Opinion: The Ambassador Box Experience at the Grand Opera House, York

These days, theatre is a pretty laid back experience, which is wonderful and inclusive and a worthy way to spend an evening. But if you’re looking to make your evening at the theatre just a little more special, there’s the option of not just box seats, but the Ambassador Box Experience… Yes, there is such a thing! I was invited to try out the Ambassador Box (Box E) Experience at the Grand Opera House, York this week for a performance of Abigail’s Party. My pal and I had lots to say, so let me tell you all about it…

On arrival, staff greeted us and showed us to our box personally (ooooh, fancy). The lovely staff couldn’t do enough to look after us and to be honest, we weren’t quite prepared for their attentiveness and had no diva demands to busy them with! They popped in before the show and a few times during the interval to take any orders and generally offer a smiley, friendly experience. 

Much to my joy, I managed to muster a request when I realised I’d forgotten to get a programme on the way up (one simply must have a programme, naturally). Our allocated staff member happily went off to fetch one for me – even saving me the anxiety of having to brave paying with a Scottish note at some point in the future – PHEW. Now, it was definitely unfamiliar territory to have this kind of attention and people running around after us but hey, I guess we should all enjoy being spoiled once in a while right?

Depending on what you select for your booking, various goodies will await… We were greeted by the decidedly thrilling sight of bubbly in a cooler, fancy crisps in bowls and absolutely delicious mini chocolate selections (the coffee flavour being the best and that is the hill I’ll die on…) As my pal and I were both driving, the bubbly was a no (much to our disappointment), but no fear: staff speedily went in search of alternatives to ensure that our VIP treatment held up.

Theatre seats in this venue are generally uniformly comfortable in my experience, and the box is no different except for the fact that you’ll sit in fancier sofa style seats. With the restricted view and pillar to navigate, I found myself propping myself up with an elbow on the box ledge. Surprisingly, that’s actually a very comfortable posture in a theatre – who knew? Those on the front row of the Circle can often be seen taking a load off by leaning on the ledge and if you’ve ever felt envious of them as you’ve sat two rows behind them leaning elbow on knee, know that the box provides a ledge all of your own…

My pal was closer to the stage so she didn’t quite get this luxury as she’d have blocked my view of she’d leaned too far forward, so there’s definitely a little negotiation required to get the best possible view for all. As we saw a play, we did find ourselves losing sight of some of the characters as they headed to the far right of the stage but naturally, that’s a compromise we all make when booking restricted view seats – and let’s face it, actors never actually perform entirely from the far right of the stage for two hours!

Other perks are aesthetic: space to yourself complete with the mellow décor of patterned wallpaper in keeping with the theatre’s colour scheme. The box also features convenient coat hooks so you need not worry about cramming coats and bags under seats or in laps. A minor perk perhaps, but put it all together and it just feels more like an event and a VIP space of your own.

So, what’s the verdict on the whole Ambassador Experience? While the box does offer a restricted view, the Box Experience offers a fair few perks to make the theatregoing experience feel like much more of a special occasion. Expect high quality nibbles, friendly and attentive staff (never a fuss and always a smile – we were very well looked after) and the thrill of sitting in the ‘special seats’. My whole life I’ve wondered what the ‘royal view’ is like in theatres. Now I know – and I think we should all get the chance to find out at least the once!

There are various options available when booking the Ambassador Experience – you can find out more here.

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