Broadway on a Budget
- OnStage New York Columnist
For all those theatre loving college students out there, summer break means trips to New York City to catch the newest and hottest Broadway shows. But with ticket prices rising each year, how can the broke college student afford to catch up with the new Broadway season? Thankfully, there are a number of ways the Broadway community has made theatre accessible to everyone, even those on a budget.
Rush tickets began in 1996, when “Rent” was the drawing in a whole new audience to the Great White Way. To help accommodate for the widespread popularity of the show, rush policies were made. Rush tickets are sold the day of the show when the box office opens, usually around 10am. The tickets are listed at a discount price, ranging usually between $25 and $45. However, the number of rush tickets available is limited, so hopefuls should arrive at the theatre prior to the box office opening to attempt to beat the potential crowds. Most theatres allow two rush tickets to be purchased per person. However, some only allow one, so it is wise to check the shows policies online prior to going to the theatre. There are three types of rush tickets. The first are general rush, which are available to the entire public. Student rush tickets are available with a valid student ID shown at time of purchase. The third is senior discount, which is available to seniors around the ages of 62 to 65 years old.
Most shows that do not have rush policies partake in a lottery. This allows theatre goers to enter their name in hopes of being picked to receive discounted tickets, usually priced the same as rush tickets. Lotteries are held the day of the performance, usually two and a half hours before the show begins. Winners are then picked two hours before the performance. In some cases, such as with shows like “Fun Home,” lotteries are held digitally. Digital lotteries, however, vary from show to show. “Fun Home” holds its digital lottery beginning at midnight each day through the TodayTix app. Others hold their lotteries through the shows website a few hours before the performance. Lotteries are much less reliable than rush tickets. Depending on the show and day of the week, a large amount of people could potentially enter the lottery. For instance, this season’s most talked about musical, “Hamilton,” holds a lottery in which twenty or so selected winners receive $10 tickets to the show. Only $10 to see Broadway’s hottest musical? Sounds great! But on average, thousands of people enter the lottery each night. This makes the chances of winning extremely slim. However, for shows that are not so new, such as “Wicked,” chances of winning the lottery are significantly higher.
When a performance is entirely sold out, some shows, such as “Chicago” and “The Color Purple,” sell a limited number of standing room tickets. These tickets, in which you must stand for the show, are available on the day of the performance. Usually priced between $20 and $30, each customer is allowed to purchase two tickets by means of cash or credit. Rush policies, standing room policies, and lotteries are the three most common ways to get discounted tickets to Broadway shows.
Though many websites and apps may claim to provide cheap tickets, they are not as discounted as these three means, and they often rack up the prices with processing fees. If you’re planning a trip to New York City to see a Broadway show, make sure to check the shows website to see what type of discount policy they offer. Thankfully, because of these policies, Broadway is now accessible to such a wide audience, including those on a budget.