Six tips for winning Broadway ticket lotteries

Update July 8, 2015: Everything in this post is still valid, but if you’re looking for additional information, check out my latest post on the topic: Broadway on a Budget: Six ways to score discount Broadway tickets

Update May 1, 2015: Because so many of you have asked for it, here’s an alternative to Broadway ticket lotteries: give the discount ticket app TodayTix a try. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with it. For $20 off your first order, use my code: ZGYOD. Okay, on to the blog post!

Being a lover of musical theatre living near NYC makes my wallet cry. Poor wallet. All it wants is to know what it’s like to not feel a devastating emptiness all the time. In an effort to prevent my wallet from going off the deep end, I’ve stopped buying full-price Broadway tickets and have started frequenting lotteries.

For those who haven’t heard of a Broadway lottery before, here’s the gist: Most of the shows on Broadway have a lottery system where you show up approximately 2-3 hours before the curtain and enter your name to win a pair of tickets. These tickets range from $20-$40 and can be anywhere in the theater — front, back, side, full view, partial view, box… Whatever the theater has left that day. The last pair of tickets in the Hedwig lottery, for instance, stick you in a box with the speaker system. (Here’s a tip: Bring earplugs.) The odds of winning a lottery change depending on how many tickets are available, and how many people enter the lottery for any given performance.

I’ve been searching for lottery tips online, and I’m not finding many. So, in the spirit of camaraderie, here are the top tips I’ve discovered in my Broadway lottery-going experience:

1. Plan your attack. This site is my personal favorite for lotteries because it gives you the full schedule, in chronological order. This way, you can run to a 4:30 lottery, then still make it to a 5:00 if you don’t win. If you’re planning to lottery-hop in case of emergency, be nice to the people around you at the first; chances are you’ll be seeing them again very soon.

2. Bring cash. Some shows take credit cards as payment for lottery tickets; others don’t. Come prepared with multiple forms of payment, including cash. You’ll also need to show at least one form of ID most of the time, so make sure to bring that along, too.

3. Single? Mingle. Pairing up with another single (each putting in for two tickets, and promising each other your extra if you win) doubles your chances at ending up with a seat. I like to accomplish the mingle by awkwardly holding up one finger at people who look lonely and shooting them my best pathetic puppy-dog eyes. Double win: You get a lottery partner AND a new best friend!

4. When it rains… Bad weather? You’ve got a much better chance at scoring a ticket, sheerly based on the fact that some potential lottery-goers aren’t going to want to stand outside in bad weather. Bring an umbrella, rain boots, and a change of clothes so you aren’t watching the show completely drenched. Snowstorm? Even better.

5. Don’t go for gold. The more popular the show, the less likely it is you’ll win tickets. That’s math. When attempting a lottery, your best bet is to go for a show that has been out for a while; your Wicked chances a fews years ago were slim, but now you may find them (slightly) less slim. Going right after the Tony’s is always rough. Of course, this piece of advice doesn’t apply when you have your heart set on a certain hot-ticket performance, in which case you’ll have to…

6. Prepare to wait it out. I know someone who entered the lottery for Book of Mormon every performance for six weeks before winning. Is that really worth it? Wouldn’t you have rather just coughed up money for pricey tickets earlier on and saved yourself hours, days even, of personal time? Maybe not. I’ll admit it: At the end of the day, it’s the luck of the draw. Just like in gambling, a true lottery-goer always expects to win on that next pull…

And, one bonus tip:

You think you’re smart because you’ve put your name in the lottery multiple times. You’re not. Rest assured, they do check for repeat entries in the two hours between the lottery drawing and the curtain going up. As the lottery host at Hedwig said on Saturday, “If your name is in here multiple times, I’m going to take your ticket away. And won’t that be sad? Oh, the shame.” Moral is, play fair.

Help a girl out: What are your Broadway lottery, rush, and SRO tips?

Advertisements

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart — Book Review (Spoiler Free)

wewereliarsbook.tumblr.com

wewereliarsbook.tumblr.com

The first time I read this book, I enjoyed it. It’s a very lyrical journey that feels carefully pieced together, though I wasn’t sure how the pieces were fitting. I decided to trust that it would all make sense eventually, and it did. Because, the ending.

Then I became one of those people that immediately went back to the beginning and started reading again. My second time through the book, my heart shattered. I couldn’t finish it.

And that’s all I have to can say about that.

Guest Review: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris

Seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch yesterday was an amazing, jaw-dropping experience, one that I plan to repeat sometime before the show ends its run in August. Neil Patrick Harris’s energy was kinetic, Lena Hall was outstanding, and really, heaps of credit should be given to the crew. But for a true in-depth review of this musical, I have to pass the metaphorical mike to someone who didn’t meet Hedwig for the first time on last night’s stage. That’s why I invited my theatre cohort and longtime Hedwig fan, Andrew Scott Taylor, to share his thoughts in this guest review.

