This post was updated in May 2017 to reflect some new tips/tricks I learned during my recent trip to NYC.
Y’all I can’t even believe that at this time next week, I will be on my way to NYC!! (The greatest city in the world…who else starting singing, Hamilton?). One of my biggest hobbies (besides SGSB) is following the Broadway scene. Ever since I saw Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats on VHS for the first time when I was 8 years old, I became a Broadway groupie. (I don’t think my Mom ever wants to hear the music from Cats again, because I watched it multiple times a week for almost 6 months – Sorry, Mom).
Over the past 8 or 9 years, I have followed the news from The Great White Way and have tried to make it to NYC to see some of the most buzzed about shows each year and in my lifetime, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to see over 75 Broadway shows in NYC, London and in Houston and am so excited to be adding another 4 or 5 during my trip there next week. Seeing live theater can be extremely damaging to my wallet, so I have found a couple of ways to buy discounted Broadway tickets and save some money while seeing the shows I have dreamed about seeing.
So before we jump into the tips, let’s level set – for some of the most popular shows on Broadway right now (read: Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Book of Mormon), these tips may not work and if you would like to see the show, you will most likely have to pay full price to see them. For both Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, I paid full price to see the Original Broadway Casts (OBC). It’s a supply and demand thing – if they tickets are super hot, the discounts are not needed. For a lot of the other shows on Broadway, including many of the popular ones, you should be able to use these tips to help you save a bit of moolah while enjoying the theater.
10 Tips to Buy Discounted Broadway Tickets
1. Sign up for the show’s newsletter
On most of the show’s websites, they have an opportunity for visitors to sign up for a newsletter or updates on the show. It is best to sign up for these newsletters as soon as you hear about a show you are interested in seeing. It’s even better if you can sign up before the show has opened in previews because it often doesn’t have reviews about the show itself (there are probably reviews about the lead actor/actress, especially if they are notable, but reviews about the production can’t be produced until previews start). Once you sign up for the emails, you may receive deals to sign up to see the show. Recently, I received emails from Amelie (which features Hamilton star, Phillipa Soo) to see the show at a discounted rate for both previews and after opening night (although the preview tickets were slightly cheaper).
I should probably back up – so, what are previews anyways? Previews are the time for the cast, crew and creative team the opportunity to “preview” the show on the stage with the entire cast, crew and orchestra and to work out any “kinks” before the official evaluation for the TONY Awards (i.e. The Oscars for Broadway) can begin. The tickets are usually very similarly priced to the tickets you will find after the show has officially opened and the quality of the show should be the same standard – usually there are only very minor differences in the shows during previews and after opening night. Most of the time, you won’t be able to see these changes if you saw both types of shows.
How to get tickets: Online
2. Enter the show’s lottery
I have never had any luck with this option before, but there are some great deals if you happen to win the lottery. There are multiple ways to enter and each show handles their lotteries differently. Most of the time, I have seen lottery tickets being less than $50 per ticket.
Lotteries are either digital or they are in person. If they are in person, you must go to the box office to put your name in to win the chance to buy the tickets. I think in person lotteries are starting to fade away and most shows are moving to the digital lottery (I believe this is another thing we have to thank Hamilton for – they still offer $10 lottery tickets for the front row).
For digital lotteries, you must log in daily to the website to enter your name, email address and other info to win tickets. You will be notified via email a couple of hours prior to the show and you must log back into the site within a certain period of time to purchase the tickets for the show that night (or afternoon, if it’s a matinee). Make sure to check the show’s website, it will give you all the information related to the lottery (time the lottery starts, time you must claim the tickets, where the lottery takes place, how to pay – some are cash only, how many you can purchase).
How to get tickets: In person or online
3. Buy a rush ticket
The day of the show, you can purchase a discounted ticket (if they are available) from the show’s box office. Tickets may be located all over the theater and you really don’t have much say in where you will be sitting, but most tickets are under $50. And, in my opinion, the NYC theaters are typically smaller (they are definitely smaller than the Hobby Center, here in Houston) and there often is not a bad seat in the house.
