How Do You Survive the Intermission Restroom Stampede?

Amy Sapp

  • Show-Score

Every theatergoer knows this moment: Act one ends. The ushers emerge from the darkness. The air fills with static as hundreds of people rise with a single purpose.

The intermission restroom stampede is about to begin.

More than once, I've been swept away on a tide of patrons racing to relieve themselves before act two. I'd like to avoid the chaos, but sometimes staying in my seat just isn't an option. Sometimes I need to make the most of those sweet fifteen minutes myself.

I've been thinking about how to navigate the throngs. How about you? What are your strategies for having a good bathroom experience at a Broadway show?

Here are few of my personal tricks. Please share yours in the comments! (And don't forget to read our recommendations for the most beautiful ladies' rooms on Broadway and beyond.)

Step One: I make mental notes.

 When I walk into a theater, I always take a mental snapshot of the bathrooms closest to my seat. Often times, theaters have several bathrooms on multiple floors, and larger houses like the Broadway or the Shubert are especially well outfitted. I seek out these oases before curtain call, and I encourage you do to the same!

Step Two: I move immediately

 If I even think I might need a restroom, I use the last few moments of act one to prepare for my dash down the aisle. It's important to start a bathroom trip right away, since landing in the back of a lengthy line may cost you a few minutes of the show. On a recent trip to see the musical "Bandstand", for instance, my plus one decided to rush to the men's room two minutes before a curtain call. Unfortunately, he was not quick enough; I spent an act sitting alone while he watched from the aisle, unable to squeeze his way back into our row without disrupting our fellow theatergoers. (By the way, if you haven't seen "Bandstand", you really should. Put it on your Show-Score wish list, and you could win tickets!)

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 Photo: Hilary Swift for The New York Times