All good thoughts and broken legs to cast and crew on their opening night! And with that, over to AST:

Hedwig on Broadway / Neil Patrick Harris

Last night, I had the sublime experience of attending the last night of previews for Hedwig and the Angry Inch with my partner in (musical) crime, Allie. For her, the experience was entirely new; she had purposefully avoided reviews and synopses. For me, it was a homecoming.

I was first introduced to Hedwig my freshman year of college and subsequently developed an obsession that consisted of memorizing the soundtrack, attending a college drag ball in my best Hed-wig and even timed a visit to Baltimore around a local production of the musical. Obviously, the story of how “some slip of a girly boy from communist East Berlin became the internationally ignored song stylist [Hedwig]” struck a chord with me.

When I heard that none other than Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) would be staring in a production on Broadway, the show naturally leapt to the top of my musical wish list queue. I was not disappointed.

Hedwig, from start to finish, is exhilarating, captivating and just downright fabulous. NPH truly embodies the role and his humor, charisma and talent shine through 30 pounds of pancake makeup and fake hair. (Oh my god, can we talk about the wigs?) The nuances of Hedwig’s character emerge in a beautiful and at times heartbreaking way before the audience. This is a credit not only to NPH’s performance but also to the book by John Cameron Mitchell (who also originated the role). Rarely does a character with such flare and style also get to express such vulnerability and dejection too.

Expertly teasing out Hedwig’s character (as well as literally teasing her hair) is Lena Hall, in the role of Yitzhak, Hedwig’s put-upon husband. Hall is a revelation — a show-stopping songstress with a difficult balancing act to play. Her quiet and soulful demeanor when she’s forced into the background is the perfect foil for Hedwig. And yet, the character also serves as a gendered mirror to Hedwig — talented, melancholy but presenting as male.

The production as a whole was performance personified. Yes, the wigs and costumes were flawless. But for the first time, I found myself checking the Playbill to find out who the Lighting Designer was (Kevin Adams) because in the more violent numbers (“Angry Inch,” “Exquisite Corpse”) the songs became visceral, sensory experiences embodying Hedwig’s anger and frustration. The softer songs from the soundtrack (“Origin of Love,” “Wicked Little Town”) just drove home how beautiful the music and lyrics by Stephen Trask are. The innovative incorporation of animation for the “Origin of Love” number left me with chills. By the end, as Hedwig/NPH encouraged the crowd to “lift up your hands” to “Midnight Radio,” something tangible had taken over the crowd, leading to a preemptive standing ovation that left me choked up.

The overwhelming sense of joy and uplift in the theatre was the most powerful takeaway of the evening. This is a show that, at its heart, explores the complex spectrums of gender and sexual identity. Seeing a crowd of theatregoers lovingly embrace a protagonist who was once considered controversial for straddling those spectrums was a deeply moving experience.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch opens with a limited engagement on April 22 (tonight!) at The Belasco Theatre (111 West 44th Street) under the direction of Michael Mayer.

Opening night of previews for “If/Then” on Broadway with Idina Menzel

If/Then on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater

I read in a New York Times piece about the pros and cons of Broadway previews that reviewers should withhold judgment until the true opening night. So much can change between the first night of previews and the first “real” performance of the show’s run. Some people take the near-guarantee of tweaks and changes as a reason not to see a show in previews — you’ll only want to see it again after it’s been frozen (no, not this Frozen) for opening night, to make sure you got the full experience. And who has the money for seeing a show twice? Honestly, I hardly have the money for seeing a show once.

But I’m still a huge supporter of attending previews, particularly the very first night. I can’t pretend to know how the cast feels, but from this audience member’s perspective, it feels like you’re all in it together, like you’re involved in the show’s process in a very real way, like you want everyone to succeed just as much as they do. It feels like you’re a part of the show’s history. The energy in a theater during previews is kinetic. I felt it when I saw opening night of previews for Singing in the Rain in London, and I felt it again on opening night of previews for Cinderella on Broadway.

That energy is amplified to some ridiculous power when the musical’s leading lady a) performed just days ago at the Oscars, b) has been all over social media lately, and c) is a Tony award-winning actress returning to the Broadway stage after nearly a decade. This is all to say, I couldn’t help myself buying a ticket to see the first night of previews for If/Then the Musical. And when I see a great show — cast, crew, and Emily Posts of theatre etiquette forgive me — I have to write about it, opening night of previews or not. I’ll try to be vague.

