Things I thought I’d never say: Theater tickets are cheap.

Back in my early high school years, before the Gods of the Theater had really taken hold of my soul, I was a sports nut.

And I used to look forward to this one time of year when all the major pro sports overlapped.  It’s a sweet spot of the fall when baseball is just wrapping up, basketball and the NHL are just beginning, and football is well underway.  Oh, and there’s always golf.  🙂

The same sort of thing happens every fall on and off Broadway with a series of overlapping promotions that give you a chance to see a ton of shows, for, dare I say it, cheap.

Why this time of year?  Well, the early fall is one of the most challenging times of the year for Broadway shows, Off Broadway shows, circuses and anything in NYC that depends on tourists or locals.  You see, our summer vacationing friends have packed up their suitcases full of “I Love NY” T-shirts and have gone back to Wichita and Wyoming, and the NYers, who are just getting back from the Hamptons, and too busy getting the kids off to school to see shows.

And that’s why the theater community offers major incentives for you to come out and buy a ticket.

So, if paying Full Price scares you, here are four ways you can save:

1.  BROADWAY WEEK

Broadway Week offers 2 for 1 tickets (also known as 50% off – without having to wait in line at the booth) to participating Broadway shows including some big hits like Wicked and Jersey Boys.  I’m always surprised at the number of participants this promotion gets.  Broadway Week runs September 1-14. Visit www.nycgo.com/broadwayweek for more info and a list of participating shows.

2.  20at20

This one is close to my heart . . . and my wallet.  I was one of the founders of the 20at20 promotion, and it has helped put a bunch of bucks and a nice spotlight on Off Broadway at a time when it really needs it.  How it works is that for 20 days, you can get $20 tickets to over 20 shows . . . all that you have to do is show up 20 minutes before curtain.  The promo runs September 9-28. Visit www.20at20.com for more information and a list of participating shows.  And did I mention the shows are only $20????  Hard to say theater tickets are expensive when you can see world class theater for a little bit more than a movie . . . or 3 Venti Frappuv.

3.  SEASON OF SAVINGS

Season of Savings was created back in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks as an “SOS” for Broadway.  If you weren’t around the city at that time, I’m sure you can imagine that not a lot of people were looking to take in a few dancing girls at a show.  It was a tough time.  Thus, Season of Savings was born!  It was so successful, that it stuck, and is now held twice a year – in the cold, dark, winter, and right now!  Season of Savings is a catalog of discounts to almost every show on Broadway (You can see Cabaret for as low as $47 or On The Town for $37!).  For a list of participating shows, visit www.SeasonOfSavings.com.

Oh, and don’t forget this bonus way to save . . .

4.  THE GOOD OL’ TKTS BOOTH

There’s nothing worse than standing in line for hours at the TKTS booth,waiting to see if you can get to the front before the show you want to see is sold out and goes “off the board.”  In the fall, the lines are super short, and because shows have more inventory, you can find almost everything for 50% off  . . . and I’m not talking just second balcony seats!  So when I have people coming to town in the fall, I tell them to first download my “At The Booth” App so you can see what’s for sale without trudging to Times Square (duh) and then head over closer to curtain when there’s no line, and have your pick.

 

One of the easiest excuses you can make for not seeing theater is that the tickets are expensive.  And there is no question that they are.   And in my opinion, they should be.  But not all the time.  Sure, you may not be able to get Book of Mormon tickets for 80% off this week, or see Wicked in the 2nd row for even 50% off.  But thanks to the above promos in this sweet spot of September, you can see great, new, theater for as little as $20.  So put down the $5 Starbucks a few times this month, and go see a show or two.  Because one things is for sure, they don’t stay this cheap forever.

 

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Comments
  • Carvanpool says:

    The down side is how these promotions, necessary because of the destructive pricing of Broadway tickets, further inculcates the culture of discounts in the minds of theater goers.

    Leave it to the producers to wean folks off of full price tickets. Short term and selfish policies like these hurts Broadway’s long term prospects more than anything else.

    Maybe a trade group, concerned with long term goals and policies that would help the industry in the long term would be in everyone’s interest….

    Nah. This is Broadway.

