Last night, I had one of Broadway’s hottest tickets in my hot little hands. I finally saw the show I’ve been looking forward to since before Covid shut down the world — The Music Man with Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. And the night before, I treated myself to a Valentine’s Day date with the Queens of Six, another one of Broadway’s biggest shows. Both of these shows absolutely lived up to the hype, 10/10 recommend.
The best part is that I scored my tickets for a fraction of what I expected to pay. How did I manage that? Well, that’s exactly why I’ve gathered you all here today…I want to share some tips and tricks I’ve picked up to maximize your Broadway experience and budget. It’s how I was able to see more than 50 shows in the year I lived in NYC prior to Covid.
My biggest tip is to download the TodayTix app. Seriously, do it right now. A free app that’s super easy to use, it includes Broadway, off-Broadway and other local shows. For the majority of the shows, you select your seat based on the general section and price. You don’t get to select your individual seat, you receive that info when you get your actual ticket. Since Covid, most of the tickets are delivered via email the day of the show, as opposed to having to pick them up from a TodayTix staffer right before the show.
TodayTix, which you can also use online without the app, also runs promotions, such as waiving fees for certain shows or holding Black Friday sales. I hit the Black Friday sale hard and am still reaping the benefits.
Other than not being able to make a specific seat selection, the only other downside is that the app doesn’t have tickets to every single show running. But if there’s a show listed that doesn’t currently have tickets available, you can set an alert to be notified when they become available. That’s exactly how I got my ticket for The Music Man. Tickets for the big-name shows can sell out quickly, so getting an alert helps keep you from missing out. No FOMO here.
You clearly have to be careful when purchasing tickets from anyone other than the official seller, which is either Ticketmaster or Telecharge for pretty much all Broadway and off-Broadway theaters. I’ve personally had good luck with TodayTix, never experiencing any issues. When shows have been cancelled due to Covid, I’ve received a credit to use for another ticket.
Roll the Dice
If you’re looking to save some money but have your heart set on a specific show and don’t want to leave it up to chance, TodayTix is probably your best bet. If you’re willing to take a risk, you can also try ticket lotteries, rush tickets or standing-room only tickets for the show you’ve got your eye on. There’s obviously a serious chance you won’t get the exact ticket your heart desires, but the bargain pricing definitely eases the blow. And you can always play the numbers game, entering multiple ticket lotteries at once. For someone just looking to see a show on Broadway and doesn’t mind being surprised, this is a phenomenal option.
To enter a ticket lottery, it’s as easy as tossing your name in the proverbial hat. And if your name is pulled, you have the opportunity to purchase a ticket (usually up to 2) for a steal. A few years ago, I won a front row ticket to Choir Boy for about $20. And my Valentine’s Day front row seat to Six cost just $30. You literally cannot beat these deals. Now for the info you’re all really waiting for, here’s where you go to enter:
TodayTix administers the digital ticket lotteries for:
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Plaza Suite
Lucky Seat administers the digital ticket lotteries for:
- Moulin Rouge
- The Book of Mormon
Broadway Direct administers the digital ticket lotteries for:
- The Lion King
- Tina — The Tina Turner Musical
The following shows operate their own digital ticket lotteries:
Rush tickets originated with Rent, which as the story goes, sold the first two rows of tickets for $20 each to fans who arrived at the box office in time on the day of the show. The following shows currently offer rush tickets at their box offices on a first-come, first-served basis:
- Chicago — Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St. (between Broadway and 8th Ave.)
- Come From Away — Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St. (between 7th and 8th Aves.)
- Company — Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St. (between 7th and 8th Aves.)
- Dear Evan Hansen — Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St. (between 7th and 8th Aves.)
- The Music Man — Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway (at W. 50th St.)
Policies change, so I’d suggest calling the box office of the show you’re hoping to see.
Standing-Room Only Tickets
The following shows sell standing-room only tickets, typically after a performance is sold out:
- The Phantom of the Opera
Again, things change all the time, so I’d recommend calling the box office before showing up.
If you’re really looking to be spontaneous, check out the TKTS booth and website/app. The booth, located in Times Square at Broadway and 47th St., sells discounted tickets for that day and the next day matinée. Most shows have one dark day a week, evening performances on the other days, and matinée performances on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Obviously, this varies, so check the schedule for the specific show you’re interesting in seeing.
You can use the TKTS website or app to see what the booth has available that day — just hurry if you see something you like, as they could be gone before your arrive. The booth opens at 3 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. TKTS is run by TDF (Theater Development Fund).
After a two-year hiatus because of Covid, Broadway Week returned this year. Despite its name, Broadway Week happens twice a year and lasts for almost a month. Lots of shows participate, offering 2-for-1 promotions. Especially exciting for large families or groups traveling in odd numbers, as long as you buy at least two tickets, all of your tickets will be 50% off the full price. As a party of one, though, I haven’t personally taken part in the Broadway Week deals.
Notes on Theater Seating
With the exception of Wicked and The Lion King (two of my all-time favorite musicals, BTW), most shows are in very small theaters. This means there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. These theaters are also mostly older buildings and rarely have elevators, so be prepared to climb some stairs if you’re up on the Mezzanine or Balcony levels. The seats are also pretty tight, so expect to get cozy with your neighbors.
Best Time to Buy
Obviously the earlier you purchase your tickets, the less you have to worry about the show being sold out. You’ll also typically have less competition for the lotteries and rush tickets on weekdays.
With Covid, all theaters require that everyone shows proof of vaccination and a valid photo ID to enter. Most theaters aren’t selling food or drink items during this time either, as your mask must stay in place during the entire performance. And staff is quite strict on not allowing photos, so don’t count on snapping any during the performance. Don’t be late to the show. Some shows will not seat late arrivals until intermission, and either way, you don’t want to miss any of the magic.
This is Where I Leave You
These tips and tricks have really come in handy as I’ve navigated Broadway. I hope you’ll be able to use some of these resources to get even more bang for your buck…whether you live in NYC and want to explore more theater, or if you’re visiting the city for the first time. Enjoy the show!