Set the Stage! Here’s What You Should Know About Theater Handrails?

Theatres continually welcome a range of guests of all ages and abilities. This means that they must be built to standards that allow everyone to use them as easily as possible. Handrails are required on stairs and may be positioned on the outer edge of the stairs or in the center of a stairway to allow access to seating on both sides of the stairs. There are a number of different factors to take into consideration when looking into theater handrails, including the location, whether or not it needs to be illuminated, the type of infill, handrails, aesthetics, and color.

Let’s take a closer look at these factors and some theater handrail design ideas.

Theater Handrail Considerations


To determine the best theatre handrails, it’s essential to consider their location. Theater handrails may be used in interior or exterior spaces depending on the needs of the theater and the location of the theatre itself. Open air amphitheatres may have different needs than traditional indoor theatres, and these locational needs should be considered when making the final handrail determinations.


Depending on the needs of the space, lighted handrails can offer increased visibility that allows theater patrons to find their seats safely. VIVA offers three LED illuminated railing options — iRAIL™ Linear, iRAIL™ Pods, and iRAIL™ Capsule — and the choice of warm or bright light with either a clear or diffused lens.


Choosing the right infill for theater handrails can make a huge difference in the theater experience, onstage and off. One of the main goals of theater handrails is to create the necessary safety without obscuring the view to or from the stage. Cable, picket, and glass infills are ideal for theater handrails because they won’t block the view. Where an infill isn’t needed or required, the FSR™ Free Standing Rail System is an excellent choice.


Depending on the location of the railing system, its distance from the ground, and its uses, a handrail may or may not be necessary. Where a guard is required, a top rail is all that’s necessary, but on stairs and ramps, a handrail is likely needed in addition to the top rail.


Increasingly, spaces are designed to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional.

Designing a theater is about the entire experience. From the time the guests walk in the door until the time they leave, they should be immersed in the experience, and good design can help. Choosing a railing system that meets the safety needs of the space, while also enhancing the aesthetics is key to creating the ideal theater.


VIVA Railings offers both ECM and powder coating for our railing systems, so the railings can blend in or stand out effortlessly. You can choose from our standard color options or create a customized color that will complete your theater design.

Customize the System


VIVA Railings offers lots of customization options for all of our handrail systems. In this design, at the Millikin Center for Theatre and Dance, the FSR™. Free Standing Rail System is used to provide support in the center of this combination of a traditional stairway and social stairs. Instead of running the full length of the stairway, it creates interest with smaller railing sections that create a sense of motion moving up the stairs.

For a full view of the surrounding space and through the adjacent windows, the SHOE™ Glass Railing System allows for an unobstructed view while still providing the necessary support to travel up and down the stairs.

Consider the Exterior


The McGrath Amphitheatre Venue is a naturalized, outdoor amphitheatre that features community programs and nationally touring acts throughout the year. The stairways, ramps, and walkways that lead to the theater use the CIRCA® Picket Railing System to create all of the necessary safety and stability required as people walk to their seats. The picket infill ensures a clear line of sight to the actual stage, and it also includes a handrail to guide people as they travel to the viewing area. This system also incorporates the iRAIL™ Linear system to add visibility after dark.

Create the Right Configuration


The Mansfield ISD Performing Arts Center includes an expansive performance hall that can seat approximately 5,500 people. The curved configuration is the hallmark of many performing arts centers that allows for the optimal viewing experience regardless of the seats’ locations. To accommodate the curved space, the CIRCA® Multiline Railing System curves when needed and is also installed in a straight configuration throughout the space.

VIVA Railings Can Help You Set the Stage for the Theatre Experience

Choosing a theater railing doesn’t have to be complicated. VIVA Railings offers a wide range of railing systems with lots of opportunities for customization that can help you create the ideal railing. Options include illuminated railings, curved configurations, powder coating, stainless steel or wood handrails, and more.

Contact the experts at VIVA Railings today to discuss theater design and see how we can help!