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 TheaterMania.com and BroadwayBox.com 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 www.goldderby.com)

The 69th Annual Tony Awards will be held at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday. (Image from http://www.goldderby.com)

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 onthetownbroadway.com)

On the Town (Image from onthetownbroadway.com)

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 theatermania.com)

Leanne Cope, An American in Paris (Image from TheaterMania.com)

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 SydneyLucas.net)

Sydney Lucas, Fun Home (Image from SydneyLucas.net)

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 theatermania.com)

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Image from TheaterMania.com)

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 Broadway.com)

JCM, you complete me. (Image from Broadway.com)

Broadway Haikus

I am woefully behind in reviewing the shows I’ve seen. Woefully. A full write-up for each is overdue, but unlikely to happen. Therefore, to bring this blog back up to speed, I’ve crafted haikus instead. Which, in retrospect, probably took equally as much (if not more) time than writing full reviews. But… shuddup. Enjoy! And, if you’re up for the challenge, post your own Broadway-inspired haikus in the comments.

Be my best friend, Emma Stone.

[Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly]
This is a photo of me delivering my haikus at a recent spoken-word poetry slam. Kind of.

Cabaret (with Michelle Williams)
I had always thought
This was a fun, silly show
About showbiz. Wrong.

Cabaret (with Emma Stone)
Emma as Sally
Was an unexpected choice
But my, did it work.

Hedwig (with Andrew Rannells)
A noble effort
And a powerful voice, but…
I missed NPH.

You Can’t Take It With You
Something ’bout this one
Didn’t land with me. Oh well.
Sorry James Earl Jones.

Hedwig (with Michael C. Hall)
Oh, hey there Dexter.
While fans mob you at the door,
I’ll chat up Lena.


“Again?” Yes, again.
I bought tix online while drunk.
Don’t judge. No regrets.

The Real Thing
Ewan McGreggor’s
Extremely well-tailored pants
Kind of stole the show.

Into the Woods
The staging! The cast!
I so loved this performance.
‘specially the cow.


*Shameless plug: I recently wrote a bit about how seeing shows can take a sizable chunk out of my wallet. To combat this, I’ve started using the app TodayTix, and I’ve had nothing but good experiences with it. If you’re looking for discount tickets in the city, give it a try. For $20 off your first order, use my code: ZGYOD.

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.