[Your Input Needed] What Can We Do To Make Our Theatergoers More “Comfortable” Post COVID?

I need your help.

Scratch that.

Broadway . . . nope.  Scratch that too.

The theater needs your help.

The good news is that our city, state, and federal officials are turning their attention towards how we open up our country again.  While our eyes must continue to be on the ball of stopping the spread of this piece of @#$% virus, it looks like we’ve made enough progress to at least start thinking about how we open up our offices, our restaurants, and yes, our theaters.

(Although, for the record, there are some elected officials out there who seem to think that going bowling is more important than stopping the spread right now – and to the citizens of those states, I say this . . . just because someone says it is ok to do something, doesn’t mean you have to do that thing.  It’s legal to smoke, but that doesn’t mean anyone should do it.  Same thing here, folks – except this @#$% of a @#$%ing virus could kill you a lot faster than smoking.  Sorry to be so direct – but, well, there ain’t no time for niceties.)

The theaters will probably be the last to get the go-ahead from the Doctors and other folks whose opinions are not politically motivated that it’s ok to proceed with our plays and musicals . . . which is where you come in.

The world has shifted.  We’ve lost months.  And millions of dollars.  Thousands of jobs.

And we could lose hundreds of thousands of theatergoers.

To put it in marketing-speak . . . there is more friction now than ever before preventing the casual theatergoer from buying a ticket.

They’re scared.

Our job as theatrical Harold Hills (salesmen and saleswomen) is to simply REDUCE THAT FRICTION to not just telling them they are safe, but making them so.

While the theatergoer might be concerned with the cost of a ticket, I’d postulate that they are going to be more concerned with whether or not they can get sick as a result of buying that ticket . . . even when the doctors say it’s ok to gather.

So . . . what can we as theater producers, artistic directors, venue operators, etc. do to make our theatergoers more comfortable with not just buying a ticket, but actually going to the theater.

I’ve got some ideas.  And I’m going to list them below.  But this blog is not meant to be a “10 Things I’d Do To . . . ” entry.  Because we’re in unchartered territory here, to say the least.  And what do I know?

This blog is meant to be a giant whiteboard where you can scribble down your ideas.

That’s right . . .

I want YOU to give me YOUR IDEAS on how to make our audiences feel more comfortable when they come back to the theater.

Fill up the comments with suggestions, thoughts brainstorms, ideas, etc.  And there is no idea too big, too “crazy” or too challenging.  Just put it up.  Don’t even think about it too much.  Pretend that this is a sprint.  You have 30 seconds to come up with as many ideas as possible!  Go!

Let’s get 100 or more so we have more of a chance of finding the silver marketing bullet that helps keeps our customers safe when they come back to us.  And I promise to sift through them and pass them on to our industry leaders.

Because who better than to tell us what we need to do next, than you, people who actually buy tickets.

Ok, I’m going to kick this off with 10 free-associated ideas in no particular order . . . put 30 seconds on the clock . . . and here I GO!


  1. Signage in all bathrooms reminding not just employees to wash their hands but reminding EVERYONE to wash their hands.
  2. A pre-show email that offers free-exchanges for anyone not feeling feel, with a reminder of symptoms to look out for and a recommendation they take their own temperature before they leave the house on the day of the performance . . . even if they have no symptoms.
  3. Show branded masks distributed to theatergoers on the way in (I told you there was no idea too crazy!).
  4. No physical tickets so no ticket pickup – electronic tickets only.
  5. Asking for “Recommended Sanitation Guidelines For Large Venues” from the CDC, adhering to them, and asking for a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” that will show patrons we’re “Following the guidelines prepared by the federal government.”
  6. Opening the theaters earlier.
  7. Temperature checks of patrons at the theater.
  8. Hand sanitizer becomes the new Ricola both backstage and front-of-house.
  9. Merchandise sold outside the theaters or online only (this one was hard for me to type – because it would definitely affect a show’s bottom line).
  10. “At-Risk” social distanced performances . . . taking a cue from the grocery stores, certain shows (Wednesday matinees perhaps?) are designed for at-risk audiences and only 30-50% of the house is sold to allow for social distancing.

How I’d do?  Any have merit?

I’m sure you can do better.  So let’s see ’em.  Great ideas are out there.  The fact is, and we’re going to need them all.

So, ready, set  . . . GO!

(And please share this blog – the more ideas – the better chance the theater has in getting back to where it was the fastest!)

P.S. I’ll be going LIVE tonight on my Facebook page with Tony-nominated Composer Joe Iconis (Be More Chill, Broadway Bounty Hunter). Join us here at 8pm EDT.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.