Kasie Tiler Patlove
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been scrambling to try and see all of the great theater that’s out there. Between Broadway Box office smashes, off Broadway limited runs, and one night (or weekend) only events, there's so much to see and so little money. On a young professionals budget *cough3jobscough* it gets frustrating trying to see all of the current shows, and still being able to eat.
There used to be a diamond in the rough of finding cheap theater tickets. At the peak of its popularity in 1997, the production team introduced a same day ticket policy. Students could show up the morning of a performance and by $20 front row tickets. They did this in hopes of getting the younger, more open minded generation out to see theater. Clearly it worked, and student rush was born. Shortly after, many Broadway and Off Broadway shows embraced student rush, and thus lines begun outside of the theater before the sunrise, so that students could see shows on a budget.
My first summer in New York City was the summer of 2011. Working a part time internship, I had plenty of time to get up early and get tickets for shows. Usually, I didn’t need to arrive earlier than 8:45 am (box offices open at 9) and the majority of the time, had no problem getting a single ticket. Most tickets cost under $32.
4 years later, I have stood in countless lines from the crack of dawn (Pippin. Gentleman’s Guide) to pay upwards of $40 for so called rush tickets. Many shows have disregarded the student requirement, and now hold a general rush for anyone willing to get their butts out of bed early enough. I understand that the majority of theatergoers have the money to pay for $100 mezzanine seats, but what about the twenty something’s who have just financially separated from their parents? Who thrive on being transported to a world far away from their own? Shouldn’t they be able to see theater at a cost they can afford?
So, I’ll make things a little easier for you. I’ve listed a few websites, apps, resources that I’ve used to find relatively discounted tickets. Happy hunting!
1. Today Tix
What: A Mobile app for I phone and android
How it works: Available shows are searchable by date and available for purchase on the app.
Pros: They often have lottery tickets for new shows. For day of purchases, a representative will hold them outside the theater. No waiting in will call lines!
Cons: Lotteries are hard to win, but doable. Also, many shows will not offer discount tickets through the app.
Popular shows: On the Town, Fun Home (lottery), Something Rotten
2. 30 under 30
What: $30 tickets for people ages 30 and under. Available for Roundabout Theater Company, Manhattan Theater Club, Lincoln Center Theater
How It Works: Join a free membership online and they email you when tickets are available.
Pros: Available in advance. Hiptix allows you to buy two tickets, and the second person can be of any age.
Cons: Linctix only allows 1 ticket per person.
Popular shows: The King and I, Hand To God, On The 20th Century
What: Website that allows advanced purchase of tickets with student documentation
How It Works: Upload documentation of student status and a one time $7 fee. Then be granted access to tickets to many Broadway shows under $40.
Pros: Can purchased ahead of time.
Cons: Limited availability. Sometimes only 4-6 tickets per show. Usually limited view
Popular Shows: Fun Home, American In Paris, An Act of God, Hedwig
What: Website that finds seat fillers for unsold tickets.
How It Works: For $115 a year, you’re guaranteed 2 complimentary tickets to theater, dance opera etc.
Pros: It feels like free tickets
Cons: Limited availability. Expensive up front, website looks a little shady
What: A website that lists box office rush trends and probability of getting tickets
How It Works: They list how many people on average lined up per week, what time the first person got there, and how many of those who lined up got tickets
Pros: Insider Info! Very easy to plan ahead (and get enough sleep the night before)
Cons: Sudden changes in weather, or complete randomness could throw off your game.
6. Theater Development Fund
What: A website that has advanced tickets usually under $35
How It Works: To join, you have to be a student, a teacher, a union member, a senior, a civil service employee, a nonprofit or performing arts organization employee or a member of the armed forces or clergy. Then allows you to buy
Pros: Tickets in advance, special events
Cons: Annual Membership fee of $27