How To: Broadway On A Budget

I’m usually one of those people who has a difficult time picking favorites but I can say without hesitation that my favorite thing about living in NYC is Broadway. I have endless stacks of Playbills hidden around my room, an iTunes playlist full of the best show tunes to belt out, and I still refuse to unfollow the official Hedwig account on Twitter (JCM I miss you!!!!) As someone who loves to see as many shows as possible, I know just how expensive tickets to these shows can get. But over the past couple of years as a college student, I have made it a priority to find the best, cheapest, and most convenient ways to get Broadway tickets without emptying my wallet. Here are some of my favorite was to see Broadway on a budget!

Side note: With the exception of #Ham4Ham, Hamilton does not apply to most of these because you will never get tickets to Hamilton on a college student’s budget.

1) Rush/Lotto

My first look into the (not so) secret world of discounted tickets was when I went with some friends to rush "Peter and the Starcatcher". Rushing for tickets means waiting on line in the morning before the box office opens to get any tickets they have for the day of the performance. These tickets are generally cheap (around $30) and seating varies. Because they are for the performance that day and the prices are lower, tickets may be “obstructed view” or have some other limitation. Depending on your comfort level, this is usually an okay compromise. For example, I sat in the front row to the far right of the theater, but I still felt it was a great theater experience. In addition to rushing, some theaters will offer a lottery for tickets of that day’s performance. People can head to the theater usually 2 or 3 hours before the show to enter their name in a lottery drawing. Usually after half an hour, names are called and the winner will get discounted tickets - again, generally around $30.

The tricky thing about rushing or lotteries is the fact that policies and chances of getting tickets tend to change depending on the show, day, or time of year. While some information is offered on individual show’s official websites, the best thing you can do is do some research. The general rule of thumb is to remember that the more popular the show, the earlier to wait on line. The less in demand the tickets, the better chances of winning the lottery. There’s no concrete way to keep track, but when it doubt, check the policies online! Also, shows tend to have less people willing to wait outside in the cold, so if you’re willing to brave the winter weather, odds are you’ll be rewarded with some tickets.

 

2) TodayTix

Okay y'all, this app is actually the love of my life. The basic premise of the app is to offer discounted tickets anywhere from a week to a day before the show. Sometimes even an hour. You can choose from a long list of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, plays and musicals, and it is extremely convenient. Once you pick the particular performance you are interested in seeing, you pick the section you’d like to sit in - orchestra, mezzanine, or balcony, and prices vary depending on location - and you are responsible for picking up your ticket outside the theater about half an hour before the show. Employees make this process incredibly easy. You find the person with a bright red shirt, sign your name, and your tickets are handed to you. This option is best for anyone with a busy schedule who wants to make quick plans to see a show. The number of shows available on TodayTix is often plentiful, and sometimes they participate in online lotteries. Service fees aren’t too extreme, and best of all, there’s no way to forget your ticket at home.

3) Broadway Roulette

This choice is for those who are a little more flexible with their planning. For someone who loves to see as many shows as possible, no matter what it may be, this app makes for a great option. With Broadway Roulette you pay $45 no matter what and the system chooses what show you'll see. You can narrow down your choices in a couple of different ways. You can indicate your preference for musicals or plays, and you can also disqualify four shows that you may have seen already or do not want to see. Like I said, this is a better option for people with a wide range of interests for Broadway shows and want to expand their possibilities for which performance they will enjoy.

4) TKTS

Here’s another choice for someone who either wants to take their chances with shows or has some free time in their schedule later that day. There are three different locations for TKTS booths - Times Square, South Street Seaport, and Downtown Brooklyn. At each of these locations, you can get same day tickets for up to 50% off. Discounts range depending on show and day, and they are usually posted at the ticket booth. Listings can also be found on the Theater Development Fund website, as well as the TKTS app, which works similarly to TodayTix. The booth in Times Square tends to get crowded very quickly everyday (surprise!), so if you have the chance, check out the other locations and go in with an open mind of what show you want to see!

5) Emails

Fun fact: I am the Queen of Discount Emails. Among updates from school and notifications about new Twitter followers, I get endless emails from theaters, venues, and ticket vendors. If you’re willing to filter through your inbox for them, I highly recommend signing up for email subscriptions. Ticketmaster and Telecharge are obviously the top choices most people rely on, but I am also a big fan of Theater Mania. This website offers occasional discount codes of the popular shows playing on Broadway, which is a great option for people who want to plan ahead and buy tickets in advance for a little cheaper.

Good luck, my friends! Trust me, your bank account will thank you :)

Feminist, Broadway enthusiast, Leslie Knope admirer, and professional self-promoter. Thanks for reading!
 
Pronouns: She/her/hers
 

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