If it’s been a while since you last purchased Broadway show tickets, prepare for sticker shock. Premium seats at popular New York City musical theaters now go for well over $200, and the most highly prized seats can be much, much more–think an insanely high $850 for the best seats to Hamilton.
There are a number of online vendors that promise cheap tickets, but how to know if you’re getting a good value? Here’s my tried and true guide to finding the best tickets to Broadway shows at discount prices.
What are popular shows on Broadway?
If you’re looking for a night out on the town, there’s no better way to make yourself proud than by scoring tickets to one of Broadway’s top shows. But how to choose?
Some of the most popular productions on Broadway, such as Dear Evan Hansen, Beetlejuice, Mean Girls, and The Phantom of the Opera have closed. Meanwhile, the Lion King, Wicked, Hamilton, and The Book of Mormon continue to sell out.
Shucked is a recent surprise hit, as is Kimberly Akimbo and Six. And they join other crowd pleasers such as MJ: The Musical, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, and family-favorite, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And we haven’t even listed the award winners such as Hadestown, winner of the Tony Awards including best musical.
But it’s not just the big-name shows that are worth seeing. There are also plenty of other fantastic productions to choose from Off Broadway, such as The Appointment, Endgame, or The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window.
A free subscription to Playbill Club keeps you posted about the latest shows and special offers, and club membership gets you into the discount listings. NYC Go Seats provides show synopses and a database to sort these by genre and audience; ticket purchases automatically pull up the best seats available.
New York City Theater does a good job of describing all kinds of shows; even better, it includes information on parking, dining, and hotels. This is a good place to learn about upcoming shows and those in previews; note that tickets offered for sale are resale tickets that may be sold at above face value.
Broadway World provides show and travel discounts, plus it lists college and high school productions where you can catch the next star (at rock-bottom prices.)
When is the best time to buy a Broadway show ticket?
There is a big difference in price for Broadway shows during the high-demand holiday season versus the slow months of January, February, September, and October. Not only are ticket prices lower, but these months also bring special events that make a theater outing even more wonderful.
Broadway Week typically runs in fall and winter. Look for it next year in January 2024, with two-for-one deals on some of the hottest shows. On March 21, 2023, Kids Night On Broadway allowed kids in free when accompanied by an adult. Additional perks are available when you sign up for the fan club.
Where are the best seats in a theater for watching a musical?
Not all front-row seats are created equal. Depending on the layout of the theater, sometimes front mezzanine seats offer the best view of the stage. Check Headout Blog for Broadway theater seating charts and tips to find the best seats in the house.
Get a Broadway Show Discount Guide subscription ($4.95 for 30 days) for exclusive discounts on Broadway shows, but many discounts are visible on New York Show Tickets site. They also list Lottery Tickets, Rush Tickets, and Standing Room Only Tickets.
How to get the best prices on Broadway show tickets?
If choosing a specific seat is important to you, and money is no object, you might as well order tickets directly from the venue.
However, if you’re looking for the cheapest tickets, your best bet is the same-day red-and-white TKTs booths in Times Square, Lincoln Center, and the South Street Seaport. You don’t even have to wait till the last minute. Next-day matinee tickets are available, in addition to same-day matinee and evening tickets.
TKTS is operated by the nonprofit Theatre Development Fund (TDF) which provides a membership subscription service online that lists discounted tickets as much as weeks in advance. There is an annual fee to join, but you must be a student, a teacher, a union member, a civil service employee, a nonprofit or performing arts organization employee, in the armed forces, full-time clergy, a retiree, or a freelancer.
Another option is to get a Broadway Show Discount Guide subscription ($4.95 for 30 days) for exclusive discounts on Broadway shows, but many discounts are visible on New York Show Tickets site. They also list Lottery Tickets, Rush Tickets, and Standing Room Only Tickets.
How to get Broadway tickets at a discount in New York?
Pick up a discount code on Playbill, TheaterMania, BroadwayBox, or New York Show Tickets and use it to buy tickets from the theater website (usually through an affiliated ticket vendor such as Telecharge or Ticketmaster.) If you’re in the city, save the online fees and use the discount codes at the theater box office.
How to Afford Broadway?
Don’t spend a cent. Use points from rewards programs to fund tickets. Telecharge makes it easy by showing American Express preferred seating on the seating chart, and it gives you the option of using your reward points at checkout.
What are rush tickets?
Wait until the day of the show when, in addition to the TKTs booths, discounted tickets can be purchased as Rush tickets.
These are usually available in the last hours before the show at the theater, and may only be available to students and seniors. Check the performance space website for details, and find out if the venue offers Standing Room Only tickets (sometimes even available for sold-out performances.)
Take A Chance On Off Broadway Shows
Don’t limit your search to just Broadway shows. By definition, an Off-Broadway theater is any performance venue in New York City that seats 100 to 499.
There are a lot of amazing performances in Manhattan at Off-Broadway theaters, and you might just luck out seeing a show that will eventually move on up to Broadway.
For even better savings, check the TDF’s Off-Off Broadway listings (available separately with a one-time fee of $5 or with TDF membership.)
A few select theaters offer backstage tours. When available, it’s a rare opportunity to meet actors, see the sets, and to learn what goes into producing these elaborate spectacles.
The only regularly scheduled backstage tour available to individuals is Behind The Emerald Curtain, a look at Wicked being performed at the Gershwin Theater. New Amsterdam Theater, home to Aladdin, makes a Behind The Magic tour available to groups. (They also offer Broadway Workshops.)
Additionally, theaters will occasionally offer backstage tours in charity drives or as a premium ticket option. Check theater websites for available information.
Finally, a few tour companies run Broadway Theater district walking tours. Check their websites for tour descriptions, prices, and availability:
Take a Broadway Show Home with You
The best souvenir from a Broadway Show is the memories that last a lifetime. But you can also drop a lot of moolah at theater gift shops.
One way to save money, and the expense of overweight luggage, is to shop online. Here are a few favorite items:
- Listen to the production over and over again. We love the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hamilton.
- Are there any singers in the house? Order the Show Lyrics. Into the Woods: Vocal Selections has easy-to-read sheets, plus articles and photos from Stephen Sondheim’s beloved classic.
- Read all about it in the Playbill Broadway Yearbook publication, At This Theater: 100 Years of Broadway Shows, Stories and Stars.
Plan a Weekend Getaway In New York City
If you’re going to see a Broadway show, you might as well make a weekend of it. Our New York City neighborhood travel guides cover all the best things to do, top restaurants, and our favorite hotels.
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- Central Park South: The New York City of the Movies
- Chelsea NYC: FIT, Flowers, Floating Gardens, Figures, and the Cool Cambria Hotel
- Madison Avenue Business District: A More Intimate Designer Shopping Experience Off 5th
- See the Real Stephan and Other Opportunities in Midtown Manhattan
- Downtown NYC: I’ll Take Lower Manhattan
- 24 Hours in DUMBO Brooklyn; a Brooklyn NYC Itinerary