Forget what’s onstage; what’s happening to your butt can affect your enjoyment as much as the performance
At least part of the enjoyment of theater is reclining into a comfortable seat in a cool, dark theater and being taken to another place for a few hours. And “comfortable” is a key phrase.
Not all theater seats are created equal. Here is our run-down of some of the more bottom-friendly places to hunker down … and the ones that should only be occupied for short stints. (For ease, we rated them on a scale of one to four buns.)
Wyly Theatre. When the Wyly opened, the first thing everyone remarked on was the eye-popping design; the second thing was the ass-destroying seats. The DTC spend a fortune adding pillow-tops to the lime green bun warmers, but the Wyly is still among the least comfortable places to rest a weary ass; shows are best when the intermission comes no more than an hour in. (The production of King Lear nearly killed us.) One bun.
Winspear Opera House. Built at the same time as the Wyly by different architects, the Winspear’s ergonomic tush cushions are spongy but firm — the perfect blend of support and comfort. Still, when settling in for a four-hour opera, even comfortable seats begin to take their toll. Three-and-a-half buns.
City Performance Hall. Dallas’ newest performance venue offers fairly comfortable and attractive seats that look to be hard wood as you approach but which contain just enough padding to make an evening of dance or music enjoyable. Three buns.
Meyerson Symphony Center. Depending on if your in the orchestra or the loge, you get a different underside experience, but either place, the seating at this acoustical marvel, aside from being too cramped, cradles your back end. Three buns.
Kalita Humphreys Theater. The Kalita’s crushed red velvet chairs exude old-school Broadway without the threadbare look of most things in New York. Deep set with more-than-adequate leg room and a foamy bottom, it’s easy to sink into these chairs and enjoy any show — they’re the best seats in North Texas. Four buns.
The Undermain Theatre. The theater housed in the basement of a Deep Ellum condo actually bought the old Kalita seats and had to re-upholster them consistent with Frank Lloyd Wright’s original design. The downside: maneuvering the rickety risers on which the chairs are perched. Three buns.
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary. Two auditoria occupy this space — the Black Box with its rigid metal-frame-and-plastic seats and the Heldt-Hall with its converted movie theater chairs. The plastic seats are never comfortable, but it’s a lottery in Heldt-Hall: some of the seats lean forward so much they practically spill you into the patron in front of you. Neither enhances the experience. One-and-a-half buns.
Addison Theatre Centre. Like the Wyly, Addison’s theater space is mobile so the seat configuration changes show to show. What doesn’t change is how close they are with orthopedically challenging leg room. The chairs themselves recall office furniture from Staples — not exactly torture devises, but getting comfortable requires work. Two buns.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 23, 2013.