    • Michael C says:

      When you review actual revenue vs potential revenue and then look at audience count it’s very clear that many show are filling seats but not coffers. A show filling 80% of the seats but bringing in less than 50% of the potential is over discounting OR full price tickets are incorrectly priced. I’m all for discounting but I think too many productions are devaluing their true worth by relying on such frequent and deep discounting.

  • A Contrarian says:

    Big hits should charge as much as they can, but smaller struggling shows should discount way below current levels. Even TDF prices are too high. I think you should be able to get into a few low-demand productions for a $20 bill — including any/all fees. If you ask me…

  • Michael C says:

    When suggesting TKTS I always recommend one (or both) of the alternate sites. Both South Street Seaport & Downtown Brooklyn are easy using the subway, both open daily at 11 AM (hours before Times Square) and I’ve never had more then 10 people in line ahead of me regardless of the time I’ve gone (frequently I can just walk right up to the window). Same shows, same great deals and same seats being offered – biggest bonus of all is you can purchase matinee tickets the day before (you cannot do that at Times Square booth). So if you go on Tuesday you can get a show for that evening and also pick up wednesday matinee tickets in a single trip. The TKTS has the location, hours and directions (subway lines and correct stop) so it’s easy, you won’t spend hours in line (like Times Square) and you’ll have the rest of the day to enjoy the city.

  • Interesting that you bring up ticket prices.
    i went on line to “scout” tickets for “Love Letters” which starts in late September with a rotating cast .
    I would like to see Martin Sheen and Anjelica Houston coming in January in this small show…. this is a “play” (a reading?) with no sets, costumes, production values, and only two players who don’t have to memorize lines, they read the letters.
    They are asking – FOR UPPER MEZZANINE SEATS – a whooping $150!
    I didn’t even look at orchestra prices for this production.
    Go figure.
    Questions, comments?

  • Traveler says:

    Broadway tickets are the most expensive part of our holiday whenever visiting New York, the producers must think that all of us visiting NYC earn as much as those living in New York City, SURPRISE — we don’t!! I’d love to be able to take my family to see a couple of shows every time we visit but it’s just not possible to stand in a line at TKTS for a couple of hours in hope of getting to see the show of choice, especially when our time is limited in the city. Secondly, these promotions if they are truly promotions should be valid all year long, not just during the lull times so all ban benefit. Finally, the expense is prohibitive…

    • Michael C says:

      Check the two alternate TKTS booths (South Street Seaport & Downtown Brooklyn which is my favorite) – virtually no line and exactly the same ticket offers (see my full information above or check it out on the TKTS website). Also, there are at least a dozen Broadway related websites where you can purchase advance tickets (some times months in advance) for almost everything currently playing (not the biggest hits – Lion King, Wicked, Book of Mormon, Matilda, etc.) but almost everything else. Find the website and sign up for the email list (again, FREE) and I guarantee you’ll get lots of very good discount offers. Most of the website allow you to print out the offer and simply take it to the box office if you are hesitate to purchase tickets in advance – but sometimes the quantity of discount tickets is limited so once you get to NYC you should take the printed offer to the theater to make sure you aren’t disappointed. Do NOT buy from a broker it will cost you an arm and a leg. The Playbill site has ticket discounts (you have to join but it FREE) as does Broadway.com and many many more. Many of the tickets they offer are rear mezzanine or balcony and some start as low as $39 … Broadway theaters are small compared to many of the theaters across the country where touring shows play so even rear balcony (where I’ve sat many times) have a very good view and for musicals you get a panoramic view of the stage. My last trip was 6 days, 10 shows and the most expensive ticket was $69 for “Aladdin” while in previews. The discounts and bargains are there if you look around online before your trip and, unless you have to see the current hot show, you have a number of choices that can provide a fairly reasonable family theatre outing.

  • Elizabeth Ruddell says:

    I just downloaded your app!

  • Kay S. says:

    Thank you Ken !
    Not part of the thread, but..just saw “It’s only a play”.
    The funniest thing ever. Nathan Lane has to be Gods gift to theatre. Even though I am a woman of a certain age, AND part of a matinee preview performance audience,(as divinely skewered by Stockyard Channing) we all laughed to tears.
    Thank you so much.

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