I’ve had a lot of emails, comments and Facebook messages about the Broadways shows I have attended during my time in New York on this trip and previous trips, and, in particular, how I manage to get cheap tickets to Broadway shows – so in this post I am going to share with you how you can see more shows in New York, and spend less money. These are not ‘secrets’ – but they’re things that the average tourist doesn’t often know about.
Broadway Lotteries are generally held by shows that sell out daily, or come close to it.
Lotteries are simple – think of them as a raffle that you don’t pay to enter, but you pay if you win! You turn up at the theatre during an allocated 30 minute period (usually between 2 1/2 and 2 hours before the show, although some are between 2 hours and 90 minutes) and fill in a form with you name, the number of tickets you want (you can choose from 1 or 2) and sometimes contact details like a phone number or email. Then at the end of the 30 minute period (ie. 2 hours before the show) winners are drawn from the barrel/bag/hat, and if you’re lucky enough to be drawn, you get up to 2 tickets for $25-37 per ticket (depending on the show). Most shows sell between 16 and 26 lottery tickets. Seats are often good (for Wicked and The Book of Mormon they sell the entire front row as lottery) but can sometimes be restricted/obstructed view. Important notes: You MUST have a photo ID ON YOUR PERSON to be able to claim lottery tickets if you win. Some lotteries only take cash for tickets. You are entering the lottery to win tickets for the NEXT performance. If you attend the Wednesday 12pm lottery, the tickets you win will be for the 2pm show THAT DAY.
At the time of posting (March 11, 2014) shows on Broadway that have lotteries are Wicked, Matilda, Kinky Boots, Newsies, If/Then, The Book of Mormon & Rocky.
Rush, Student Rush & Age-limit Rush
Some shows that do not run lotteries sell ‘Rush’ tickets. Rush tickets are sold when the box office opens (generally 10am) on the day of the show, subject to availability and range from $27 to $40 each. For popular shows lines can start forming as early as 5am for rush tickets.
Important notes:Shows that have a Student Rush require a valid Student ID. Shows that have an Age-Limit Rush require a photo ID with birthdate. Some shows have a 1-ticket per person limit, some a 2-ticket per person limit.
At the time of posting (March 11, 2014) shows on Broadway that have General Rush tickets are After Midnight, Aladdin, Beautiful, The Bridges of Maddison County, Bullets Over Broadway, Chicago, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia, No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot, Once & Pippin.
At the time of posting (March 11, 2014) shows on Broadway that have Student Rush are All The Way, Cinderella, Jersey Boys, Outside Mullingar & Rock of Ages.
At the time of posting (March 11, 2014) shows on Broadway that have an Age-Limit Rush are A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Under 35).
Standing Room tickets are harder to get because they are usually only available if the show is sold out. There’s no definite way to predict in advance whether a performance will sell out. One Standing Room ticket is sold per person, and patrons need to stand in numbered spaces the width of a seat, which are usually located at the back of the orchestra.
Standing Room works in the same way as Rush tickets – those wanting Standing Room tickets form a line. Standing Room tickets are often sold following a lottery. Tickets range from $25 to $40.
At the time of posting (March 11, 2014) shows on Broadway that often sell Standing Room tickets are The Book of Mormon (sold after lottery), Chicago (at box office on days that the show is sold out), Mamma Mia (only when show is sold out, available at the box office 2 hours before curtain), Matilda (only when show is sold out, available at the box office when it opens), Newsies (only when sold out, sold after lottery), The Phantom of the Opera (when sold out).
The Theatre Development Fund runs the TKTS booths in Times Square, South Street Seaport and Brooklyn. Tickets are sold for shows at 20%, 30%, 40% and 50% off the full ticketed price. The Times Square sells tickets for Matinees and Evening shows on the day of the show. SSS and Brooklyn sell tickets for Matinees the day before, and Evening shows the day of.
The booth at Times Square is located under the red steps, at Broadway and 47th Street. It opens at 10am-2pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays for matinee tickets and 11am-3pm for Sunday matinee shows. For evening shows, the Times Square booth opens from 3pm-8pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; from 2pm-8pm on Tuesday, and from 3pm-7pm on Sunday. You can find more information on opening hours of all 3 booths here. Which shows and tickets they have for sale varies from day to day, hour to hour. There are boards at each of the booths that show what is on sale, and for what percentage off. The TKTS website has a “live” board online that shows what is currently on sale at each booth (or, if the booth is closed, which shows have most recently been ‘on the boards’). Find out what is on sale at TKTS Times Square, TKTS South Street Seaport & TKTS Brooklyn.
More detailed information on the Rush and Lottery policies for each show currently on Broadway can be found on the playbill.com website here.