Theater doesn’t have to be crazy expensive.
Whether you’re visiting New York or you live here full-time, this is your guide to seeing more theater. No, there isn’t a secret trick to instantly acquiring affordable tickets to Hamilton, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on seeing it or any number of the great shows currently on and off Broadway. If you’ve ever wondered how some of your friends manage to see everything without going totally broke, they’re either preposterously wealthy or they employ the following methods to acquire tickets that won’t break the bank.
So, check out the listings of current Broadway and off-Broadway shows — or prepare for something down the line with Playbill‘s guide to what’s coming on the Great White Way or beyond — and then get to saving.
Buy rush tickets.
Rush tickets are sold day of and you have to be willing to stand (or sit) in line, but they offer some of the best seats at the lowest prices. It’s pretty simple: You just go to the box office of the theater for the show you want to see when it opens (usually 10 a.m., but contact the box office in advance to be sure) and buy one of the limited discounted tickets available for that day’s performance. The bad news is you won’t be the only person to have this brilliant idea, so you’re going to want to show up early to ensure you snag one. When Rent — which introduced the concept of rush tickets — was at the height of its popularity, people camped out on the street. Those tickets were $20, and you’re unlikely to find anything that inexpensive now, but most rush tickets are in the $30 to $40 range. (Be advised that some shows do student rush only, which means you actually need to be a student. And if that’s you, bring your ID!)
Buy SRO tickets.
SRO stands for “standing room only,” so ask yourself: Am I willing to stand for upwards of two and a half hours? If you are, congratulations, SRO may be the best option for you! These tickets tend to be slightly cheaper than rush, though different shows have different policies (and many don’t do SRO at all, so be sure to call the box office in advance). The catch here is that, for the most part, SRO tickets are only sold if the show is totally sold out. (Otherwise they want you to just buy a normal ticket.) You are often limited to one SRO ticket per person, so again, check the individual show’s policy.
If you’ve entered and lost the Hamilton lottery 200 times in a row, you a) are not alone, and b) probably have a skewed view of how hard it is to win a Broadway lottery. Naturally, it depends on the show and how popular it is — and if you can enter online, because people are a lot more likely to do something that doesn’t require actually showing up. Some shows only let you enter the lottery on the day of, while others will let you submit for several dates at once. These tickets are also in the $30 to $40 range, and they’re even more of a crapshoot than rush. However, many shows will offer you discount tickets if you don’t win the lottery, so you could still be getting a reasonable deal. Plus, the thrill of winning undercuts the fact that, even with a discount, you’re throwing down a not insignificant $80 for a pair of tickets.