There are unspoken rules you should follow in New York City: never board an empty Subway car on a full train, stand to the right on the escalator, and never pay full price for Broadway tickets. Sure, it might mean arriving early and standing in line, but the odds are good that you can get a deep discount, especially in the slower winter months (provided it’s not a hot show like Hamilton… and if you figure out how to score those affordably and at the last minute, give us a call). Here are six theater discounts you should know about before you buy Broadway tickets in the Big Apple.
Head to one of these iconic red booths from the Theatre Development Fund for last-minute, day-of tickets at 20 to 50 percent off (say, $52 for Phantom of the Opera tickets instead of the face value $105 for a mezzanine seat at that night’s evening show). While there are several locations, the most well-known TKTS — and most crowded — is in Times Square (at Duffy Square on Broadway and 47th), but for potentially shorter lines we suggest going to Lincoln Center (62nd and Columbus Ave), South Street Seaport (Front and John Streets) or Brooklyn (1 MetroTech Center at Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue Promenade), which sell matinee tickets one day in advance. Go early for a day-of the performance in Times Square (this location opens at 10 am for matinees) but have a few options in mind, in case your preferred show is sold out. (Check the digital signs near the booth to see what's available.) Note that there’s a limit of six tickets per person, and they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you’re not one for waiting in line, this app is a good solution. You can book discounted shows up to a week in advance in 10 cities, including New York. Tickets for Kinky Boots start at $45, Book of Mormon from $79, and Waitress with Sara Bareilles from $99. And, you can save $10 on your first ticket purchase with the code Welcome2TT (and every time you refer someone who uses your code).
3. "Rushing" and lotteries
Interested in seeing a particular show? One of the best ways is to "rush" for tickets. Allow us to translate: You head to the theater as soon as the box office opens (the length of the line will depend on the popularity of the show) and wait for any available tickets -- usually returns, standing room, or obstructed views -- to be distributed at a discounted rate. If you want to see Chicago, for example, you have a good chance of scoring one of the 25 tickets up for grabs as long as you arrive to the theater (Ambassador Theatre at 49th between Broadway and Eighth Ave) about an hour before the box office opens at 10 am. All the waiting pays off: the cost is only $36.50 for one of these rush tickets. Some shows also allow you to enter a lottery, meaning you enter your name (either online or in person, depending on the show), and a handful of winners are announced a few hours prior the show. Note that it doesn’t always work: you have a lower chance of winning the most popular shows since more people enter. For Hamilton — the unicorn of Broadway lottery — an estimated 10,000 people enter online every day, and only 21 tickets are available.
4. Broadway Week
Forget Restaurant Week — this is the only week that really matters for diehard theater fans. If you act fast, you can snag two tickets for the price of one for about 20 performances (some of them Tony winners) for favorites like The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked. Broadway Week happens biannually, usually at the end of summer and in early winter (the last one took place January 17 – February 5). So, keep an eye out — 2018 dates will be announced this summer.
5. 30 Under 30
If you’re under 30, you can sign up, free of charge, to score tickets for $30 from the Manhattan Theatre Club. While this discount generally doesn't apply to Broadway's big name shows — this year’s line-up includes shows like The Children and Prince of Broadway — it's still a steal, and you can buy two tickets per performance.
6. Snow Day Discount
Visiting in the winter? If a Nor’easter comes through the city, there’s one great reason to rejoice: Broadway shows still run (and you can bet there are way less people on line and entering the lottery, too). In the winter of 2017, some theaters gave 40 percent discounts for shows including Waitress and Chicago. The show must go on, after all.