Love to see Broadway shows – but hate the ticket prices? Follow our guide and learn to score cheap Broadway tickets in New York City.
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How To Score Cheap Broadway Tickets in New York City
I don’t want to brag, but in the past year, I’ve been able to see a variety of great Broadway shows – including the Tony winner Dear Evan Hansen, Kinky Boots, Mean Girls and The Cher Show – and I never paid more than $50 for a theatre ticket.
Then there was that day when my husband and I caught a King Kong matinee, followed by an evening performance of Be More Chill – and still kept the entertainment budget for show tickets under $200.
How do I get these great ticket prices? Well, I’ve learned the way to score cheap Broadways tickets in New York City – and you can too. Of course, flexibility is the key. For some of these options, you have to be available “day of,” and for others, you have to be willing to take a partial view seat or even standing room only. And most times, you’re not able to choose the play you’ll see. But in the past year, I’ve saved enough for my daughter and I to be able to see Hamilton on Broadway (at full price). And we won Hamilton seats in Baltimore – for $10 apiece.
So are you near NYC, or Broadway bound in the near future? Read on to learn my secret to scoring cheap discount tickets. See ya at the box office!
How to Get Discount Broadway Tickets While in Manhattan
If you’re already in the city, there are several ways to snag cheap tickets for a show. Here are some we’ve tried, with great success:
Broadway Rush Tickets
If you’re an early riser, rush tickets may be just the ticket for you. Basically, these are unsold, day-of-show tickets that become available at a reduced rate. The last-minute tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis, so be prepared to get in line way before the box office opens on the day of the show.
Not everyone is qualified for all rush tickets. There are different types of rush – general rush (for everybody), student rush (must have a student ID), senior rush and under 35 rush. Sometimes you can get lucky and a rush may allow two tickets per person. But generally it’s safer to have each person there, prepared to purchase their own seat.
Remember each theatre can have its own rules when offering cheap tickets. The “rush” for Wicked, for example, is actually a combination of a rush and a lottery. Like a rush, you have to line up early at the box office to have a chance at a seat. But in this case, it’s not “first come, first serve.” Instead, they begin taking names two and a half hours before the show. Then, two hours before the show, they do a lottery and pull names of the lucky ticket winners, each of whom can buy two seats. It sounds like a bit of a hassle, but how else can you get cheap ($30!) seats to Wicked?
If you want to learn the ins and outs of the rush for your favorite show (and you certainly should before heading into Manhattan), try googling “Name of Show” and “rush tickets.”
If you’re in the city and interested in seeing a Broadway or off-Broadway show, head to the red TKTS by tdf (Theatre Development Fund) Discount Booths. Here you can buy same-day discount tickets to shows, usually at a discount of up to 50%. Additional fees will be added, but that’s true of most ticket purchases. The fees associated with the TKTS booths are traditionally the lowest around.
Visit ticket booths at one of the three locations – Times Square, Lincoln Center or South Street Seaport. You’ll find the booth, and usually a long line, especially right near show time. But in our experience, the line moves quickly. And a plus – each person in line can buy up to six tickets, so generally only one person has to wait while the rest of the family shops in Time Square.
Want to get a sneak peak, or see how much tickets to Aladdin or My Fair Lady will be? Download the tkts app! The app offers up-to-the-minute listings of the shows available at the booths in all three locations. So you’ll know before you get in line that tickets to the show of your choice are available.
Finding Discount Tickets – Before You Leave Home
If you’re heading into the city, but want to be sure you have seats to a show, try one of these ways to get Broadway tickets.
Broadway Ticket Lottery
Most of the shows I’ve seen in the past year have come courtesy of the various Broadway ticket lotteries. I started out just playing two a day – Springsteen on Broadway and Hamilton. Well, I never won Springsteen tickets (we ended up buying them), and I still play the Hamilton lottery daily without a win in over two years. But in the mean time, I learned the more open I was to different shows, the better the chance I had of winning tickets. I started playing the lotteries on all the shows I could think of, every chance I had – and soon, my daughter and I were in the audience of some great shows – at under $50 a ticket!
Now, here’s the thing. With these lotteries, you enter the same day (sometimes the night before). You are notified you won just hours before the curtain goes up, so you have to be prepared to get up and go (depending on how far you are from NYC). We live in South Jersey. Usually a winning notification comes in around 2 p.m. for a 7 p.m. show. You are given a time limit to purchase your tickets at a reduced price.
The other downside is it’s just two seats per win, and the seats are often “partial view.” For example, when we went to see Beautiful, we sat in the front row – but all the way to the left. So great seats, for part of the stage. We’re okay with that, when we’re saving so much for entertainment.
This is the newest – and perhaps most fun – way to see a Broadway show on the cheap. It’s also the best way to play if you’re planning ahead, because you can chose a date up to four months in advance! Broadway Roulette allows you to pick the day and the number of seats. So you don’t have to drop everything, and the entire family can come! The only catch is – they pick the show for you. It’s like roulette – they spin the wheel, you “win” a show, and on the morning of your chosen date, you’re notified of what you’ll be seeing.
My husband and I tried Broadway Roulette for the first time this summer. We chose a date during my husband’s company shut down (about a month out). We designated a preference for musicals (you can also ask for “family friendly” shows). And we eliminated four shows (for us, ones we already saw!). And on the morning of our chosen day, we received a fun email telling us we had great seats to Be More Chill that evening.
It was a totally fun experience, and we will definitely do it again with kids. The tickets are only $49 during the week and $59 for weekends, along with service fees. Bonus: if we sign in on the app, they keep track of what we’ve already “won,” so no need to eliminate that show next time.
TodayTix and its app offer a hybrid of these ticket-buying methods to get cheap Broadway tickets in New York City (and a variety of other cities, too). On the app at any time you can buy discount tickets (your choice of date and number). You don’t get to choose the seats exactly, but you can choose the section. We bought tickets to Beetlejuice for the entire family this way. The tickets were far left, so we missed a some of the fantastic staging. But we saw plenty at $59 a seat for third row tickets.
Also, the TodayTix app offers selected Broadway and off-Broadway shows through an online “rush” at 10 a.m. each morning. You have to sign up for the “rushes” you’re interested in prior to the rush. Right before 10, you’ll receive a text telling you the rush is almost open. Open up the app, wait until 10 and click on the show – and snag some sweet tickets, often as low as $39 a seat.
On With The Show
I know there are other ways to score cheap tickets for Broadway shows. A friend tells me she watches the resale ticket sites, like LiveNation, and pounces when she sees tickets in her price range. Another friend has had a lot of luck with buying tickets on BroadwayBox. I haven’t tried either of these methods, but hey, I’m not ruling anything out!
I love seeing Broadway shows, but I don’t love what ticket prices do to my budget. That’s why I learned how to get my tickets at a discount, which has allowed me to see more curtain calls than I ever imagined.
Spending time in the city? Check out Grand Central Station for free!