Sara Mirowski, Amateur Musicals Supervisor here at Samuel French, is a self proclaimed Broadway Theatre fanatic. In this article, she'll take you through some sneaky tricks she's learned over the years to score cheap seats to Broadway Shows.
Taking a trip to the theatre can be expensive. Really expensive. While I would love to be able to shell out $477.00 (plus service fees) for a fantastic seat at Broadway’s hit show The Book of Mormon, I have accepted that paying my rent has to be higher on my list of priorities. But, regardless of Broadway’s sky high ticket prices, I manage to see quite a few shows in a month – admittedly, some shows more than once. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a self proclaimed expert when it comes to getting cheap tickets. And now here’s a perfect chance for me to bestow all of my knowledge to you, so next time you can’t use the excuse “it’s too expensive” when trying to avoid that annoying friend (me) who wants to see Hair for the five millionth time.
Most Broadway and Off Broadway shows have a lottery or rush ticket policy for those of us who are on a budget yet want/need to see as much theatre as our bank accounts will allow. Even hit shows like The Book of Mormon, Wicked, Jersey Boys, and new-to-the-block Newsies have a ticket lottery for every performance so that everyone has a chance to see a Broadway hit and not break the bank. The best way to find out if a show you want to see has a lottery or rush policy is to check out websites like www.playbill.com, www.broadwayworld.com, www.broadwayforbrokepeople.com, or www.broadwayspotted.com. Also, asking at box office of the theatre is a way to find out what “cheap ticket policies” a show may have.
A lottery for a Broadway show usually takes place a few hours before curtain, outside of the theatre. You show up, put your name in a bucket, and hope like heck they choose it!
For me, lotteries are both a curse and a blessing. Admittedly, I don’t have much luck when it comes to my name being pulled out of a bucket with 300+ entries. Just recently, Newsies did a special lottery for their opening night performance – 100 tickets were given out to 50 lucky winners (2 tickets per winner). The tickets were only $30.00 so I obviously had to give it a shot! Suddenly, half way through the names being called, I heard what I thought was “Sara Mirowski!” being yelled through the megaphone. I could not believe it! I let out a loud “woo!” and made my way through the crowd to claim my opening night tickets but, was then met with confused and slightly panicked faces from the people making sure the lotto was running smoothly. They called the name “Sara Mir….ski.” A name so close to mine that I thought for sure that, against all odds, I was going to the Newsies opening night performance. But it was too good to be true and “Sara Mir…ski” went instead. Lotto stories like that are not the norm, unless your name is Joe Smith. And I have actually won a few lottos in my day. I must admit, it feels pretty good when your name is pulled and everyone who lost looks at you with hatred and jealously.
Personally, I prefer “rushing” a show. Some theatres, instead of having a lotto, will have a certain amount of Rush Tickets available that you can buy for a low price when the box office opens (keep in mind, this policy is sometimes only available to students with a valid ID).
There are times when you have to get up at the crack of dawn in order to get in line at the box office and make sure you get a cheap ticket, but usually the effort is worth it (and you don’t have to put everything to chance). I had a friend that came into town from Boston, we’ll call her Amy Kate (because that’s her name), specifically to see Glee star Darren Criss in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Criss’ three week run in the show made tickets very hard to come by. I had to accept the fact that Amy Kate and I would have to get into the rush line at 5:00am just to make sure we actually got tickets. We did, in fact, show up at 5:00am and waited until 10:00am (when the box office opened) in order to buy our tickets. It was worth it though – the show was great and waiting in the rush line is all part of the experience.
Even as someone who likes to sleep in, I still prefer rushes that are more low key. During the slower Broadway season, oftentimes you can stroll up to the box office a couple hours before curtain and still manage to snatch up some cheap tickets for a Broadway show.
While lottos and rushes are the most popular ways to get tickets at a low price, theatres do sometimes have other offers. Roundabout Theatre Company has their HipTix program - $22.00 tickets for registered theatergoers between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. Lincoln Center has LincTix, which is the same type of program as Roundabout Theatre Company but tickets are $31.50 (still a steal!) Manhattan Theatre Club has a “30 Under 30” program ($30.00 tickets for those under 30 years old – pretty self explanatory). And if all the great deals I’ve already mentioned aren’t enough, a lot of shows have done special free performances.
The Book of Mormon just recently announced their second fan appreciation performance, which enters anyone that has lotto’ed the show during a specific time period into a pool to win free tickets to a special performance. As I mentioned before, Newsies had a special lotto for their opening night performance. Chicago also did a free fan appreciation performance for fans who “liked” the Chicago Facebook page. For up to date news on events like these, www.playbill.com and www.broadwayworld.com always have up to date news.
And one more tip? It’s usually easier to get tickets for a new show early in previews - word of mouth hasn’t had a chance to spread yet and reviews haven’t been released for out of towners to read.
Theatre can be affordable, believe it or not. Take it from me – tonight I’ll be trying the lotto for The Book of Mormon, which someday I may actually win (6 times the charm?). I would love to go into even greater detail on what my favorite shows currently running are (*cough*Jesus Christ Superstar*cough*) and how my lotto/rush experiences have been for said shows but, that will have to be saved for another day. What past or present Broadway shows do you love at the moment?