If you have time and flexibility in your schedule there are some fantastic deals that can be had for tickets. Most theaters provide some kind of discounted tickets based on availability. Typically these options only apply to same day ticket sales and are generally limited in quantity and will require spending some time standing in a line and there’s no guarantee that you will get a ticket. That being said if you really want to see a show but don’t want to fork over the $$$ these are you primary options.
I believe it was the producers of Rent, in 1996, that first instituted the student rush ticket policy. They set aside the first two rows in the theater and sold them on a first come basis the day of the performance for $20. I guess the irony of putting on a show about impoverished artists that impoverished artists couldn’t afford was too much for them.
There are typically two types of rush tickets, student and general. General tickets are open to the general public and student tickets require a valid student ID. The tickets go on sale as soon as the box office opens but the lines can start up to two hours before the box office opens. Typically you’re going to be limited to one or two tickets per person and will probably have to pay cash. Ticket costs will vary from production to production but range from $25-40.
Lottery tickets are slightly different than the rush tickets. These tickets are distributed 2 hours before the curtain time. To enter the lottery submit your name to the box office 2 1/2 hours before the curtain, at the 2 hour mark the names will be drawn to see who gets tickets, you must be present to win. Your limited to two tickets per person and again may have to pay in cash. Like the rush tickets it is likely that you will spend some time waiting in line.
SRO or Standing Room Only tickets are only going to be available if the show is actually sold out. These will be designated spaces behind the last row of the orchestra and yes, you have to stand. On the up side you’ll have a nice head start for the toilets at intermission.
Follow the link below to see the current ticket policies for the major shows. As always double check with the theater box office because policies may change without notice.
Some hints for using the TKTS booth include:
- Prepare for a wait, I like to get a Starbucks and have some thing to read.
- Bring a ‘buddy’ in case you need to take potty break.
- Have an idea of what you want to see, there are a lot of shows out there.
- Check out the marquee to see what’s available and what the discounts are.
If you have an iPhone or smart phone, there’s an app for that. The one I down loaded tells me what’s playing and the % discount. I have not had the opportunity to verify this.
- Select a show but prepare a couple of back-ups just in case it sells out by the time you get to the window that way you don’t gum things up for the people behind you. It’s only polite.
- Once you get up towards the windows listen to the line “wranglers” they’re there to keep things moving. Once you get up tot he windows it’s a little chaotic so pay attention. And the wranglers are not being rude they’re just aware of the “front of the queue deafness syndrome”.
- You don’t get a choice in seat selections.
- There is a $4 per ticket fee.
- Once you have your tickets you just have to wend and elbow your way out of the crowd. Liberal use of “excuse me,” “pardon me,” excuse me” is highly recommended since people don’t see to know to make hole without verbal and some times physical prodding.
- Certain shows such as Wicked or Lion King will NOT be on sale at the booth. If a show is hot and selling out it wont be at the booth. Don’t ask.
There are two other satellite locations where you can get tickets; there’s a both at the Southside Seaport and downtown Brooklyn. Hit the link below for additional info.
If perchance you would like to get discount tickets without standing in a line with the sometimes washed masses there is another option; join the Playbill Club. It free to do and it will give you access to a fare number of pretty good discount tickets, rarely 50% but you can get orchestra seating for $70-90 dollars a good $50-60 dollars savings per ticket. Ticket handling charges apply just like regular priced ticket sales. There will be restrictions such as a range of dates or specific days of the week but you can buy these tickets in advance from your home computer and have time to plan your trip accordingly. The link below will take you to the current list of discount shows available, you can view them but you must join to be able to buy. I’ve signed up for email notifications that way I can jump on the good deals for shows I really want to see.
If you don’t see the show that you want on Playbill another good location to check is atBroadway Box. This takes you through the same Broadway Offers web site but it sometimes has shows that aren’t posted on Playbill.