broadway musicals

Broadway on a Budget: Six ways to score discount Broadway tickets

In case it isn’t clear by now, going to Broadway shows is by far my favorite activity, and the best part of living in New York City is the easy access I have to them. Physically, that is — the theaters are literally steps away from my apartment — but not financially. Broadway isn’t cheap… but it can be, if you know where to look. Here are my six favorite places to buy discount Broadway tickets, whether I’m looking to see a show in a few months, a few weeks, a few days — or even a few hours.

1. TodayTix is an app that I started using last year, and now it’s my #1 go-to for quick, cheap tickets and mobile lotteries. The app is very easy to use; if you’re looking to buy tickets for a show within seven days, and have a smartphone, this is the way to go. You order the tickets through the app, then pick them up from a TodayTix representative outside the box office a half hour before the show. Shows I’ve seen using TodayTix: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (with Michael C. Hall), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Fun Home, On the Town. Pros: Easy to use, excellent customer service, and a ridiculously good value. For an extra $20 off your first purchase (which could mean a free ticket in some cases), you can use my code: ZGYOD. Cons: You don’t get to pick your exact seats; you only get to select your section. In my personal experience, though, the seats have always been good. No complaints here.

2. Ticket Lotteries: If you’re willing to take a risk, a lottery is a good way to get last-minute tickets to popular shows. There are two kinds of lotteries: physical lotteries, in which you show up at the theater a few hours before the show and enter your name in a drawing, and mobile lotteries, which you can enter via TodayTix (see above). Either way, tickets will likely run you $20 to $40. The odds of winning a Broadway lottery vary from day to day and from show to show; for the best odds, try a weekday, or even a rainy day. And read my post on tips for winning, too! Shows I’ve seen through Broadway lotteries: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (with John Cameron Mitchell; second-row center seats!), Wicked (one of the harder lotteries to win, but the front-row seats are worth it!). Pros: Cheap tickets, and that feeling of elation when your name is called. Cons: That feeling of depression when your name isn’t called, and the fact that you can only win one or two tickets. If you’re hoping to see a show with more than one other person, lotteries might not be your best option.

3. General and Student Rushes: My favorite discount when I was in college! I loved student rushes, and fully took advantage of them. General rushes are also useful, though the discounts may be slightly less. To buy rush tickets, you just need to make sure the show has a rush policy, and show up early at the box office. Shows I’ve seen using Rush tickets: Way too many to count! Gypsy, Hairspray, Once, The 39 Steps… Pros: A good option for day-of tickets if you’re not willing to risk a lottery. Cons: The seats are typically up in the nosebleeds or partial view, all the way up front and to the side (so you miss half the stage); you may also find yourself waiting in line at the box office early in the morning if it’s a hot-ticket show.

4. HIPTIX and HIPTIX Gold: The Roundabout Theater Company is very kind to its younger fans, hoping to turn them into future patrons — which they do! At least, they did with me. The HIPTIX program allows theater-goers under 35 to purchase up to two mezzanine tickets for every Roundabout production for $25. (The purchaser has to be under 35; their guest can be any age.) For a $75 donation to Roundabout, you can become a HIPTIX Gold member, bumping those two tickets up to orchestra seats, still at only $25. Shows I’ve seen via HIPTIX: Cabaret, Into the Woods, The Real Thing, On the Twentieth Century. Pros: Great shows at an excellent price, and special offers and events like their extremely informative pre-show theater talks. Cons: Non-Gold HIPTIX can sell out fast, so you may find yourself buying the next available HIPTIX seats for a few months down the line, and this only applies to Roundabout productions — so, only a few a year.