“If/Then” is something special, and I would definitely recommend seeing it. The cast is amazing: The applause Idina Menzel received after her sudden entrance was well earned. (The cheering went on for minutes, no exaggeration. Her opening line of “Hey, it’s me” was all too appropriate and apparent.) Anthony Rapp’s voice transports me back instantly to listening to the “Rent” soundtrack, and his character was like a perfect Mark Cohen in ten years (and in a parallel universe, maybe). And LaChanze, James Snyder, and Jason Tam — three performers I wasn’t familiar with before tonight — were incredible. Really incredible. The chorus members are also talented, and so versatile. As my friend rightly pointed out, there wasn’t one sour note. Beautiful staging and choreography.

When the show was on in Washington, DC, I read reviews that said the plot was too confusing, and difficult to follow. The Washington Post even called it a “winning blob, with many kinks to be worked out.” Both my friend and I had no trouble following the intersecting storylines at tonight’s performance; I’d be curious to know what “kinks” have been worked out, because the entire show seemed seamless.

I have a few qualms with the overall plot and how much exposition was given so quickly in the opening song — probably one of the “kinks” that was worked out, based on this New York Times article where the lead producer is quoted as saying that the first 20-25 minutes is where they think people suffered plot confusion in the DC tryout. I also feel strongly about one major event that takes place in the second act. But I’m not one for spoilers, and my concerns aren’t enough to prevent me from forcing all my friends and loved ones to go see the show. I mean, Idina Menzel sings this. Listen to it and tell me you don’t feel completely heart-bombed afterward. Go on. I’ll wait.

Actually, I won’t. For this tired theatre-goer, it’s time for bed. But if you see the show, if you want to see the show, or and especially if you saw the DC tryout and the Broadway run and can comment on the changes, then leave your thoughts in the comments. Until then, goodnight!

Sights and sounds of the New York Times Travel Show

The New York Times Travel Show is still bustling today at the Javits Center until 5:00 pm, with lots of sweepstakes, giveaways, performances, travel ideas, and free cheese (thanks, Vermont!). I worked the DK booth on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, talking to people about where they were planning to travel in 2014, and pinning their locations on a map.

Here's my pin on the Florida Keys, where Matt and I are headed in July. This was early in the show -- Cuba and the Keys were starting to fill up with travelers' pins by the time I left the show yesterday.

Here’s my pin on the Florida Keys, where Matt and I are headed in July. This was early in the show — Cuba and the Keys were starting to fill up with travelers’ pins by the time I left the show yesterday.

My coworker pins our planned business trip to Vegas for the ALA summer conference.

Jules pins our planned business trip to Vegas for the ALA summer conference.

By the end of my shift on Saturday, Europe was the clear winner. Lots of people are headed to Italy and the UK.

By the end of my shift on Saturday, Europe was the clear winner. Lots of people are headed to Italy and the UK.

My favorite part about being an exhibitor at the travel show is talking to people about where they’ve traveled. One man lamented that he couldn’t place his pin in our map because he was going to the South Pole on a government expedition — he ended up putting his pin just under the map, which led to fantastic conversations with anyone who I saw looking at it, puzzled. Kids stopped by with their parents to pin where they were going on vacation (everywhere from Aruba to Australia to Cape Verde), then stopped by later in the show to make sure their pin was still there.

When I did get to wander around as a consumer, I was both surprised and thrilled at the level of engagement the booths are providing this year. There’s a silent auction for charity, lots of food and drinks, even a rock wall for the kids to climb in the adventure section. Here’s a sampling of the sights and sounds of the show:

A man carving a sand castle at the Atlantic City booth

A man carving a sandcastle at the Atlantic City booth. Just before I saw him doing this, he had stopped by the DK booth looking for chocolate, prompting the only time in my life I will ever say the sentence, “The chocolate man is carving a sandcastle in Atlantic City.”

The Mexico booth hosted a mariachi band on Friday evening.

The Mexico booth hosted a mariachi band on Friday evening which gathered a good crowd.

And speaking of music, there was a steel-drum band at the St. Kitts booth right behind DK on Saturday, which led to some unintended dancing on my part…

I love the vibrancy of this show, and all the traveling it inspires.

A brightly colored pillar at the South Africa booth caught my eye from across the pavilion.

A brightly colored pillar at the South Africa booth caught my eye from across the pavilion.

Another shot from the DK booth, this time of the jacket image on our Rough Guide to Central America.

Another shot from the DK booth, this time of the jacket image on our Rough Guide to Central America.

This guy was hanging out at China's booth...

This guy was hanging out at China’s booth…

...probably planning to grab after-show drinks with his much-photographed cohort over in the Arctic.

…probably planning to grab after-show drinks with his much-photographed cohort over in the Arctic.

This gentleman from South Korea and I danced a bit on Saturday afternoon.

