How to Score Discount Tickets to Broadway Shows

Hedwig marquis

Everyone knows there’s nothing like seeing a show on Broadway. There’s a certain energy in those few blocks of Manhattan, a spark in the air that only exists on the stages of New York City. But, if you’re like most of us, how can you afford to go see a show when tickets can cost you upwards of $150 a piece?

After living in New York for several years, and being a musical theater gal both on and off the stage, I like to think I’ve learned a few tricks about snagging tickets to the great shows for a steal. There are several ways to do it and here’s how:

1) LOTTERIES: This is by far the best way to see some of the hottest shows on Broadway without breaking the bank. Copy and paste this link and then set it to your favorites: http://www.playbill.com/celebritybuzz/article/broadway-rush-lottery-and-standing-room-only-policies. This link is updated monthly as shows are changed out, but for the most part, several very popular shows are holding lotteries and have been for years. This method has somehow gone under the radar, but I think the best things in life are shared! So here’s how it works. After you figure out which lottery show you’d like to try your luck at, (and I mean LUCK), you head to the theater of the show you’ve chosen. If the show is at 8pm, the lottery will usually be drawn at 6pm. At the theater, there will be a friendly staff member out front under the marquis, usually with a loudspeaker, a stack of cards & boxes of pencils. Just fill out the card with your name and how many tickets you’d like, either 1 or 2 (that’s all you need, folks – email & phone number are not required). Going with a group of friends is best, because the more names your group has in the bucket, the better your chances of snagging tickets. Most shows have about 24 lottery tickets per show, but it depends on the show and the night. Seats can be orchestra, balcony, box seats, partial view, or if you’re lucky (and we have been a few times), even front row!

BoM

WINNER – We finally won the Book of Mormon lottery after 12 tries!

You must get your cards in the drawing bucket on time (usually 2 hours prior to curtain) & you must be present by the time the lottery is to be called, and most theaters are very strict about that time. The friendly staff member will draw names and give happy theatergoers the chance to buy tickets for great seats at hot shows for usually around $35!

DSC07457

WINNER – Finally won the Book of Mormon lottery after 12 tries!

If and when you win, you should scream with excitement, so people know you’re jazzed to see the show! But, if you win, be sure to keep quiet when you get to your seats because your neighbors have probably paid three times what you’ve paid for their tickets! Tickets can be paid with credit, debit cards & cash.
(NOTE: At time of this blog post, in-person lottery shows are: Aladdin, Book of Mormon, Hamilton (just $10 – Hamilton for a Hamilton!), Spring Awakening and Wicked).

Times Sq

TKTS Booth – Times Square

2) TKTS: TKTS booths have been the standard way to get cheap theater tickets for years. The red kiosks in Times Square, Brooklyn & South Street Seaport offer discounted tickets for day of show and next-day matinee shows. Times Square is the most popular location (often having long lines), so try your luck at the Seaport or Downtown Brooklyn locations. Discounts are usually between 30-50% full ticket price. Times Square location offers a PLAY ONLY line (line #12) and a 7-day Fast Pass line on #1. If you purchase tickets at TKTS and return to buy more tickets within 7-days, you get a fast pass to the front of the line! See more details and current show listings here: https://www.tdf.org/

3) TODAY TIX: This relatively new app lets you purchase discount theater tickets right from your smartphone. It’s so convenient, I’ve even purchased show tickets just a couple of hours before curtain. The app lists current discount ticket shows. Once you create an account, you can purchase tickets right from your phone. All you need to do to get your tickets is meet a friendly TODAY TIX staff member out in front of the theater (time will be indicated upon purchase via your smartphone) wearing a bright red TODAY TIX jacket or T-shirt and you give them your name and they will hand you an envelope with your tickets inside. The only drawback I see with this method is that you don’t get to choose your exact seats, only seating level (orchestra, mezzanine, etc.) You can also enter several online lotteries via Today Tix.
(Note: At the time of this post, Today Tix is running online lotteries for: Fun Home, Eclipsed, Thérèse Raquin, Old Times, and The Humans).

Friendly Today Tix staff. Photo credit: Today Tix.

4) BROADWAY BOX / PLAYBILL / THEATERMANIA : These online sites offer discount codes for show tickets that can be purchased online. See each site for specific discount shows & codes. This is often a better way to purchase tickets for a specific future date, say when you have out-of-town guests coming to visit and they want to be sure they have tickets to see a show, versus taking their chances on a lottery show. All are free to join.
www.broadwaybox.com
www.playbill.com
www.theatermania.com

5) ONLINE LOTTERIES: The latest way to get discount tickets is through an online or digital lottery. New shows are trying out the virtual lottery route. Since it is much easier and more convenient for people to enter a lottery from their phone or computer, I have found online lottery shows nearly impossible to win. However, after entering the Fun Home lottery at least 20 times, I actually won last week! Dad and I had a blast at Fun Home! What an absolutely incredible show.

funhome

We finally won the Fun Home lottery!

Since the demand for online lotteries is so high and it is so easy to enter, your chances of winning are very low.  An updated list of online lotteries can be found at: http://www.playbill.com/celebritybuzz/article/broadway-rush-lottery-and-standing-room-only-policies . Entry is either via Today Tix app or a link provided in the current Playbill listing.
Online lotteries include: Fun Home, Something Rotten, Kinky Boots, Matilda, Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. Best to do an internet search for exact links.

So there you have it! There are many ways to try your luck at Broadway show tickets for a steal. Take this info and run! Good luck and enjoy the show!

About Heather

Heather and Erik set off on a round-the-world trip in April, 2010, travelling overland through Central and South America before getting engaged in Antarctica. In 2011-2012 they tackled Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

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