Most people visit the great white way in hope of seeing some incredible theatre. In my opinion and from what I see on social media posts, the vast majority of people pay for this frivolously without thought as to how to get cheaper, more economically friendly tickets!
I write this from my hotel room on 47th Street and 8th Avenue, on my second New York City trip (the first was the same time last year) I was asked by the gorgeous West End Wilma (Wilma blushes when reading this) to write this blog as a helpful guide to how to get the best tickets for Broadway shows, without compromising your bank balance.
Be prepared! There are COUNTLESS ticket deals and lotteries for each theatre/show and knowledge is key if you want to avoid hefty prices.
The vast majority of Broadway shows (at the moment) do ‘General Rush’ tickets. This is the equivalent of London’s ‘Day Seats’, which in muggle’s terms is the box office offering a select number of £20-£30 tickets if you get to the box office for its opening time of usually 10am. This involves an emotionally and physically draining queue from sometimes as early as 6am (tip, get a Starbucks and take an iPod). However in NYC we managed to get there at 8.00am earliest every day and managed to secure $35 (£25) tickets to most of the shows we saw. This, in my opinion is the best option if you want to secure tickets for a particular show as by 10.05am, you will know what you’re seeing on Broadway that night. Some of the rush tickets are specifically ‘Youth Rush’ tickets which usually means the rush tickets can only be bought if the person is between 16-35 (yes 35!). It will tell you on the website but bear this in mind as you don’t want to queue for hours only to find out at the last minute that you’re not eligable. Also, watch out for how many tickets can be bought per person. We made that mistake: going to separate theatres and realising as the clock hit 10.00am that one of us could only get one ticket per person at one of the shows (Finding Neverland). So we ended up missing out on tickets for that show that day simply because we weren’t prepared.
A popular option for theatre fans are the ticket lotteries that some shows do (Hamilton, Aladdin etc). This is something this country started to introduce with Legally Blonde and other shows soon followed suit, and means getting to the theatre around 2 hours before the show you would want to get tickets for and a young broadway hopeful (or usher as I’m sure he wouldn’t like to be known as) will be distributing slips for you to fill out, which are then put in a drum and the usher will pull out a number of lucky winners to the show that night or afternoon. As much of a fun option as this is, winning for the big shows like Hamilton and Aladdin can be very hard, there can be more than 500 people entering the lottery for one show of Hamilton at the moment, with about 20 winners. But it’s still a great option and I won great tickets to Aladdin last year from the lottery so it can be done!
With the advancement of technology of course, these lotteries have moved to an online option. Apps like ‘TodayTix’ have lotteries available for certain shows, which means you can apply online for tickets on the day of the show (Fun Home, Noises Off etc) this is great because you can enter it from your hotel room bed and still know you have a chance of scoring tickets for that show. I have to admit I was a sceptic of this method before this trip as it seems unfair that anyone can apply for it, when some poor soul has queued from 6am to get their hands of tickets and I thought there would be so many applying for each it would be hopeless. However we did actually win two awesome tickets to Fun Home from the ‘TodayTix’ app… So that shut me up! Some of the shows own websites run their own lotteries too (Kinky Boots, Matilda, Curious Incident… Etc.) and this seems a much more likely way to win tickets as it’s more effort to trawl through the website for a link to the lottery etc. However, this method does work too as I won tickets (to Matilda) from it, so it’s definitely worth a shot.
Alternatively you can go to the TKTS Booth in Times Square. (there is a much quieter one downtown at South Street Seaport I’d recommend as you avoid the ridiculous queue at the Times Square booth, do something fun down there to tie in your trip downtown!). At the TKTS booths, tickets are slashed in price usually around 50%, so if you’re running out of time to get tickets and don’t mind paying slightly more but still get a discounted great seat, get to the TKTS booth! Should you wish to know specific information on whether a show operates a lottery system or rush tickets check out the show’s website as the information will be on there for you.
I hope this has helped you in your quest for more affordable tickets and a better Broadway experience.
With thanks to Jordan Langford for this blog