My new friend from South Korea and I danced a bit on Saturday afternoon.

I hope this woman nonchalantly running from a flamingo swarm at the Bahamas booth was able to escape.

I hope this woman running from a flamingo swarm at the Bahamas booth was able to escape.

And, of course, my favorite view from the Javits at the end of a long day of work…

The outside world!

The outside world!

Bridesmaids brunch and mason jars

My six bridesmaids live in four different states, so it was a pretty amazing feat for us all to gather today for brunch and dress shopping. With over a year to go until the big day, it’s a little early to actually place orders — but the ogling and trying-on of dresses is (more than) half the fun. I had a perfect, wonderful day with six of my favorite girls, and it was sunny and warm! Couldn’t ask for more.

I made a small gift for each bridesmaid: a simple mason jar with candy and name tag. They were a lot of fun to make, and a good first DIY project to ease myself into the crafting I’m hoping to do for the big day. I bought the mason jars and candy at ShopRite, and the paper and rubber stamps I bought last week at Paper Presentations. I had the gold ribbon on hand. Here are some photos:

First I cut paper hearts out of metallic paper and rubber-stamped (love those rubber stamps) on each girl's name. Filter used here to show how nice and sparkly they are.

First I stenciled and cut paper hearts out of metallic paper and rubber-stamped each girl’s name. Filter used here to show how nice and sparkly they are.

I glue-sticked (glue-stuck?) confetti stars in our accent colors on either side of each name, then hole-punched the top left and strung a ribbon through.

I glue-sticked (glue-stuck?) confetti stars in our accent colors on either side of each name, then hole-punched the top left and strung a ribbon through.

Here's another angle where you can see how I tied them to the mason jars. I curled the end of the ribbon, and filled the jar with blue and cold candy.

Here’s another angle where you can see how I tied them to the mason jars. I curled the end of the ribbon, and filled the jar with blue and gold candy.

If I could do it again, I'd probably have punched the hole further up on the heart, so they hung a little straighter. But here's the whole bunch!

If I could do it again, I’d probably have punched the hole further up on the heart, so they hung a little straighter.

Happy mason-jar-holding bridesmaids!

Happy mason-jar-holding bridesmaids!

A simple project, but fun and pretty easy to do. I hope the girls enjoy them. Thanks again for a lovely day, ladies!

*Update: I forgot to mention that I purchased the rubber alphabet stamps after reading an article in the Australian magazine Modern Wedding DIY. The magazine is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The stamps were featured as one of the seven DIY basic essentials every crafting bride should buy. Seeing how fantastic the stamped projects are turning out, I’m definitely going out to buy the other six this week.

President’s Day at Paper Presentation

I’m kind of obsessed with paper, probably more than your average human. I buy more stationary than I need and more journals than I could ever fill up. I’ve bought designer, $8.50 birthday cards — and never sent them, because I didn’t want to part with them. Really. I still have them. And you have the 99-cent flimsy Hallmark card. Sorry about that.

If I were craftier or more artistically inclined, I’d probably take up scrapbooking or paper craft or letterpress or collage. But “crafty” isn’t my middle name, unfortunately. (It’s Lynn.) So I buy paper products because they’re pretty, because they feel nice, because I like them. Sometimes I write on them. Sometimes I don’t.

I’m sounding a little creepily Gollum-esque about paper, so I’ll get to the lede: Matt and I went to the paper store today. It was oh-so-nice.

Field trip to: Paper Presentation
Objective: Pick out wedding colors and buy a set of rubber alphabet stamps
Mission: Complete!

So many colors, and this is only a sampling... Looking at these envelopes makes me want to send a letter.

So many colors, and this is only a sampling… Looking at these envelopes makes me want to send a letter.

Color-coded storage containers, too? Now this is exciting! (I think I have a problem.)

Color-coded storage containers, too? Now this is exciting! …I think I have a problem.

Playing with my lowercase alphabet stamps when we got home -- they work!

Playing with my lowercase alphabet stamps when we got home — they work!

And the main objective of the trip was to find paper that would match our imagined wedding colors (green, blue, yellow). Matt was a really good sport about the whole thing — he doesn’t feel quite as strongly about the differences between aqua, aquamarine, and Bermuda blue as I do, but when we landed on our final combination, even he couldn’t help gasping in awe* at its beauty!

(*I may be exaggerating a bit.)

Green, blue, and yellow -- or, to be more precise, metallic botanic, Bermuda, and soleil.

Green, blue, and yellow — or, to be more precise, metallic botanic, Bermuda, and soleil.

A productive day, a fun trip, and a final decision* on the wedding shades! Abe and George would be proud. Happy President’s Day, y’all.

(*Final, meaning there’s 98% chance I’ve changed my mind by the time you read this.)