There is something special about being in New York and on a whim deciding to pop over to Broadway on a rainy afternoon or weeknight to see a show- decadent, even! It is seriously one of my favorite solo New York city activities, and I have met all sorts of interesting people doing so.
However, unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for a ticket, this “popping over on a whim” is easier said than done. Here are all the ways I’ve managed to score last minute tickets without breaking the bank.
Show up at the box office the morning of the show.
This is the most straightforward option- you’ll avoid online ticket fees and can talk directly to the ticket master about what is left and what the best deal is at this point. In addition, some shows may have same day Rush Tickets available (more on that below). Just remember, they are only going to sell you what you ask for. I was once at the ticket office on a Friday and while there were only a few tickets left for that night’s show, I asked for him to go through the weekend options and he was able to sell me a leftover half price ticket for Saturday night instead!
Enter the Rush Ticket Lottery online.
Hamilton is the most famous show that offers this option, with a very limited number of $10 tickets sold to lucky lottery winners every performance. Crazy, right?? The link above will take you to a comprehensive list of who is currently offering rush tickets, and how to score them. The online lottery option sometimes requires you to download an app, and usually tells you the day before the performance if you’ve been selected. If you are a lucky winner, make sure to purchase as soon as you are notified- you usually only have a few hours to do so before the opportunity expires. Some shows let you sign up for the lottery weeks in advance,with the option to select multiple show times and whether you want 1 or 2 tickets.
Stand in line for same day Rush Tickets.
Some shows offer this in addition to the above online option, while others only sell Rush tickets at the box office the morning of the show. Your best chance of success is doing this on a day where there is a matinee and evening performance, as that means double the Rush ticket options. Just remember that if this is a new or popular show, you probably need to show up at least an hour before the box office opens and be prepared to stand in line. The general rule is the newer the show, the longer the line. You can buy up to 2 tickets per person and people are generally very gracious about one of you leaving the line and coming back for coffee runs, bathroom breaks, etc.
Google to see how “limited” that view actually is.
Sites like A View From My Seat show seat views by venue by allowing event goers to take a photo, upload it to the website, and provide a review. Theater goers are very generous with their reviews and descriptions, often describing exactly what you miss from that limited view. There are multiple times I’ve been unsure of purchasing a partial view ticket, checked for a review, and decided to go for it because someone has posted a photo and said “Missed maybe 5% of the action tops, definitely worth the deal!” Other times I have passed on a seat based on a photo or bad review,
Talk to the people sitting around you.
I have lucked out with this time and time again. Oftentimes when someone is coming into New York for a show, they see more than one, and therefore have stories of how they scored their other tickets. This is especially true if you are sitting in a section with other Rush ticket holders- these are often locals or college students who almost treat this like a sport! These sort of stories have helped me decide what is worth the wait and what my next ticket deal adventure will be!
Decide in advance how much time you are willing to commit to scoring a great ticket deal.
Standing in line for hours is not for everyone. Or if it is, maybe not every time. I stood in line for 3 + hours in the snow to score 2nd row seats to see Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in The Music Man on opening weekend and it was one of my best NYC days EVER. But as magical as that day was… it was basically my entire day, and that’s not always the best use of your time on a limited trip to New York. You decide what works for you- keep it fun! It’s Broadway, after all.