Broadway Your Way: How to Find Cheap Theater Tickets

By: Hadassah Penn  |  December 20, 2018
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By Hadassah Penn, Opinions Editor

I live in New York City, and so do you.

No, wait. We actually live at Stern, and sometimes those two facts seems totally separate. With all the work we’ve got to do, who’s got time for anything “fun” or “cultured?” And besides, who’s got the spare cash?

When I’m not swamped with work–and even when I am, sometimes–my personal favorite way to spend a spontaneous night out is at a Broadway show.

The truth is, the theater capital of the world is actually the best place for those short on cash, time, or (let’s be real) both. There are tons of simple, accessible ways to find cheap tickets, whether you’re planning for next month or for two hours from now. We live “in the greatest city in the world” every single day. (Raise your hand if you saw that Hamilton quote coming.)

Don’t let long lines or sold-out shows scare you away! If you’re willing to be a bit creative, you’ll be experiencing the magic of theater in no time.

I’ve purchased tickets a lot of different ways, and here are some of my favorites:

1) Rush tickets: This is the most time-consuming of my ticket methods, but also my favorite, because it heightens anticipation and is always an experience. Certain Broadway shows offer a limited number of cheap tickets (generally $30-40 each) first-come-first-served at the box office on the day of the show. The seats are “imperfect” in some way that keeps them from being full-price–maybe super close to the stage, maybe a slightly obstructed view– but definitely worth it for the lowered price. Once the box office opens (12PM on Sundays, 10AM the rest of the week), each person in line can buy up to two tickets until there are none left. Grab a friend, a book, or some homework, and queue up! Depending on the show, the day, and the weather,  the line might be long, short, or nonexistent, but it’s great to get there a few hours early just in case. Playbill.com keeps a comprehensive and updated list of all current rush policies, which you can find right here for Broadway and here for Off-Broadway.

2) Broadway Week: This is a great option if you’re looking to buy in advance. Twice a year, the Broadway League and NYC&Co team up to present Broadway Week, when tickets for many shows go on sale 2-for-1–that is, 50% off. There’s even an Off-Broadway Week, if you’re feeling adventurous. The next Broadway Week will be in January 2019, so mark your calendars!

3) TodayTix: Whether for next week or next month, you can use this app to buy reasonably-priced tickets in seconds. They’re not always the cheapest option, especially once you add the $12.50 fee, but the app is just so easy. Some shows also conduct their Rush tickets and lotteries through TodayTix, so make sure to check that out as well. If you’re looking for convenience, TodayTix is the way to go.

4) StubHub: For those of you who like last-minute decisions, the StubHub app is great. Although tickets are generally pretty expensive, prices sometimes plummet, especially close to showtime. If you’re accustomed to checking the app, you just might get lucky.  You can also set price alerts for shows you’re interested in. StubHub will notify you if tickets are ever at your specified price, and you can snag them before they’re gone.

5) Lotteries: Hey, you never know! This method doesn’t work when you’re planning a night out in advance, of course, but it’s a good habit if your nights are generally free. Some shows have daily lotteries through Broadway Direct. With Lucky Seat, you can enter once for a week’s worth of shows, then wait and see. You can enter lotteries through TodayTix as well, as mentioned above. If you win, you will have a set amount of time to claim your tickets before they’re given to someone else, so keep an eye on your email. Some shows also hold in-person lotteries outside the theater 1-2 hours before the show, if you happen to be passing through Times Square. You won’t win every time, but the times that you do will make it all worth it. The website Broadway for Broke People lists all current shows’ lottery information, with direct links to the proper websites.

6) TKTS: If you’re looking for really good seats and you’re willing to pay a bit more, head to Times Square (47th and Broadway) to the TKTS booth by the red stairs. With TKTS, you can purchase same-day tickets at significant discounts. They’re not as cheap as Rush or lottery tickets, but the seats are always great. These are prime seats that just didn’t sell in time for the show– and now you have the opportunity to pick them up at a much lower price. Check the TKTS board near the booth (or download the TKTS app) to see what shows are available and at what discount. You might have to wait on line for a bit, so make sure you come well before showtime to get your tickets.

7) Some general tips: some sold-out shows offer SRO– standing room only– for really cheap, and it’s much better than it sounds. If you have the energy, this option is pretty solid. Also, tickets are usually easier to obtain on weekdays, when shows are less crowded. During the holiday season– like, right now– prices go way up, but things are much calmer after the New Year.

All in all, Broadway tickets are a lot easier– and cheaper– to get than you may have thought. So don’t wait until spring break to see Frozen with all of your little siblings– why not take advantage of what the City has to offer?

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