How to learn English expressions connected with a night at the theatre

English expressions connected with a night at the Theatre

A trip (visit) to the theatre or cinema is always a welcome event. A visit to the theatre is a less common than a trip to the cinema for most of us. Here are some English words and expressions connected with a night at the theatre.

How to learn English expressions connected with a night at the theatre

London’s West End

We usually plan a visit to the theatre well in advance (several weeks or months) as tickets sell out (fully booked) quickly. Good shows (the theatre performance) are advertised many months in advance and you have to be quick off the mark (react quickly) to get your tickets. Online booking makes it a lot easier now so you avoid lengthy periods of time in a queue. However, if you apply for (to reserve) the tickets through a booking agent you get hit with (have to pay) an agents fee in addition to the ticket fee.

Ticket prices will vary depending on where you wish to sit in the theatre. You can sit in the stalls (usually ground level) or in the circle (upper level) or if you do not mind the price you can also reserve a box for you (private rooms to the left and right of the stage) and your guests. Opening night (first performance) usually costs more but people like the thrill of the first night performance. Often some well known celebrities may attend the opening night so you get to rub shoulders with (be next to) them!

The atmosphere is great and there is a real buzz (excitement) until the curtain rises and the actors appear on the stage. There is usually an interval in most performances and it is nice to be able to sip (to drink slowly) a cocktail during the interval and discuss the first part of the play. When the play ends the cast (actors and actresses) appear on the stage together and take a bow (acknowledge the audiences appreciation). There are often cries of encore (again, again) and much clapping and cheering. The leading actor/actress will usually get the most applause or even a standing ovation (everyone in the audience is on their feet clapping and cheering). So a little different than a night at the cinema but without the popcorn!

Here are a few English idioms connected to the theatre:

To wait in the wings – The wings are situated on the left and right of the stage. Here the actors wait to take their part. They enter and exit using these wings. However, we can use this expression to indicate when somebody is going to get their opportunity to perform.

ex. Philip had been working for his father for many years but did not make any important decisions. He did however know the business very well. When his father became seriously ill he had to take over. There was no problem as he had been waiting in the wings for many years waiting for the opportunity to show what he could do.

A tough act to follow – When someone is very good at their job but is about to retire or move elsewhere we refer to them as “a tough act” (a good performer) and they will be a tough act to follow for whoever takes their place.

ex. The manager of the football team had been in charge for 10 years. They had won everything. The won the cup several times and the league on more than one occasion. He decided to retire. He was a tough act to follow for which ever manager was appointed in his place.

The show must go on  – No matter what happens in show business they always perform. If someone is sick they have an understudy (a replacement ready). If the theatre goes on fire[ burns down] they move to a new location. This is what we mean by “the show must go on”.

ex. The leading actress had played this role for 5 years in the West end of London. She was everyone’s favourite. However,  one weekend she was very ill and could not perform. Her understudy who knew all the lines had to step in (replace her). No matter what the show must go on.

To be out of step – A step is part of a dance routine. To be out of step means that you are not in time with the music or that you are not keeping up with the other dancers. We can say somebody is out of step when they do something different than everyone else.

ex. Michael was a bit of a rebel at school. He was always out of step with the other students. When they wore the uniform he refused. When they wanted to play rugby he wanted to play football. This continued into his adult life. He was always out of step with everyone. He liked to be different.

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