Tickets to a show on the “The Great White Way” are expensive, but they don’t have to be. The joys of theater are not unattainable to those lacking exorbitant funds as there are many tips and tricks to get yourself into the audience of a Broadway show on a budget.
— Your best bet for most shows is to head straight to the box office the day you want to see the show. Shows want a full house – it’s what keeps them running. Therefore, they will sell you tickets at a major discount the day of to ensure there are no leftovers.
— Head to the theater early. Don’t set an alarm or anything as arriving around 10 or 11 in the morning is usually fine. Ask what they’ve got for the performance you’re interested in, either matinee or evening. Don’t be afraid to split up if you’re in a group. Oftentimes the best seats available are single seats peppered throughout the orchestra. You and your friends will all be in the same theater, so don’t worry about sitting separate during the show. You can always meet up during intermission to chat.
— Go to the app store and download TodayTix, which works the same way as the box office. They’re selling leftover tickets at a major discount, but instead of only selling day by day they sell weekly. What’s more, you don’t have to go anywhere, just order the tickets straight through the app. So if it’s Monday and you know you’re going to be in the city Friday night, you can order discount tickets for Friday night! Show discounts vary, some will give discounts as high as 53 percent off while others will only give you about 17 percent. Generally speaking, you can easily get tickets to a show for under $50 apiece, which is a steal.
— If possible, see shows during off times. Prices often skyrocket during the summer and the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays because it is peak tourist season. Seeing shows during the week and during off-season times like winter or early spring, you’re likely to get a much, much better deal. It’s harder for theaters to have sell-out shows during this time and they are therefore very eager to sell you tickets at a big discount.
— Hunting online is also a good way to find cheap tickets. This was how I managed to find reasonably priced tickets to “Hamilton,” the show many consider impossible to get into. Now when you go to ticketmaster.com and see the prices of tickets they claim are available, don’t despair. A lot of second-hand places are going to want to sell you the tickets for downright ridiculous prices, so ignore them and keep looking. There are other second-hand websites who will have discounts and sales so it’s just a matter of hunting through the internet until you find them. They exist, I promise.
— TKTS, one of the world’s most daunting lines. TKTS is the prime seller of discounted Broadway tickets. There are four booths for TKTS throughout the city, the most well known being located right in the heart of Times Square. Having traversed this line on numerous occasions, my first word of warning is that it’s a total crapshoot. Outside the booth is an electronic board with a list of shows they have tickets available for. While the show you want may very well be on the list when you get in line, there is no guarantee it will still be there by the time you get to the front counter. If you’re planning to try this, get in line with at least three shows in mind. That way you have something to fall back on if your top choice is no longer available.
The waiting time varies, on a rainy day during off-peak time there may be no one in line. On a perfect day in the middle of July, however, be prepared to wait upwards of an hour at least. Timing also comes into play as getting there in advance will help boost your chances of getting what you want. The saying “the early bird gets the worm” comes into play here. If you decided to just show up at TKTS at any given time you’re playing a game of chance, and chances are you’re going to lose and walk away disappointed.
Once again, do not be afraid to split up your group. TKTS only has what it has and may not have a block of tickets together. However, they may have pairs or single tickets still left so always ask. Do not be afraid to take them if they’re available! It’s worth it. It’s also of note that while they’re the most discounted tickets you’ll find on Broadway, oftentimes the view is less than exemplary. In fact, when I saw ”The King and I” using TKTS I daresay they were the worst seats in the entire theater. However, I have also ended up with prime orchestra seats at a low price through TKTS, so you never know. It’s a complete game of chance.
— Choose your show wisely. Anything produced by Disney is automatically expensive, that’s just them. “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” are difficult or sometimes even impossible to find discounts for, even through TodayTix. This also applies to show that are in high demands, such as “Hamilton” or even “Wicked.” However, a show that has been long running such as “Phantom of the Opera” or even something like “Matilda” or “Kinky Boots” will have better discounts and more leftover seats available to try for.
As someone who has lived in the theater world since before she can remember, I also recommend not limiting yourself to Broadway. The NYC Ballet is a class act, something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime even if it’s just an old classic like “The Nutcracker.” The Metropolitan Opera is now more accessible to the general public, with a board above the stage translating operas in foreign languages into English so you can better understand the story and what the singers are, well, singing about. NYC is also home to the Big Apple Circus and Cirque du Soleil, which are certainly worth checking out.