Broadway on a Budget: How to get discounted show tickets
When visiting New York, many enjoy seeing one of the city’s unique features: a Broadway Show. Buying a $130 ticket, however, may be out of many American’s price range. Fortunately, it is possible to utilize some of New York’s best kept secrets for finding discounted tickets, especially as a student.
Students are eligible to register for membership with the Theatre Development Fund to access discounted tickets. TKTS, a program run by the Theatre Development Fund, a not-for-profit organization, offers tickets for up to 50 percent off for the general public. With a TDF membership, students are offered an even greater discount.
David LeShay, Director of Communications at Theatre Development Fund, said students who do not live in the Tri-state area can purchase a national membership for $12 per year. Students from within the area can join for $30 per year.
After joining, students can attend a Broadway, off-Broadway, or off-off Broadway show for anywhere between $9 and $41 per ticket. Students who are interested in signing up for a TDF membership can visit www.tdf.org/application. TKTS usually has tickets for most shows with the exceptions of “Wicked,” “Lion King” and “The Book of Mormon.”
For those who would rather wait in line at one of the TKTS booths instead of purchasing a student membership, LeShay recommended arriving to the booth an hour and a half after opening. TKTS also offers an Apple app for consumers to see in real time which shows are available before making the trip to the booth.
“(The lines) are longest when we open for sale,” he said. “If you go there at 4:30 or 5:00 p.m., there’s usually little to no line, or if you go an hour before curtain, you can walk right up to the window.”
TKTS has three different locations for purchasing tickets. Because tourists do not usually visit the South Street Seaport and the Downtown Brooklyn booths, those two locations typically have shorter lines than the location in Times Square.
Another way to earn a discount is to find online promotional codes, which can be used for instant savings. These codes can be found through websites such as Playbill.com and TheatreMania.com.
Blake Ross, Editor in Chief of “Playbill Magazine,” said patrons must sign up through the Playbill website to receive the promo codes, but registration is free.
“Every day we give you a different discount,” Ross said. “It depends on the show. It could be anywhere from 20 to 50 percent off.”
Another way to find cheaper tickets is to try your luck. Lottery and rush tickets are an option available for certain shows. These tickets are significantly cheaper, and some shows offer a student rush, which requires a valid student ID for eligibility.
“Each show has their own specific rules and regulations regarding (rush and lottery) discounted tickets,” Ross said. “They are cheap tickets—usually cash only—and you can get them anywhere from $25 to $40, and you buy them the day of the show. Usually they are pretty good seats.”
She said the best time to attempt winning a lottery or rush ticket is during the week or when the weather is poor. In order to participate in the drawing, most shows require you to arrive two hours before curtain. For a complete list of rush and lottery rules, visit http://www.playbill.com/celebritybuzz/article/82428-Broadway-Rush-Lotter....
Ross also suggested using social media to take advantage of special discounts.
“The newer shows have really active Facebook and Twitter accounts,” she said. “Keep up with the shows you like, because they often will tweet different discount codes or free ticket contests.”
When weighing in on which discount option is best for you, time is often a factor in addition to the money. However, time aside, the rush or lottery system is the most affordable option. For example, consider the show “Clybourne Park,” which was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and 2012 Tony Award for Best Play. Here’s a breakdown of how much you would spend, depending on which route you choose. All prices have been adjusted to include the service and handling charges.
(1) General Rush- $30
(2) TDF Membership - $41 for the ticket plus the annual membership of either $12 or $30
(3) Playbill advance discount - $99.25
(4) TKTS - $68.50
(5) Full price Telecharge - $137.25
There are several different legal ways to avoid paying for a full-price ticket. However, beware of scalped tickets. Scalpers lurk around Times Square to trap tourists, Ross said. She recommended looking for some kind of branding on the person selling the ticket to make sure what you are buying is legitimate.
“There are tons of street teams that are handing flyers out for different shows,” she said. “They usually have poster boards or costumes, and they’ll have branded information that’s directly related to the shows. Those people are totally legit, but they usually aren’t asking for money or cash up front. They usually have a flyer to give you to get you to the box office.”
LeShay said that college students who have never seen a Broadway show should take advantage of their time in New York by going to at least one.
“If you are in New York City, how could you not go see a Broadway Show?” LeShay said. “It’s one of the greatest art forms we have. You owe it to yourself. I guarantee if you go once, you’ll be hooked for life.”