How to See All of Broadway's Best For a Fraction of the Price
Ready to go on a theater-filled journey? I know, I know — Broadway tickets are so expensive, right? Well, not if you know what you're doing. I'll be the first to admit that it's easier to see Broadway shows for a lower price if you live in New York and aren't pressed for time like a tourist with only one weekend here. However, with a little research and planning, you can totally score tickets for the Great White Way's biggest hits. (Except Hamilton. If you aren't rich or famous, you aren't seeing Hamilton any time soon.)
There are a handful of ways to find tickets for less than asking price if you do a little work. Here's a short breakdown of the basic options:
- Lottery: Many Broadway shows offer a ticket lottery. While most theaters used to hold the lotteries in person before showtime, all but three have been moved to being completely digital. (All Book of Mormon shows, all Wicked shows, and Hamilton's Wednesday matinees are the only shows with in-person lotteries still.) What this means is that on the day of a show, you can go to a specific site and enter your information into a drawing. Most theaters don't know until right before the drawing how many tickets they will be able to offer. Sometimes it's 10, sometimes it's 30. If your name is drawn, you'll receive an email with information on how to purchase your discounted ticket either online or at the box office. In-person lotteries for The Book of Mormon, Wicked, and Hamilton are in front of the theaters two and a half hours before curtain. While the live lotteries are fun, digital lotteries prove to be much easier to enter. Lottery tickets can put you anywhere in the theater — I've sat way off to the side with an obstructed view and I've also sat in the front row practically catching Gavin Creel's sweat in my lap during The Book of Mormon. (Don't worry, that's a good thing.)
- Rush: Rush tickets can be purchased at the box office the morning of the show for a discounted price. They aren't always available, they might have obstructed views, and you have to go first thing in the morning (10 a.m. on weekdays, 12 p.m. on Sundays), but they're highly discounted tickets.
- Today Tix app: The Today Tix app is a concierge ticketing service that sells discounted tickets for shows up to a week in advance. The app also offers its own exclusive lotteries to some shows. Better yet, the app sometimes holds fun deals and contests, like this past Easter there was an Easter egg hunt on the site for coupon codes. That's how I was finally able to see Fun Home — for free!
- TKTS booth: Across the street from the giant Olive Garden in Times Square, there's a large set of bleachers. Underneath there is the TKTS booth. Here you can find discounted tickets for the day's shows. There are large LED signs showing what shows are available and for how much of a discount, but the signs will not tell you what the prices are, just what the percent off is. If you go this route, have a couple shows in mind when you step up to the window and try not to spend too long hemming and hawing over which show to see. Unlike the box offices, you don't get to pick price ranges and seats. You pick the show, they tell you the price, you purchase or walk away. The line is also often long, and the prices can change based on availability between the time you arrive at the line and the time you get to the window. That's why it's a good idea to have options, just in case your original choice doesn't work out. There's also a TKTS booth in Brooklyn and one in lower Manhattan at the South Street Seaport, in case you happen to be in those areas.
- Other discount sites: There are sites and clubs you can join to get discounted tickets, and some are even free. One option is Theater Mania, which costs $11 per month and can be canceled any time. I joined this for one month to try it out and found that none of the shows that came up were anything I wanted to see. None of them were even Broadway shows at all, actually.
However, the stock of tickets is always changing, so you might have better luck than me. If you're between the ages of 18 and 35, you can join the Roundabout Theatre Company's site and have access to $25 Hiptix for its shows. That's how I was able to see Tony-winner She Loves Me so cheaply. The Manhattan Theatre Club offers a free 30 Under 30 club for people who are, you guessed it, under 30 years old. By joining — for free — you have access to purchase $30 tickets for the club's shows.
The last club for young people to join that I'm aware of is LincTix through Lincoln Center Theater. Free membership for people ages 21 to 35 offers you the chance to purchase tickets for $32 for Lincoln Center's Broadway and Off Broadway shows. Beyond these sites that offer memberships, a quick Google search for "Broadway discount" or "Broadway coupon codes" might yield some results. I literally never purchase anything anymore without first searching for a coupon. (Living in Manhattan makes one thrifty.)
So now you have the basic outline for how to get cheaper tickets, but because I love the theater so much and want everyone to take full advantage of all it has to offer, I've provided a further show-by-show breakdown of all the lotteries, rush policies, and show information in the following gallery. In the past year living in New York, I've been to 23 shows and only spent more than $40 on a ticket less than five times. If you follow my guide, you can see all the Broadway shows just like me! Except Hamilton. We can't afford to see Hamilton.