How To Snag Tickets on Broadway

by Alexandra Ley

We decided to repost this article, because, well… Broadway just never gets old, and we could all use some advice on scoring those tickets. Also, check out our list of the top new and classic shows out this season.

So you didn’t get to the Student Ticket Booth in time…again. Fed up of trying to get those “discount Broadway tickets” that everybody but you seems to be enjoying? Sometimes you have to go out and make the magic happen for yourself—and by that I mean you need to get on the 1 train heading downtown and go to 42nd Street on the day of a performance.

Before I tell you about all of the fantastic deals that you might not know about, let me give you some tips about attempting to get tickets the day of a performance.

1. Know where you’re going. 
I cannot stress this enough. If you have a fancy smartphone and can look up the theater directions on the go, great. If not, write down the addresses of theaters you are interested in beforehand. Then if you strike out at your top choice, you can grab a ticket to another and your trip downtown will not be in vain. That being said…

2. Get there early.
The most popular shows sell out quickly, especially on weekends. If you know the show you want to see is popular, I recommend getting there as soon as the box office opens (look that up online beforehand) or as soon after as you can, even if it means spending more time than you would like to in Times Square.

3. Check out your options.
If you’ve followed my first two tips you’ll be able to go between theaters and check out the price options at different shows before giving anyone money and committing to a performance.

4. Go midweek.
If you find yourself with a free Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday night and your homework is done (or even if it isn’t), your chances of getting a ticket to a Broadway show are significantly better than on the weekends when there are more tourists than New Yorkers in Times Square.

5. Bring cash.
Some box offices will not accept debit or credit cards for rush tickets, so try to be prepared for those situations.

And what should you be looking for at the box office?

The Discount Tickets

Student Rush Tickets
A lot of shows have them, and sometimes the seats are really great—all I had to do to get an orchestra seat to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was flash my student ID and put down $21.50 (yup, you read that correctly!) Sometimes these are the “partial-view” seats—a bunch of ballerinas blocked my view for about five minutes during Billy Elliot, but since I got to sit in the seventh row for about $90 less than the people around me, I did not see any reason to complain. Just go to the box office and ask if they offer student rush, and they’ll explain the show’s specific policy. Also, the ushers are incredibly nice to you when they see you’re a student enjoying a night out at the theatre, and you might even meet other students you can chat with during intermission, since student rush tickets are often grouped together.

General Rush Tickets
These are open to the public and tend to sell out quickly on weekends, so get to the box office especially early to the shows that offer general rush, but not student rush.

Lottery Tickets
For the Broadway-loving gamblers out there, some shows offer lottery tickets. These can be a little tricky to coordinate if you’re set on seeing a particular show. Go to the box office about two and a half hours early and put in your name, and then go back two hours (normally) before curtain to see if your name is drawn. Every name drawn gets two tickets, so if you’re going with more than one friend, you can try putting in multiple names, but don’t count on them getting chosen. Since the lotteries tend to happen outside, chances are normally better during bad weather or (like every other ticket) on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. You and your friends might want to try putting in multiple names at multiple lotteries to hedge your bets, but once again, know where you’re going, or else you might get lost running from the Gershwin to the Nederlander if your friend texts you that you’ve won! Lottery seats are generally some of the best in the house—Wicked sells a limited number of front row seats for $25 (cash only) at each performance this way. Remember to bring a photo ID to claim your tickets!

Standing Room Tickets
Finally, a deal that would only appeal to the die-hard Broadway fanatic—$20 standing room tickets. Only theaters with smaller orchestra seating areas generally sell these, and only when rush tickets completely sell out. I know what you’re thinking: “I have to pay to stand for THREE HOURS?” I would not recommend doing this in heels, but it’s not as uncomfortable as you might think (at least not normally until the last half hour or so). There is usually a railing or floor for you to lean on, and the ushers are friendly and will often joke with you before the performance. Plus, it can totally pay off; I stood for two of the most incredible shows I have seen on Broadway (I didn’t even really want to see Memphis all that badly… and for $21.50 it became a favorite!).

Balcony Seats
Still no luck? Ask about balcony seats. The back rows, and sometimes the front rows, of the mezzanine are typically under $50 and not that much more than student rush tickets. Consider this for shows with a lot of dance numbers, because you’ll have the best view in the house to see the choreography.

Grab a Metro Card and get down to Times Square if you’ve been dying to see a show without breaking your bank account, because you’ll find it’s easier than you think!

For regularly updated student rush/lottery policies, check this article in Playbill. When in doubt, contact Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 and ask about policies for specific shows, which may change without notice.

Alexandra is a sophomore at Barnard College and the Contributing Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of last.fm

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