Tickets to Broadway Shows are expensive. Like airline tickets, what you pay for your seat will vary tremendously depending on how, where, and when you make your purchase.
The availability of discounts depends on the show’s ticket sales. Broadway producers (who fund the shows and call the shots) offer discounts to entice buyers for seats that aren’t selling. So, hit shows like Wicked or Book of Mormon won’t offer discounts, since they sell out and full price tickets are in high demand. Another factor is the season. Discounts are more scarce during “Awards Season” (May-early June), and Thanksgiving through New Years, when the city and theaters are packed with tourists.
For an idea of which shows are likely to offer discounts, check the Broadway League’s NYC Grosses page. The column %Cap (meaning Percentage Capacity) reveals how well a show’s tickets are selling. The lower the percentage number, the more likely discounts will be available.
Sources for Broadway discounts are…
Discount codes – using these codes can offer a big savings (sometimes as much as 50%). They can be used when buying tickets online or at the theater Box Office. Codes may have restrictions, i.e. not all performances or seat locations are available, and they’re valid for a specific time frame (usually three months), so read the fine print.
A great resource for discount codes is Broadwaybox.com. The NY theater websites Playbill.com, and Theatermania have free membership clubs that offer discount codes and a few exclusive offers (members receive email offers when new codes become available).
TKTS – the TKTS booth in Times Square is an institution, offering tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows at up to 50% off. All tickets are day-of-performance and the selection varies (each day, shows send over a batch of tickets based on sales for that day). Check the boards near the box office windows for the current selection (they go “live” 30 minutes before “the booth” opens). TKTS now offers a free mobile app with real-time listings of the shows available at the booth. Lines can be long, and selection is usually best when the booth opens.
There are two additional TKTS booths in NYC – at South Street Seaport and downtown Brooklyn. They offer the same day-of discounts, as well as discount matinee tickets the day before performance. Lines are significantly shorter at these booths.
TKTS Times Square – West 47th Street, between Broadway and Seventh Ave.
TKTS South Street Seaport – corner of Front and John Streets
TKTS Downtown Brooklyn – 1 Metrotech Plaza, at Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue.
Evening Performances – 3pm–8pm (Tuesdays @ 2pm)
Weds & Sat Matinees – 10am–2pm
Sun Matinees – 11am–3pm
TDF (the Theater Development Fund), who operates TKTS, offers a helpful flyer
Rush Tickets, Lotteries, and Standing-Room-Only – most shows offer inexpensive day-of-performance tickets. These tickets are generally for locations that wouldn’t sell at full prices (i.e. rows next to the stage, far sides, and rear mezzanine/balcony), but that’s the trade off for extreme discounts. For sold-out performances, these programs may be your only option for seeing the show. Like all ticket-related matters, each show sets its own policies.
Generally, Rush tickets go on sale when the box office opens (for hit shows, they go quickly, and lining up early is necessary) and each person can buy up to two. Many shows offer these tickets only to Students with valid ID. Many box offices only accept cash for Rush tickets.
Some shows offer discount tickets through a Lottery system. Names are entered on cards, and a drawing occurs a few hours before curtain (check the show’s website, since times vary). Each winner can purchase up to two tickets and must present valid ID.
Standing-Room-Only tickets are usually sold day-of-performance, only after a performance has sold out. An SRO ticket entitles one to stand at a numbered location (usually the back of the orchestra).
A great resource for these discount policies is Playbill.com. While their listing is updated regularly, it’s best to double-check the show’s website before heading to the theater.