By Kate Arnold
If you love theatre as much as I do (which is A LOT), then you’ll know that going to shows isn’t cheap. I went to New York last year and I was determined to see as many shows as I could on (and Off) Broadway but I was on a serious budget. Here’s how I saved money on Broadway tickets and a few other methods as well.
The TKTS Booth is in Times Square and you can buy rush tickets for select shows that same day. You won’t find tickets for Hamilton or The Lion King but there are always great deals on great shows. Laura and I got our Anastasia tickets through this method and saved around 40%. You can get up to 50% off shows but there’s no way to know which shows will have tickets available until the day of. Theatres give the booth the tickets that they haven’t sold yet so that the shows are more likely to sell out. This means there’s no way to know how good the seats available will be until you get to the window and ask and you probably won’t have a lot of choice. If you’re interested in seeing a play check out the ‘Plays Only’ line, which tends to be much shorter. You can buy up to six tickets from the booth but ONLY buy from the windows at the booth. NEVER trust people standing on the street or walking through the lines claiming to be employees of TKTS, they are scammers. As it gets closer to curtain rising the lines will get shorter and prices may get cheaper but more and more shows will sell out so if you don’t have one show in mind that you really want to see it might be worth waiting but you may also be disappointed. You can ONLY buy tickets from TKTS in person, never over the phone or online.
Return Ticket Line
While I was in New York I was dying to see Dear Evan Hansen and I was entering the lottery every day, which I never won. Finally, on my last day I decided to try the return ticket line and I ended up getting an unclaimed lottery ticket for only $42! It was a standing ticket but I had a great view and it was completely worth spending the two hours in line. If you are going to try the returns line there are a few things you should know:
- It’s first in best dressed. I recommend looking up the time the box office opens and aim to get in line by that time if not a bit before
- You could be standing in line for hours, in my experience each time has been around two hours but it could definitely be longer
- You will be offered a ticket that someone has phoned it to get a refund on because they cannot attend the show, you will have to pay face value for the ticket and you don’t get a choice where you get to sit or how much you have to pay
- You can pass up a ticket if it’s too expensive for you or if you’d like something with a better view but there’s no guarantee that something better (if anything) will come along
- There is no guarantee that you will get a ticket
Today Tix is a website or smartphone app that can give you great discounts on tickets for popular shows. You’ll find tickets for Mean Girls, Come From Away and Book of Mormon from $69, School of Rock, Anastasia and Lifespan of a Fact starring Daniel Radcliffe from $59, Chicago and Waitress from $50, Avenue Q from $45, Fun Home from $35, Puffs! The Play from $22. I never got around to getting a ticket from Today Tix, I had my eye on a performance of Come From Away but sadly I ran out of time.
Broadway Box is similar to Today Tix but there are select shows that have discounts, usually mid-week and matinees, and you use a discount code to get the special prices. You can buy these discounted tickets through the Broadway Box website or app or you can give the code to your sales person at the box office and get the ticket in person. I bought tickets for both Chicago and Puffs! The Play though this website using various discount codes. On Broadway Box you can get Waitress tickets up to 70% off, Kinky Boots up to 40% off, Anastasia and Chicago up to $50 off, Puffs! The Play up to 29% off, Avenue Q up to 38% off and many more.
Sadly I didn’t win any lotteries but they’re worth giving a try. Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are all shows that are expensive to go to, hard to get tickets to and often sold out so I’d recommend trying these ones.
To enter the Hamilton lottery you need to download the Hamilton app. You can enter to get up to two tickets and if you win, tickets only cost a Hamilton ($10 each). There are lottery tickets available for every show.
The Dear Evan Hansen lottery is also online and you have until midnight the day before the performance to enter and you can win up to two tickets. Winners for matinee performances will be drawn and notified around 9am on the day of the performance and will receive email instructions on how to proceed. You must complete your purchase of the tickets by 11am and you can pick up you ticket 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the show. The protocol for evening performances is similar. You will be notified around 2pm and you must complete your purchase by 4pm.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child does lotteries a little differently. They call it the Friday 40 where they release 40 tickets for every show in the upcoming week for $40 ($20 per part). The Friday 40 opens at 12.01 every Friday morning (Thursday night) and is open until 1pm on Friday afternoon. Winners will be notified between 1 and 5pm and will have one hour to buy the tickets. Due to the split nature of the show, Cursed Child runs four performances each week. Again, you can win up to two tickets and you can enter the lottery here.
NOTE: If you have your heart set on seeing any one of these three shows I’d recommend buying them full price in advance as chances of winning any of these lotteries is slim.
Being a theatregoer isn’t a cheap hobby so I look for discounts wherever I can get them, especially while travelling. Let me know how you scored cheap theatre tickets or if you’re going to try any of the methods I outlined above. If you’re headed to New York sometime soon check out Laura’s articles on 5 Free Things to do in NYC and how to use the New York Subway System.