Theater FAQs

Get in the know on what to do before, at, during, and after the show.

Before The Show

Where do I buy tickets? Visit our shows to buy tickets online or call the box office at 650-329-0891 during weekday box office hours. Come to the ticket window starting one hour before the show to make an in-person purchase (subject to availability). For sold out shows come to the box office window to add your name to the wait list–we’ll do our best to get you in!

Need wheelchair/companion seats? call the box office at 650-329-0891 during weekday box office hours.

How do I find my ticket order? Visit your personal account at to view or download your tickets, and review your subscriptions and credit balance. Use the email used to buy your tickets, and the password you’ve already set to log in, or create a new password by clicking Reset here at “Forgot your password”.

I have tickets but can’t come to the show. We do not offer refunds and all sales are final. Please refer to our policies. However, (subject to availability) we’d be happy to make an exchange into best available seats at an upcoming performance of the same show; exchanges are $6 per ticket for single ticket buyers. Exchanges are only available by calling or emailing during weekday box office hours. Exchange requests made at or during in-person box office window hours cannot be accommodated.

How is “theatre” different from a movie theater? Theatre is live storytelling on a stage. When the storytelling includes singing & dancing, the show is generally called a musical; otherwise, it’s a play. You may see the alternate spelling “theater” used to refer to the actual building where the show takes place.

When should I arrive? Our productions start ON TIME! Arrive 30 minutes early and allow extra time to find parking*, walk through the Community Center grounds, locate and scan your tickets, and pre-order concessions (snack and drinks). Latecomers must wait in the lobby and will be seated by Palo Alto Players staff at an appropriate musical or scene break.

*Please note that the June, 2024 Murder on the Orient Express is presented at the Woodside High School theater.

What should I bring? Every person must have a show ticket; no children under age 3 are admitted.

Do you have booster seats? No we don’t. You may bring a low-profile booster or cushion that fits across a theater seat and does not result in an obstructed view for other audience members. You must be able to quickly move it to allow other patrons seating access and egress. Boosters cannot obstruct aisles or walkways.

What should I wear? Attire ranges from casual to formal – wear whatever enhances your experience. For example, patrons might come to the theater directly from school and work in jeans and sneakers; others might be here for a special occasion in suits and gowns. We do suggest you dress in layers in case the auditorium is not heated or cooled to your personal comfort level. The Lucie Stern Theater’s air handling systems are old and have trouble keeping up with changes in outdoor temperatures.

I have health questions. Visit our Health and Safety Update page.

How long will the show be?  Shows are typically 1.5 to 3 hours long. Some, but not all, include a 10-20 minute intermission about halfway through. Run times are listed at each show page.

What if I need help or have a question at the theater? Look for black and red Palo Alto Players nametags on our House Managers, ushers, staff, and board members; they’ll be very happy to help you.

Arriving At The Show

How do I get to the Lucie Stern Community Theater? Get driving directions. From the central courtyard, you’ll see the entrance to our lobby. From the parking lot, go around or through the Community Center wing. There is a pedestrian walkway to the courtyard from the corner of Hopkins and Harriet Streets. If you are experiencing mobility challenges, we encourage you to use the courtyard driveway as a drop off to the theatre entrance.

Where are the tickets I bought? If you chose will-call, your tickets will be available at the ticket window starting one hour before the show begins. If you chose e-tickets, search for the subject line “Your Palo Alto Players tickets are ready” from [email protected] or download them from your ticket account. Print the tickets or display them on your phone, for scanned entry to the show. Can’t locate your tickets? Box office staff can quickly reprint them at the ticket window.

When can I come inside the building? Lobby doors open 30 minutes before show time. With your tickets in hand, our volunteer ushers (dressed in black) will welcome you into the lobby. They’ll scan your ticket, provide you with a show program (free of charge at Palo Alto Players), and direct you to your seats in the theater.

Can I get food or drinks? Sales of snacks and  beverages (concessions) are a service to our patrons to enhance the theatre experience. We do not profit from these sales; all proceeds go to support the cast and crews of our shows. Concessions are available 30 minutes before the show and during intermission. We appreciate cash and accept credit cards and contactless forms of payment.

Where are the restrooms? Restrooms are available inside the theater building and may also be available in the Community Center wing.

What’s in a show program? The printed booklet given out by the ushers as you enter the theater contains valuable information about the show you’re about to see, including its estimated duration; whether there’s an intermission; its list of scenes and/or songs; its creators, cast, crew, and production team members; and the donors who support Palo Alto Players to make theatre available to broad audiences. A digital version of the program is also available at the theater via QR code.

During The Show

Silence phones and refrain from talking. The actors and your fellow audience members thank you for not disturbing others during the show. Cell phones can disrupt microphone frequencies – please put them on airplane mode during the performance. Keep your young children from making a disturbance; if an usher asks that you take the child outside please respectfully and quietly follow their instructions.

No video recording or photos. Video and photography of any kind are strictly prohibited and are a violation of licensing rights. Though it will disrupt those around you, ushers will require that you delete the file from your device during the performance. Respectfully and quietly follow their instructions.

No food or drink in the theater. Enjoy concessions before the show and during intermission in the lobby or courtyard. Absolutely no food is permitted inside the auditorium. Beverages must be consumed before re-entering the auditorium, with the exception of approved drinks contained in a lidded Palo Alto Players theater cup.

How are we able to hear the actors on stage? Actors often wear “body mics,” or portable microphone packs that are concealed within their costumes. If you look very closely, you might see the flexible tip of the mic taped near the actors’ foreheads or jawlines.

Where is the music coming from? For shows that have an orchestra, if the musicians are not seen onstage, they’re actually under the stage, in an area called the orchestra pit. While you may not see the music director, actors often have a live video feed at the back of the theater, where they can see the music director’s cues to synchronize them with the orchestra.

What should I do during intermission? Stretch your legs, use the restroom, visit the lobby, purchase concessions, or simply stay in your seat to wait for the second act. A chime sound will let you know when the intermission is coming to an end.

During bows at the end of the show, why do the actors gesture to different parts of the theater? Depending on where the musicians and/or production team are located, the actors are pointing out the orchestra pit (under the stage), the sound booth (at the back of the theater), and/or the light booth (high up at the back of the theater) to acknowledge the other key contributors to the show you’ve just seen.

Why do some audience members stand up when they’re clapping at the end? The standing ovation is an extra gesture of appreciation for the artistry of the show. It’s not required, but if you were touched by the story you just saw onstage, feel free to jump to your feet too!

After The Show

What’s the large banner in the lobby with the Palo Alto Players logo all over it? Called a “step and repeat,” we invite everyone to use this backdrop as a photo op–a wonderful memory of your experience at the theatre!

In addition to attending the shows, how can I support Palo Alto Players? Please share your theatre experience with friends; make a donation to keep theatre broadly accessible; audition for an upcoming show; or volunteer with us. We hope to see you again soon!

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