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How to get cheap Broadway tickets in five easy steps

Don’t get ripped off! Cheap Broadway tickets for New York shows are a reality online, in line and elsewhere.

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/justininsd

There's no shortage of things worth seeing on Broadway or Off Broadway these days. But the steady rise in ticket prices has made it harder for theater lovers to take advantage of what may be a new golden age of Broadway. The situation is not as dire as it seems, though: Discount Broadway tickets are everywhere, and modern technology makes it easier than ever to find cheap seats. If you play your cards right, you can even find them for sold-out smashes like Hamilton and Wicked. Here are the five best ways to score some cheap Broadway tickets.

How to get cheap Broadway tickets

Head to TKTS

The classic way to find deeply discounted tickets is to wait in line, on the day of the show, at Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS Booth under the red steps in Duffy Square (47th Street and Broadway). All but the biggest Broadway hits are on sale there, mostly at 50 percent off. Download the TKTS app or visit its website to see what is available. You can also try the downtown TKTS booth at South Street Seaport (corner of Front and John Streets) or TKTS Downtown Brooklyn (One MetroTech Center at the corner of Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue), which sell matinee tickets a day early. If you are not looking to see a musical, the Times Square booth has a "Play Only" window that may cut down your wait time.

Shop online

Great a resource as it is, TKTS has limitations: You have to wait there in person, often for a long time, and you can only get tickets on the day of the show. Thankfully, the Internet provides many options for those who want to plan a little further ahead. The handy TodayTix app lets you find discounted tickets on your mobile phone, up to week in advance. Another reliable online source for cheap tickets is nytix.com; membership costs just $4 per month. Good discount codes can be also be found at BroadwayBoxBroadway Insider and Entertainment-Link. If you’re looking to combine a little generosity with your thrift, try Givenik; when you buy full-price or discounted tickets there, 5 percent of the price goes to a charity of your choice. You can even find some discount deals right here on Time Out New York's website. Consider visiting all of these sites and shopping around for the best bargain.

Rush the theater or play the lottery

Same-day rush tickets to Broadway and Off Broadway shows can sell for as little as $25 apiece. Go to the theater's box office as soon as it opens on the day of the performance to check; if you don’t mind being on your feet, you can also try for standing-room tickets. In many cases—including at some of Broadway's biggest smashes, such as The Book of Mormon and Wicked—a handful of day-of-show tickets are distributed by lottery, with names drawn at the box office a few hours before curtain time. (Hamilton has made the distribution of these tickets an event unto itself, with cast members often entertaining the crowds.) Several shows, like The Lion King, conduct these lotteries digitally, either on their own or through the TodayTix app. To find out which shows offer rush tickets and lotteries, consult Playbill's Broadway and Off Broadway guides.

Become a member

For $30, if you're eligible, you can get an annual membership to TDF, which lets you use ticket deals days or weeks before the show. TDF also lets you see Off-Off Broadway shows for just $9 through its OffOff@9 program. Most of the city's major theater companies offer membership packages. You pay a fee up front (say, $65) in return for discounted tickets all year; what's more, you get the chance to buy tickets before they go on sale to the general public, which can be a big deal when it comes to shows with a lot of advance buzz. And membership often has other privileges as well, like the 20 percent food-and-drink discount you get at Joe's Pub when you belong to the Public Theater. The trick is to pick companies that showcase consistently strong work, such as Playwrights HorizonsNew York Theatre WorkshopAtlantic Theater Company or Ars Nova.

Be a young person

The city’s biggest nonprofit theaters all have programs aimed at encouraging younger audiences. Theatergoers ages 18 to 35 can buy tickets to Roundabout Theatre Company for just $20 to $25 per show by joining its Hiptix program. If you're between 21 and 35, you can join Lincoln Center Theater's LincTix program, which offers $32 tickets to all shows. Manhattan Theatre Club’s 30 Under 30 program, as the name suggests, allows patrons 30 or younger to buy tickets for $30. Other major companies, such as Playwrights Horizons, also offer programs for young theatergoers.

Students have access to many special discounts to Broadway and Off Broadway productions. Among the best resources to find them are Tix4Students.com and StudentRush.org. Librarians, teachers and students can pick up vouchers for 30 to 50 percent off through the School Theatre Ticket Program at schooltix.com, and student ages 13 to 18 can buy $5 tickets to many Off and Off-Off Broadway productions through High 5 Tickets to the Arts.