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Best Tips for Broadway

Whether you're handing over hundreds of dollars for a top seat or shoestringing it in with a standing-room ticket, you'll have better Broadway experiences to brag about if you take our advice.

Do your homework. Remember—your friend’s "must-see" may not be yours. Subscribe to online newsletters ahead of your trip; you'll get access to show synopses, special ticket offers, and more. If it's a classic play or opera, you might enjoy it more if you've read a synopsis before you go.

Reserve ahead. The TKTS booth is great if you're up for what the fates make available, but for must-sees, book early. While you're at it, ask whether the regular cast is expected. (An in-person stop at the box office is the most reliable way to score this information, but don't hold them to it unless it's the day of performance. If there is a change then—and the replacement cast is not acceptable to you—you may get a refund.) For musicals, live music will always add a special zing; confirm when ticketing to avoid surprises on the rare occasion when recorded music is used.

Check theater seating charts. Front mezzanine is a great option; with seats that overhang the orchestra section, they can be better (though not always less expensive) than many orchestra seats. Book with a seating chart at hand (available online and at the box office). Check accessibility, especially at older theaters with multiple flights of stairs and scarce elevators.

Know when to go. Typically, Broadways shows give eight performances a week. There are nightly performances from Tuesday through Saturday night, and matinees at 2 pm on Wednesday and Saturday and 3 pm on Sunday (on Monday most theaters are closed, or "dark"). Saturday nights and Wednesday matinees are the most difficult. Weeknights are popular with locals. Tuesday is especially promising, and typically an earlier curtain—7 or 7:30 instead of the usual 8 pm—helps ensure that you'll get a good night's sleep for your next day of touring.

Dress right. You can throw on jeans to go to the theater these days, but personally we feel shorts and sneakers have no place on Broadway (at least in the audience). Bring binoculars if your seats are up high, leave behind the heavy coat (coat checks are not the norm), and drop bags and packages off at your hotel room in advance—theater seats tend to be narrow, with little leg room.

Travel smart. Trying to get to the show on time? Unless you don't mind watching the meter run up while you're stuck in traffic, avoid cabs into or out of Times Square. Walk, especially if you're within 10 blocks of the theater. Otherwise, take the subway.

Dine off Broadway. Dining well on a budget and doing Broadway right are not mutually exclusive. The key is avoiding eating in Times Square itself—even the national chains are overpriced. Consider instead eating earlier, in whatever neighborhood you're visiting that day. Or, if you're already in midtown, head west to 9th or 10th Avenue. That's where many actors and other theater folk live, and you never know who you'll see on the street or at the next table. Prix-fixe deals and ethnic eateries are plentiful.

Updated: 2014-06-25

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