If you are interested in rush tickets, be sure to check out the ticket section of the show’s website to see what the price and restrictions are. For example, if you wanted to do rush tickets to Come from Away, a musical that opened on Sunday night, you can buy up to two tickets for $38 each. My recommendation is to be in line at the theater box office at least 30 minutes to an hour before the box office opens to have a chance of getting a rush ticket, especially if you are trying to get tickets to a more popular show or are going during a busy travel season (i.e. Spring Break, Thanksgiving through New Year’s).
How to get tickets: In person
4. Buy a standing room only (SRO) ticket
Some theaters offer Standing Room Only tickets for their shows. Typically the “seats” are located in the back of the Orchestra or Mezzanine sections and are often a steal. You will have to stand the whole time, so I definitely recommend wearing some stable and comfortable shoes, but I personally think it was well worth the experience.
When I saw Fun Home a year ago, I bought SRO tickets for $35. I was able to lean up against a bar and there was a wall behind us that I was able to lean up against for a bit. Honestly, I was nervous about the whole experience, but it was a great way to see a show I was hoping to catch while in NYC while staying within my budget.
Important Note: To buy the SRO tickets, you must buy them the day of the show from the box office at the theater. Also, the ticket sections on the shows’ websites often don’t tell you if they have SRO tickets. Your best bet is to call the theater to ask or stop by if you are in the area. In my experience, I was able to get my SRO tickets about an hour prior to showtime.
How to get tickets: In person
5. TodayTix App
This app is usually one of my first stops when I am physically in NYC to buy discounted Broadway tickets (I use the email lists and some of the other tips before I go to buy tickets to the shows I absolutely must see, but then wait to buy tickets to a few shows until I get to the city). The TodayTix app will allow you to buy discounted tickets to most shows on Broadway. The catch is that you don’t get to choose your exact seats – you choose your section. Then, a concierge from TodayTix wearing a red company polo or jacket (usually a fellow theater lover and/or non-casted actor/actresses) will meet you outside the theater starting 30 minutes prior to showtime.
I have used this for so many shows – The Color Purple, Waitress, Spring Awakening…and have always had really great seats for the section I chose on the app. And I was usually able to save about 30% off the full price of the ticket. They also host some lotteries (see tip #2) and have some giveaways on the app, so be on the lookout.
If you use my link (any hyperlink in this section) to sign up with TodayTix, you can save $10 off your first purchase! (Full disclosure, I will receive a small credit to the TodayTix app if you sign up using the code/link and make a purchase. This is an app I have used to purchase tickets from multiple times over the past two years and have had a great experience with it. )
How to get tickets: Mobile App
6. TKTS Booth
So, I think besides SRO and Rush tickets, which were not common options among most shows until recently, TKTS was the place to go to get discounted tickets. In NYC, they have three booths. I typically go to the one in Times Square (between 46th and 47th on Broadway – it’s underneath the stairs in Time Square that are extremely popular for taking pictures on because you get a great view of all the billboards) because it’s so close to the theaters. TKTS posts the percentage off of the shows they have tickets for on the boards outside the booth and on their mobile app. I personally love to use the mobile app to see if the shows I have been watching are available.
When you get to the booth, you will most likely have to wait a bit in the lines. Make sure to watch the boards to see if the show you were interested in has sold out at TKTS. The TKTS staff will tell you when you get there, but have 2 or 3 options in your mind of shows you want to see because sometimes shows sell out while you are in line. You will typically get 30-40% off your ticket using the booth.
On my last couple of trips, I have purchased a few different tickets from the TKTS booth and have loved my tickets (I sat in the 5th row, center orchestra for An Act of God last summer with Jim Parsons – so amazing). But, I’ll be honest, I have stopped waiting hours in the TKTS line. I will either show up to the booth after the line has died down a bit to buy a super last minute ticket or I will pay a little bit more (usually $20-40) to get tickets through a different method and be able to have the time to explore the city more.
