Theatre In New York: Insider Tips For Buying Tickets

Mar 26, 2011 | 2011 Articles, Books & Tales, Margaret Mendel, Travel

by Margaret Mendel

Visiting New York City? Want to see a Broadway production, an Off-Broadway or even an Off-Off-Broadway play? Here are a few tips that might help keep a bit more cash in your pocketbook when purchasing tickets.

TKTS is managed by the Theater Development Fund (TDF) and has discount theater ticket booths located in the Theater District and in NYC’s other five boroughs. The Manhattan booth is located at 47th Street and Broadway. These ticket booths offer only ‘same-day tickets’ for the major Broadway productions. If you are shopping for tickets at the TKTS booth, make sure you know the hours they’re selling tickets, and look carefully at the board posted to make sure the show you want to see is listed. If it is not listed, there’s no point in waiting in line. During the summer and the more popular tourist seasons in NYC, the lines at the booths can be quite long. Also, check carefully: while the discount on all TKTS booth tickets used to be 50%, for a few years now, each show has set its own discount amount, typically 20%-50%. Ask the prices when it’s your turn at the booth window. The TKTS booths now take credit cards in addition to cash, which is a great help for travelers and residents alike.

TDF has a website, and is a great secret weapon for out-of-town theater goers planning to visit NYC. For people in a number of professions, offers even cheaper discount tickets on their ‘members-only’ web site ticket application. For a nominal annual fee (with an even cheaper rate for out-of-towners!), the following people can join the online ticket program:
– Full-time students
– Full-time teachers
– Union members
– Retirees
– Civil service employees
– Staff members of not-for-profit organizations
– Performing arts professionals
– Members of the armed forces or clergy

The web site offers advance purchase of theater, music, dance and other special arts events. Tickets are even less expensive than at the TKTS booths, and you have the luxury of buying e-Tix to one or more events and then picking up your tickets a half hour before curtain time at the box office. While you won’t see the latest Broadway hits (they are rarely on TKTS either, after all!), you’ll find a broad selection of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and other New York-area arts events well worth your consideration. Listings are separated by theater, dance, music, etc. There’s even a special “$9” tab with Off-Off-Broadway listings. If you are a serious theater lover, it is a fantastic deal. And your membership helps keep the non-profit TDF operating. It’s a true win-win situation. Simply go to their website and click on the link for Membership to learn more and to join.

Here is a list of other web sites that offer discounted tickets for Broadway Theater goers:,,,,
and don’t forget also offers a handy iPhone app for the TKTS booths now, giving an up-to-date listing of the shows available at each booth’s location, so you can confirm from anywhere whether the show you want to see is available that day. For the serious theatre lover, it’s a must-have.

The last bit of advice I can give is that because the New York Theater scene is quieter in the months of January, February and March, you will probably get better prices during those three months. And remember, before purchasing tickets anywhere, make sure you do your homework about the show you are thinking about seeing, to make sure it’s appropriate for everyone in your group, and confirm the show times because not all shows start at 8 pm these days. It’s also usually easy to find reviews of productions online to help you decide if it sounds like the show for you.

Going to a Broadway production is a lot of fun, whether it’s a Broadway hit, an Off-Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway show, and when you get a discounted ticket, it’s a special added bonus. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Andrew Sellon for taking time out from his busy theater career to let me pick his brain about purchasing theater tickets in New York City.

Share some New York fun with Kingsburg High School’s Wind Ensemble on their recent trip there.

Margaret Mendel was born in San Jose and has a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of San Francisco & a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Currently residing in New York, she has had several short stories and articles published.

1 Comment

  1. Great list of discount ticket sites! I’m a native New Yorker and only had two of the 2 of the 5 sites provided.



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