid. People in the first few rows wore raincoats or carried large plastic sheets.

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