Q: If I want really good seats, what time should I arrive?
A: Our box office opens at 5:30 p.m. and that's when we let those people who have been waiting on line in and on to the lawn area to put down their chairs. A lot of factors figure into how early the line begins to form, and how long it might get: the weather report, the day of the week, and the type of show. It is hard to generalize, BUT a blockbuster family musical such as WIZARD OF OZ, on a sunny Friday with no predication of rain, will most likely find a line forming about 2 p.m. in the afternoon, often building to about 200 patrons by the time we open the gates. This is the first rush, and these early birds take up the first several rows. Then, over the next few hours until 8:30 p.m., there will be flurries of activity. But please keep in mind we comfortably seat 2000, so there are still plenty of spaces. You DO NOT have to show up this early. It is a rare occasion indeed for us to turn anyone away, and more often than not it is because there are no more parking spaces.
On a night where there is a chance of isolated thunderstorms (which is just about every night it seems), the line will form about 4 p.m. and will reach 100 or less by 5:30 p.m. So judge accordingly, but keep in mind that the first few rows are not necessarily the best position for SOUND --- higher up on the hill is more in line with the speakers.
Q: Do I have to bring my own chairs, and what kind should I bring?
A: Yes, we provide the lawn - you provide the seats. And when you accommodate as many as we do, there is a need to be specific as to the type of chairs allowed. If your seats are too tall, then the people behind you won't be able to see; and if you bring a blanket or a seat that is too low, you won't be able to see. We have found that standard woven-plastic lawn chairs, or the resin one piece chairs sold in super-markets, or canvas chairs in carry bags are acceptable IF THE BACK IS NO HIGHER THAN 40". Due to complaining fellow patrons, if you do arrive with a chair higher than 40" we will have to ask you to sit in the area to the side, referred to with affection as "the berm". Below are examples of the types of acceptable chairs:
Q: Will you cancel the show if it's raining?
A: This is a tough question. We at the theater never wish to cancel, and will wait until the last possible minute, but there are a number of factors to consider. Anything heavier than a mist can ruin thousands of dollars of sound and lighting equipment, as well as the musician's instruments. Heavy downpours are dangerous to fleeing patrons and actors who slip on the wet stage while dancing. It takes approximately 45 minutes of clear skies to dry out equipment and set up the orchestra, so if we have a long show there is no window of opportunity to hold off, starting the show late. Generally, if it is raining at 8 p.m. we will cancel. If it is drizzling before 8 p.m., but stops at 8 p.m., we'll move forward.
Bottom line --- we will wait as long as we can to cancel, but we simply cannot predict the weather. We work off the same weather reports as you - watch the same computerized Doppler and are not privy to any insider information. If you are truly concerned about the weather, try and schedule your visit when clear skies are predicted.
Q: Do you have any matinees?
A: Why no...being an outdoor theater we need to wait until it is dark in order for our lighting to be effective.
Q: Can I get tickets in advance?
A: No, tickets are sold on the day of the performance only, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at which time you may buy your ticket(s) and place your lawn seat(s) out in the seating area. You can then leave ---- after getting your hand stamped --- and have dinner. Just return before curtain time of 8:30 p.m.
NOTE: We have a CASH ONLY policy at our Box Office.
Q: Where exactly is the box office?
A: It is located just a dozen or so yards from the theater. As you approach PIP from Grandview Avenue and Pine Drive, the Park Rangers will guide you where to park your car (parking is free) and you will then see the two paths that lead to the box office. This is where patrons arriving early queue up.
Q: Can I buy several tickets for people who are coming late?
A: Yes, as long as you have a ticket for every chair, and can carry all those chairs. You cannot save spaces without placing down a chair.
Q: Can I bring pets?
A: Not unless it is for assistancel, pets are not allowed within the gates. There are people who are allergic or frightened; there is the problem of loud noises triggering a barking spree, and there is the issue, of, well, toilet habits. Leave out plenty of cool water, and keep Fido home.
Q: Can I bring food and/or coolers?
Yes, there are picnic tables available. Just please clean up. We also have concession stands and are walking distance from diners, pizzerias and the Menlo Park Mall. Alcohol, on the other hand, is forbidden unless you pay for a permit (732-745-3900).
Q: Can I leave a ticket at the box office for people to pick up?
A: No - sorry. There are only two people in the box office and they have enough work to do keeping up with the people purchasing tickets.
Q: Why is the lawn blocked off for parking?
A: Sometimes after a good soaking from a summer rain, the parking area turns to mud and we have had cars get stuck. When possible, we will re-route you to enter at higher ground. Did you also know there is a paved parking area directly across from the theater?
Q: What's with all that stuff about "entering" and "exiting" gates?
A: On crowded nights it is important for us to maintain a flow of patrons getting in and out of the lawn area, and also to monitor those less-than-honest theater-goers who might enjoy sneaking in (yes, it happens). By designating certain gates as entrances and others as exits, it makes these two jobs easier.
Q: What do I do if the handicapped parking lot is filled --- may I drop people off?
A: Absolutely. Just mention this to the Park Rangers who are directing traffic.
Q: Is there a wheelchair section and how does it work?
A: There are actually 4 sections for people with special needs -- not only wheelchairs. Ample special needs seating is available down in front to the right and left of the center seating areas and in four smaller sections integrated throughout the center section. These sections are clearly marked by signage, green partitions and blue paint. Patrons requiring assistance due to a disability are encouraged to contact Jackie Neill, Recreation Supervisor at 732-745-3936, prior to attending a performance so that any special needs may be met.
Disability services include *Sign Language Interpretation, Accessible Parking and Barrier-free access to seating, box office and parking areas. We often offer the following as well: Audio Description, Large Print and Braille programs.
*Second Wednesday of each run.
Q: What's all this talk about rain stubs?
A: Should it rain during a performance, the show will need to be cancelled due to the musicians and electrical equipment, as well as your safety. However, if you save your rain stub from your ticket, you may use it to attend at no additional charge any future summer performance up to a year later. And you don't have to wait in the ticket buyers line; there will be a special window or table set up where you can immediately exchange your stub for a new ticket on the night you decide to revisit us. The Rain Check line will open 3 minutes after the Box Office opens. There is only one chair allowed for each rain stub. The stub is not good for the children's musicals or "JOSEPH" however --- just the summer shows.
Q: Are there Senior Discounts?
A: Yes indeed! Regular admission price is $7.00; seniors 60 years of age and older are admitted for $5.00
Q: Why are there reserved metal chairs out on the side section when I arrive at 5:30 p.m.?
A: Our actors and backstage staff are all volunteers. We do not offer them comps, but we do set aside 40 spaces on the lawn for cast and crew use. They're allowed 5 or 6 seats each per run of the show for parents and friends. It is the least we can do.
Q: What is that elevated table up against the booth at the top of the hill for?
A: This is where we monitor and control the sound. We moved it from the middle of the hill to provide more seating and to give us a better vantage point to work from. By the way, talking should be kept at a minimum at the top of the hill so that the engineers can hear properly.
Q: Can I enter after the box office closes?
A: Why in the world would you want to? You've missed a half hour of the show and are not going to find any decent spots to sit. But yes, if you have to, be our guest.
Q: Where, and for that matter what, is the berm?
A: On the audience left side of the grassy knoll seating area there is a new, elevated grassy area, which is called a berm. This area is designated for people without chairs, or with incorrectly sized chairs, blankets, or babies.