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10 Inexpensive Ways to See Broadway Shows in NYC

Going to see a show on Broadway doesn’t always have to cost an arm and a leg.

Broadway is the theater capital of the world, home to multitudes of world-class musicals and plays. Millions of people flock to New York City every year just to experience the sights and sounds of a Broadway play or musical, featuring world-class performers. There’s a show for everyone, but it often comes at a steep price. Even just sitting in the farthest row up on the balcony can cost at least $50, not to mention the fees. However, there are a lot of ways to see Broadway shows without breaking the bank or spending your entire vacation budget.

INSIDER TIPWhile Broadway is back, it is important to stay updated with the COVID-19 protocols, which generally involve proof of vaccination (and booster in some cases) and masks indoors. Check requirements before attending a  show.

 

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Be Flexible

The most important thing in looking for discounted Broadway tickets is to be flexible. Though this is easier for long-term visitors and residents, it is important to be open-minded. The musical that you wanted to see is completely sold out or costs $200 for a balcony seat? Maybe there’s another theater you walked by offering standing-room-only tickets for much less. You’ll be surprised with what you see–maybe you’ll find your new favorite musical! 

Additionally, many of the best ways to get discounts on Broadway tickets involves being flexible with your time. One of the best ways is to buy them the day of. If you have some extra days or time in your schedule, it is much easier to find discounted tickets that work for you. Weekday matinee shows are a great time to see a show, as many theater fans living in New York City are working during this time.

INSIDER TIPIt is always better to buy early as many discounts are on a first-come-first-serve basis!

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Buy Directly From the Box Office

Many, if not all, shows sell tickets through third-party sources (e.g., Ticketmaster). However, this adds extra fees on top of an already pricey ticket. And the fees aren’t cheap either–often they can add $25 or more to a ticket cost. Buying directly from a theater’s box office eliminates those third-party fees, not to mention any other discounts that the box office may offer. Be sure to look up opening times as box offices are only open at certain hours of the day.

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The Ticket Lottery

One of the most popular ways to get discount tickets is by playing the lottery. This option is especially popular among theater fans, residents, and long-term visitors. While you used to have to go to a theater’s box office to enter the lottery, theaters have now migrated to digital lotteries. Prices for lottery tickets vary by show but generally cost around $30-$50 for generally great seats. The odds of winning a lottery vary by show, but weekday matinees and less currently popular shows are easier to win. 

As an important note, you should check the opening and closing times for lotteries, as they vary by show. In addition, if you’re fortunate enough to win a lottery, you only have a one to two-hour period to claim and pay for your ticket.

INSIDER TIPLucky Seat, a popular lottery website used by many theaters, allows you to enter lotteries for all performances within the next week. Set a daily or weekly alert to enter the lotteries before they close.

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Day of "Rushing"

Another popular way to spend less money is by “rushing.” Many theaters offer limited day-of discounts on tickets on a first-come, first-served basis. Check the theater’s rush policies as some require you to physically go to the box office, while others have a digital rush. Prices for rush tickets are similar to the lottery, ranging from $30-$70 depending on the show. While the seats offered are at the theater’s discretion, they are often the same seats that you would pay over $100 for otherwise.

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Student Tickets

If you’re a student or still have your student ID, you’re in luck! Many shows offer student tickets at a discounted price. The seats aren’t always a bad view either. For example, you can buy currently orchestra-level student tickets at Wicked for $69, where normally the cost is over $100 at minimum.

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Standing Room Only

Some shows offer standing room only or SRO tickets. Prices vary between $25 and $45, so if you don’t mind standing (and own comfy shoes) this is a great option. All shows list their runtime in accessible places, as well as whether there are any intermissions, so it is easy to plan. SRO spaces are generally towards the back of the orchestra section, providing a great view.

INSIDER TIPPlaybill has a great updated list of discounted lottery, rush, student, and standing room ticket policies.

 

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Free Ticket Opportunities

Occasionally theaters will have special shows where tickets are free on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Public Theater, located a bit farther south from the main hub of Broadway at the Astor Library, has free tickets to its shows, known as Joseph Papp Free Performances. You can get these tickets either through their lottery or same-day standby. The Public Theater is known for celebrating and supporting diversity and inclusion in theater through its lineup. Sometimes you can even see a show before it becomes a global hit–such as Hamilton, which had its original run at The Public Theater.

The Public Theater also runs the very popular Shakespeare in the Park every year in the summer at Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Tickets for these shows are also free and can be bought through various outlets. Shakespeare in the Park delivers modern takes on classic Shakespeare works featuring some of the biggest performers in the theater world. The 2022 lineup includes As You Like It and Richard III.

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Times Square TKTS Booth

A defining feature of Times Square, the iconic red TKTS booth offers discounted day-of tickets. Outside of the stand, the booth lists their current offering of discounts for that day’s matinee and evening performances. You can also buy discounted tickets for the next day’s matinee performances. The TKTS booth offers discounts up to 50% off, so it never hurts to check out their booth if you’re in Times Square. They also update prices in real-time online and through their app if you’re not in the area. It is also important to note that there is a $6 service charge on all ticket purchases.

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BroadwayDirect

BroadwayDirect is a popular website for Broadway news and also offers a ticket purchasing platform. The website is owned by the Nederlander Organization, which owns multiple theaters on Broadway, and so is an especially good option for shows in these theaters. Many Broadway lotteries are housed on this site as well, making it a good site to keep bookmarked.

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TodayTix and Discount Apps

Over the years, discount Broadway sites have become increasingly popular. One of the most well-known is TodayTix. The website, which also has an app, allows you to buy tickets to shows not just in New York City, but in many theater hubs globally. Though the platform isn’t explicitly a discounted ticket platform, they often have sales and discounts for many shows. Something to be wary of with TodayTix is their ticket fees, which vary by show and can also be pretty steep, although occasionally they do have a no-fees sale. TodayTix is also one of the few ways to find discounted tickets ahead of time, as opposed to day-of, making it a great option for visitors with limited time.

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