Here’s my biggest tip for TKTS, make sure you are standing in the correct line, especially if you want to see a play. They designate one side of the booth exclusively for those trying to get tickets to plays and you CANNOT buy musical tickets on that side. Although, the last time I was there, you were able to buy play tickets in the musical line. Another thing to note about TKTS, they do not offer discounts on the Disney Broadway productions (i.e. Lion King, Aladdin).
How to get tickets: In person
7. Student Tickets
If you are are student, some theaters offer a significantly discounted ticket. You must show a valid student ID at the Box Office of the theater and the number of tickets you can purchase are often limited to one per ID. I have heard some rumors that a lot of shows are starting to eliminate this option for tickets because there are so many other ways to get tickets.
How to get tickets: In person
8. Goldstar App/Website
Goldstar offers discounts to events and shows across the country, including Broadway shows. I use them in Houston to go to some theater productions that I otherwise may not have been able to experience. Before I left for my latest trip to NYC, I used Goldstar to get tickets to see the show, In Transit. Using their website is super simple, you find the show that you want to see and then choose which section of the theater you would like to sit in. On the day of your show, you pick up your tickets at Will Call.
In order to be able to get a discount on the ticket, you don’t get to choose the exact seat that you will be sitting in, but let me tell y’all, I was completely blown away at the seat that I was given for In Transit. For less than half of what the ticket would have cost, I was sitting in one of the best seats in the theater. I know that it can vary by the date, time and production you are hoping to get tickets for, but given the discount, it is totally worth it to me! Another great perk about Goldstar is that they sent me two reminders about my show – one a few days before and one the morning of the performance. No more scrambling to make it to the show because I was prepared to be there!
How to get tickets: Online or through the app
Note: Thank you to Goldstar for partnering with Something Gold, Something Blue to provide me the opportunity to experience your platform and see In Transit while I was in NYC.
9. Sign up for other Broadway related sites newsletters
Another way that I hear about discounts on tickets is through Broadway-related websites, like Playbill.com, Theater Mania and Broadway.com. Theater Mania may be my favorite because they send a weekly email with all of the discounted shows that you can buy tickets to. So, if I had to choose one – sign up for the Theater Mania newsletter!
Also, all of these resources are great to learn about the shows and get some behind the scene looks at the cast/crew/creative teams.
How to get tickets: Online
10. See an Off-Broadway Show
One of the biggest regrets of mine was not seeing Hamilton at the Public Theater before it moved to Broadway. My Mom and I were in the city to see the TONY awards and we kept seeing/hearing about this show called, Hamilton, but we had a packed theater schedule and would not be able to squeeze in another show. So moral of the story and lesson I learned the hard way (side note: this is now why I only buy a few tickets before getting to NYC), don’t write off a show because it’s not in the Times Square area/officially on Broadway.
There are so many shows that are on the brink of coming to Broadway and they are amazing – sometimes they are even better Off-Broadway because the creative team has a lot more flexibility in what they can and can’t do. If you are looking for these tickets online, you can search for Off-Broadway or Downtown shows. They are always a lot cheaper than Broadway tickets.
Cost: $- $$$
How to get tickets: In person or online
Another great resource is BroadwayforBrokePeople.com! They have a grid which summarizes the cheapest ticket options for each show, the show times and it will show you if a Broadway show is going to be closing soon. If you interested in Lottery/Rush seat options, this site will definitely be helpful in summarizing your options!
I would also recommend checking out the cancellation line for certain shows. This is a trick used by a lot of people to see the popular shows on Broadway. I know that people would start lining up for the Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen cancellation line at like 4AM prior to the 7 or 8PM show in the evening.
One last tip – plan to see shows in smaller groups or be OK with sitting in smaller groups. You will definitely be able to get better tickets this way. Overall, I think you have to find what method works the best for you! I hope that you found these tips helpful and you are able to enjoy the theater while saving a bit of cash! Please let me know if you have any questions about these tips – I did my best to do a brain dump, but if I left a crucial piece of info out, please leave a comment or send me an email!!
What shows are you looking forward to seeing on Broadway? Do you have any other Broadway-related questions? I am thinking about starting a series about my love of theater and would love to hear about what y’all are interested in reading about!