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Discount Broadway Tickets, Last Minute: A How-To Guide

Category Broadway

|by Mikey Miller |

Here’s how to score great deals on same-day Broadway tickets

Find yourself in Midtown Manhattan with nothing to do? Decided to see a Broadway show on a whim, and you need to figure out how to score some cheap tickets? Enjoying a show on the Great White Way doesn’t have to break the bank, and it also doesn’t have to be an activity that’s been planned in advance, really at all. From scoping out TKTS Broadway to Broadway lottery options, where to get half-price Broadway tickets and more, here is our guide to getting great deals when buying Broadway tickets the day of the show.

Catch a Broadway show for less on your next NYC trip with our tips (Photo: iStock)

Catch a Broadway show for less on your next NYC trip with our tips (Photo: iStock)

Rush tickets began with the original Broadway production of Rent back in 1996. People who wanted to see the show would line up outside of the Nederlander Theater, and those who arrived early enough could purchase $20 tickets to be seated in the first two rows of the center orchestra. And often, Rent-heads would camp outside of the theater in order to ensure they could snag a coveted seat. (Rent and rush tickets helped encourage younger people to begin seeing Broadway theatre again, but that’s a story for a different time.)

These days, you don’t normally have to spend the night in the Theatre District to purchase a rush ticket, but many Broadway shows will offer same-day at incredibly discounted prices. All you have to do is show up to the box office the day of the show, but make sure you’re there early enough – rush tickets for popular shows sell out quickly. (However, this writer has scored front-row rush seats to a couple Broadway musicals with less than 10 minutes to spare prior to curtain). Rush tickets usually fall in the range of $30 to $50, depending on the show, and you can purchase up to two tickets per person.

Many Broadway shows will also allow you to enter a lottery for inexpensive tickets, with prices ranging from $10 (just for Hamilton, considering its namesake is on the $10 bill) to about $50. Most lotteries are now run electronically, so you can play for your chance to win these affordable tickets from the comfort of your own home, workplace, or wherever you may be. And if you win the lottery, you are under absolutely no commitment to purchase the tickets.

If you want to enter the lottery for a specific show, you want to be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific timeframe of the lottery. You can enter (and win) some lotteries the day of the performance, but some make you enter at least a day or two in advance--to give you a little time to arrange your schedule and find a buddy with whom to see the show. Sometimes, shows will have in-person lotteries, and at the time of this article’s original publication, Wicked is the only show on Broadway to have one.

If you don’t mind not having a chair to yourself, then you can try standing room only, more commonly known by its abbreviation, SRO, which is perhaps the cheapest way to enjoy a Broadway show. SRO tickets are sold day-of at box offices when the entire house is sold out, and you can see the show by standing right behind the last row of the orchestra. These “seats” (or rather, lack thereof) are often sold at a price less than $30. Make sure you keep the runtime of the show you want to see in mind, though, when you purchase an SRO ticket. You want to ensure that you’ll actually be able to be on your feet for that long.

TKTS Broadway
You’re probably familiar with those red stairs right in Times Square. You might not know, though, that on the other side of the stairs (facing 47th Street) is the TKTS Booth, where you can score some excellent discounted tickets. TKTS exclusively sells discount tickets, and you can snag them at 20% to 50% off face value. If you don’t want to brave the crowds of Times Square, you can always travel to one of TKTS’s other locations (though they are less iconic and obviously nowhere near as central to the Theatre District) at Lincoln Center and the South Street Seaport.

When it comes to securing last-minute discount Broadway tickets for which you won’t have to brave the cold, wait in line, stand for the entire show, or run the risk of not winning a lottery, ShowTickets has you covered, with tons of same-deal ticket deals on the hottest Broadway shows. Save up to 40% on shows like Frozen, Chicago, Dear Evan Hansen, The Phantom of the Opera and more today.

For more of the best of New York this season, check out our list of the 15 Most Highly Anticipated Broadway Shows of 2020

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