Dressing the house
- To dress the house is to create the illusion of a large audience by sprinkling a smaller audience throughout the auditorium, leaving occasional seats vacant and using as many rows of seats as possible. Theatre managements also "papered the house" by giving away complimentary tickets to create the impression of a larger audience when ticket sales were weak.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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house — [hous; ] for v. [ houz] n. pl. houses [hou′ziz] [ME hous < OE hus, akin to Ger haus (OHG hūs) < IE * (s)keus < base * (s)keu , to cover, conceal > SKY] 1. a building for human beings to live in; specif., a) the building or part of a… … English World dictionary