Broadway on a Budget: Cheap Tickets and Where to Find Them
Like so many others, I had certain rites of passage to check off my bucket list when I moved to New York City. (I don’t think I’ve mentioned I live here before, right? lol.)
The standard NYC checklist often contains the usual suspects: the Statue of Liberty; Times Square (the bane of my existence, it’s so gross); the Empire State Building; blah blah blah. You know the drill.
It can be expensive as hell to get it all done, but there are ways to cut costs (which I’ve touched on before). One way in particular — if you have the time, patience, and inclination — is all the different methods of scoring cheap Broadway and off-Broadway tickets. Or at least cheaper.
Shockingly, I managed to win two lottery tickets for $80 (normal tickets can run up to almost $400) for the Broadway show Gettin’ the Band Back Together. I had played so many lotteries that day, I had forgotten what shows I even applied for, never mind what they were about.
This one turned out to be one of the funniest shows I’ve seen — it was campy, kitschy fun, and had some incredibly talented performers. I also loved the set design: simple at times, and ridiculously elaborate at others!
What I loved the most was that I had no idea what this show was about, or if I would enjoy it. But I gave it a go, and I was so pleasantly surprised. I applied one day, and won the tickets the very next day.
Don’t restrict yourself to the trendiest shows out there. Try something different and less well-known. It’s usually cheaper, and you never know what you’ll end up falling in love with.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But Kelly, millions of people play these lotteries and line up for rush tickets every day. What are the chances of me ever winning? It’s pointless and futile. My life has no meaning!” Fear not, my funny little friend, for I have all the answers for you right here. Check out these ways to get cheap Broadway tickets:
- Rush tickets
- A TKTS Booth
- SRO Tickets
1. Lottery Tickets
This is one of the easier ways to score cheap Broadway tickets, though it’s all a game of chance. There are two types:
The lazier lottery, you can do this from the comfort of your own home, on your computer or phone. You simply go to the site of the show you want to see. If it has a lottery, you enter your name and email and cross your fingers for cheap Broadway tickets. It’s that simple.
The website Show-Score has a regularly updated list of all the shows with lotteries so that you never lose track. It also provides the prices of the lottery tickets, as well as open and closing times, so you can get your Broadway on.
This requires a little more legwork. You have to be at the theater around two hours before the show to physically put your name into the draw. The catch is that you also have to remain there to see if your name is called, and then collect your tickets in person. But it’s worth it to get Broadway tickets at a fraction of the price.
2. Rush Tickets
These guys are available the day of the show from the box office, often with hefty discounts. There might be drawbacks, such as a restricted view, meaning you may not be able to see the stage in its entirety. Or you might be under the mezzanine, commonly referred to as the overhang.
Last year, two friends and I got tickets to see Kinky Boots (my all-time favorite musical, hands down) for $90 per ticket. Sounds pricey, but with tickets normally costing up to $230, we counted our lucky stars.
We were told our tickets came with a restricted view, but when I say we were on the stage, I really mean it. Our seats were in the left box, which overlooks the stage at an intimate level. I could clearly see the spit coming out of Brendon Urie’s mouth as he sang. Yum. (Yes, I was lucky enough to see the show when Urie, of Panic! At the Disco fame, was starring in it. He’s also the love of my life, so that helps.)
Most box offices open at 10 a.m., but if the show is extremely popular, lines may start much earlier. If you know the show is in demand, plan accordingly and get there as early as possible to snag those tickets!
Hot tip: Go on a day where the weather is bad. Yeah, you might get soaked to the skin and develop pneumonia, but you’ll get bomb-ass tickets. It’s all about perspective.
3. Ticketing Apps
These apps simplify the entire process, offering tickets to dozens of shows in one handy place. You can go one lazier than entering digital lotteries on their respective websites by using TodayTix, which has conveniently collected a lot of the lotteries in one easy app. It also offers discounted and last-minute tickets.
Be careful though — ticketing apps can have hefty fees, and you’re never quite sure what seats you’re going to get until you arrive.
But it’s a small price to pay for the sheer convenience, right? Weigh your options carefully!
If you want to get your tickets in advance and avoid or reduce extra fees, check out SeatGeek. And every so often, you may even be lucky enough to score a Groupon for a Broadway show.
4. A TKTS Booth
This is a great option for cheap Broadway tickets if you have the time. The most well-known TKTS booth is in Times Square, just beneath those famous red steps, but there are also locations at South Street Seaport and the Lincoln Center.
This organization is run by the Theatre Development Fund, or TDF, and offers same-day-only, usually half-price tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway shows. You can check that day’s offers live on the TDF website. Sometimes tickets are available up to a half hour before the show. However, you should arrive as early as possible to prevent disappointment.
They don’t usually stock the biggest shows of the day, like Hamilton or The Book of Mormon, but there are so many other amazing options for a fraction of the price.
Be warned: The Times Square location is going to be busier, so consider your time constraints when choosing a location.
5. SRO Tickets
If you have no qualms about standing upright for two-plus hours, then standing-room-only tickets are available for many Broadway shows. Personally, I think this would take away from the experience for me, but never say never!
You can find a list of shows that offer cheap SRO tickets on the site Broadway for Broke People. The site has collected all the information you need about seeing each show on the cheap.
Final Musings on How to Get Cheap Broadway Tickets
Now you have the exhaustive and, heh, exhausted guide to getting cheap Broadway tickets. A lot of this stuff only makes sense if you live here, such as lining up hours for tickets or hanging around the box office.
When you’re on vacation, it’s harder to justify your time over money, but at least you know the options are there. Plus, if you don’t live in New York, there may also be ways to have shows come to you. I only have your best interests at heart, dear readers.