5. 30 Under 30: Another great age-specific program, 30 Under 30 is exactly that: $30 tickets for theater-goers 30 and under. The program is part of the Manhattan Theatre Club. Though I haven’t purchased tickets through it yet, I’m amazed at the excellent offers that occasionally pop into my inbox just because I joined the mailing list. Just this last weekend, for instance, they shot out a 2-for-1 e-mail deal for Of Good Stock that I absolutely would have taken advantage of if I were in town. Pros: Good flash deals, and their post-show parties (who doesn’t love wine and cheese?). Cons: The age restriction, obviously, and access only to MTC productions, of which there may be few that a non-veteran theater-goer would recognize.

6. Standing Room Only (SROs): This is exactly what it sounds like. If a performance is sold out, some shows choose to offer standing spots, typically behind the back row of the orchestra. I’ve found these to cost in the range of $30. I haven’t purchased an SRO ticket, but speaking to friends who have, it sounds like a viable option if you’re willing to be patient and flexible. Pros: Access to hot-ticket shows you might not be able to afford otherwise, and the occasional run-in with someone associated with the production — a friend of mine was lucky enough to find herself standing next to Stephen Trask at an early Hedwig performance. Cons: You never know for sure if a show is going to sell out, so you may find yourself waiting in line all day only to be told no SRO tickets are available. Extra tip: A good idea here is to double down; while waiting on the SRO line, you can enter a ticket lottery. If you win the lottery, great! If not, you’ve still got a shot at SRO.

There are so many more programs, apps, sites, and discounts that I haven’t covered or yet tried. Broadway Roulette, for example, seems to be gaining some headway in the discount theater space; and sites like and often offer discounts that rival some of these options. And I didn’t even cover the Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS booths! Mostly because the thought of standing in line in the middle of Times Square for an hour gives me hives. But that’s another story.

What are your favorite discount tips? Feel free to share them, and your discount success stories, in the comments below. 


Tony Awards 2015: My Pre-show Picks

The 69th Annual Tony Awards will be held at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday. (Image from

The 69th Annual Tony Awards will be held at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday. (Image from

Entering a Tony Awards pool at your office? Need some help with your predictions? Want to place your trust in a complete stranger who only knows 50% of what she’s talking about? Great! Here are my picks for Sunday’s broadcast:

Best Play: Wolf Hall Parts One & Two
I am so out of my depth on anything that isn’t about musicals. I saw only two plays this year — The Real Thing, which isn’t nominated, and You Can’t Take It With You, which I didn’t enjoy — so my play picks are going to be mostly guesses. In this case, I feel like Wolf Hall has been on people’s minds lately, what with the TV show. Plus, this is two plays in one; it’s doubly impressive. I wouldn’t be too surprised or upset to see Curious Incident win this category, though.

Best Musical: Fun Home
Oh, this is difficult. An American in Paris was beautiful and is likely to take home an award or two, but I don’t think it will be the biggie. Something Rotten! is getting such good hype and really seems loved by the industry (aka, the voters). The Visit… eh. I’ve got to give it to Fun Home. It’s ground-breaking in a way Tony voters will want to acknowledge.

Best Revival of a Play: You Can’t Take It With You
Again, I’m out of my depth with plays, and again, I just didn’t love this. But people whose opinions I respect did. So maybe I’m just a dullard.

On the Town (Image from

On the Town (Image from

Best Revival of a Musical: ^On the Town
I had such low expectations for On the Town, but was unbelievably surprised how well executed it was. Good stuff, and deserving of a Tony. I’d probably give it a nod for choreography, too, if An American in Paris didn’t open this year. On the Twentieth Century doesn’t seem to have landed well, and The King and I is getting less press than I’d expect from such a big show.

Best Book of a Musical: Fun Home
I’ll be shocked if Fun Home doesn’t win here.

Best Original Score Written for the Theatre: Fun Home
…and here. (Though Something Rotten! might give it a run for its money.)

Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play: Ben Miles (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two)
This is such a guess. I just don’t see Tony voters giving a statue to Bradley Cooper.

Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play: Helen Mirren (The Audience)
I mean, come on. She plays the Queen of England. And she’s Helen Mirren.

Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical: Michael Cerveris (Fun Home)
The industry does love Brian d’Arcy James (as do I). But Cerveris needs to be recognized for this unique, passionate, and incredibly intricate performance.

(image from

Leanne Cope, An American in Paris (Image from

Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical: ^Leanne Cope (An American in Paris)
Okay, this is my long shot. Realistically, the award will probably go to Beth Malone. But, honestly, I didn’t even know if she’d be nominated for leading actress or featured actress. Her role has only a few good moments in a musical packed with many amazing moments. On the other hand, Leanne Cope’s grace and athleticism is something rare. She took a chance taking on a Broadway role, and thank goodness she did. I’d love to see her take home an honor. (Seriously, that 20-minute ballet sequence at the end? That alone was worth the ticket price.)

Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Play: Nathaniel Parker (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two)
::shakes fist:: Plays! I have no idea. Giving it to Wolf Hall again.

Best Actress in a Feature Role in a Play: Patricia Clarkson (The Elephant Man)
Love me some Patricia Clarkson.

Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Christian Borle (Something Rotten!)
Something Rotten! is definitely not going home with nothing. That said, it’s possible voters will split between Borle and Oscar. But then, I’d imagine they’d also split between An American in Paris‘ Uranowitz and von Essen. Realistically, I think Borle will take it. (I did enjoy Uranowitz’s performance, though. Crossing my fingers for him anyway.)

(Image from

Sydney Lucas, Fun Home (Image from

Best Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical: ^Sydney Lucas (Fun Home)
This category is probably the most talked about, with three Fun Home actresses nominated. But without a doubt, Sydney Lucas is the runaway winner here. Emily Skeggs was charming, and Judy Kuhn was masterful, but Lucas was memorable and, not to mention, adorable. I think Tony voters will want to see her up on that stage.

Best Scenic Design of a Play: Bunny Christie & Finn Ross (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)
Maybe? I don’t know. Probably Wolf Hall again.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Fun Home
If I had my way, An American in Paris would take this one home. But I don’t see that happening. Too much intricacy going on in Fun Home. Plus, everyone appreciates how well they transitioned from the Public to a theater in the round.

Best Costume Design of a Play: Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two)
Sure, why not?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Image from

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Image from

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Paule Constable (^The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)
My real reasoning? Erm. I was going to pick Natasha Katz here for Skylight, because the title of the show has the word “light” in it, but I think she’s got a good shot of winning in the Musicals category for An American in Paris, and I think people are unlikely to vote for her twice. This is a terrible reason, and I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s like picking the winner of the Super Bowl based on the color of their uniforms. Sorry. I’ll see myself out.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Natasha Katz (An American in Paris)
See above.

Best Direction of a Play: Jeremy Herrin (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two)
I’m counting on you, Wolf Hall.

Best Direction of a Musical: Sam Gold (Fun Home)

Best Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon (An American in Paris)
I was basically in awe the entire time. This seems like a hands-down win to me.

Best Orchestrations: Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky & Bill Elliott (An American in Paris)
Something Rotten! and Fun Home probably have a better chance, but these orchestrations were beautiful.

Fun Home: 7
Wolf Hall Parts One & Two: 5
An American in Paris: 4
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: 2
The Audience: 1
The Elephant Man: 1
On the Town: 1
Something Rotten!: 1
You Can’t Take It With You: 1

Final thoughts: Hmm. I think I might have been too kind to An American in Paris. More than likely, a few of those are going to be distributed to Fun Home (which could, realistically, sweep its categories) or Something Rotten! (which I’m surprised I only gave one award to here). Also… is it just me, or does the Tony lineup seem a little less exciting than in years past? I guess there’s always next year to look forward to — other than the fact that the Hamilton people are probably already having a trophy case specially designed to be big enough to hold all their wins. Wonder if Hamilton will perform on Sunday night…

In Conclusion: John Cameron Mitchell is getting a special award, so everything’s going to be all right.

JCM, you complete me. (Image from

JCM, you complete me. (Image from

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?