8 Hacks for Snagging Cheap Tickets to the Hottest Broadway Shows

Watch new and institutional productions at a fraction of the cost.

TKTS Discount Booth
TKTS Discount Booth | saaton/Shutterstock
TKTS Discount Booth | saaton/Shutterstock

Broadway is back—and so are its expensive tickets. But what if we told you that it’s totally possible to see Broadway shows without breaking the bank? While a ticket to the best theater the world has to offer could set you back hundreds, we’ve got tips and tricks to make a seat at every show fit your budget.

With strict COVID safety protocols—all audience members must be vaccinated and remain masked throughout the performance—The Great White Way is doing all that it can to create a safe environment for theatergoers. So whether it’s through Broadway Week (offering 2-for-1 tickets until February 13) or the eight tips below, catch a show while supporting one of NYC’s most iconic cultural institutions. We’ve also got details on the best Broadway shows to watch right now, and for all of your pre- and post-show dining needs, here are the best restaurants within the Theater District.

Information listed here may be subject to change depending on the developing situation with COVID-19's Omicron variant. Please check for the latest updates available or contact each establishment directly for more info.
Six the Musical, Broadway marquee
RockinWorks Creative/Shutterstock

Line up at the box office for same-day or standing room tickets

Most Broadway shows have a select number of same-day tickets available for around $30-$40 that are only available in-person when the box office opens. While rush tickets won’t always get you the best views, they’ll still have you at some of the hottest productions out, and this tip is a foolproof, tried-and-true method for last-minute and affordable seats. Alternatively, if you’re able to lean for a few hours, standing room only (SRO) is typically located just behind the last row of the orchestra and can provide a great view for much cheaper than craning your neck in the nosebleeds. The rush and SRO policies are dependent on each show, so we recommend calling box offices ahead of time for availability and when to start lining up. Be warned: lines for rush and SRO tickets for new and popular shows tend to start forming at the crack of dawn.

Second Stage Theater
Second Stage Theater

Sign up for a 18-40 year old discounted ticket program

Lincoln Center, Roundabout Theater Company, and Manhattan Theatre Club each produce some of the best shows on Broadway, and they want you to see them. If anyone in the range of 18-40 years old, joining these free programs can unlock affordable tickets without having to try your luck in a lottery or schlep to the box office: Lincoln Center's LincTix offers $32 tickets for 21-35 year olds; Roundabout's HipTix offers $30 tickets for 18-40 year olds; and MTC's 30 under 35 offers $30 tickets to anyone under 35. For similarly fantastic Off-Broadway shows, choose from Second Stage and Playwrights Horizons.

Purchase rush tickets from anywhere

In addition to in-person rush, some shows offer digital rush tickets on platforms like TodayTix. The gist is the same as in-person rush: you can get a ticket the day of the show as soon as digital rush opens, so you’ll have to beat other excited prospective audience members to the punch. But at least you can do this one from bed! Check out Playbill’s complete guide to rush policies to find out which of the shows on your list you can digitally rush.

Try your luck at digital lotteries

Not all, but many Broadway shows offer some form of digital lottery with platforms like TodayTix and BroadwayDirect. Similar to rush tickets, each show has their own policy with options like winning a same-day ticket, seat for tomorrow’s show, or sometimes you can enter in one big batch for the week ahead. Some shows set aside a certain amount of tickets for the digital lottery, and others use it as a way to offload remaining seats, meaning whether there will even be a lottery on a certain day can be hard to predict. Lotteries are more of a long-game option to get a ticket to that one show you’ve been waiting for–check out this guide for which productions offer a digital lottery.

The Lion King ticket
The Lion King ticket | Rachel Moon/Shutterstock

Snag last-minute resale tickets

This one is risky, but it can pay off big-time. If you've got a free day, a slightly looser budget, and crave an adrenaline rush, here’s your gameplan: 1. Choose if a show has tickets up for resale on websites like StubHub or SeatGeek. 2. Obsessively refresh. 3. Head towards Times Square while constantly still refreshing—as showtime gets closer, you’ll see prices slowly go down. 4. About an hour before curtains go up, prices update faster. When they get to an amount that works for you, smash that buy button! If you’re really craving some adrenaline, you can even wait until 10-15 minutes before showtime. 5. Sprint to the theater! While we can’t say this method is a 100% sure thing, it can result in some of the most surprising, affordable, and story-worthy theater experiences.

TKTS Discount Booth
TKTS Discount Booth | lev radin/Shutterstock

Roll up to a TKTS booth

If you’ve ever been to Times Square, chances are you know about the TKTS Discount Booth under the red glass steps on Broadway and 47th. That’s where you can get same-day (and next-day matinee) tickets up to 50% off to tons of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. And with the free TKTS Live app, you can check before you head to the booth IRL to scope (in real time) which shows are available and for what price. While these tickets may not be quite as cheap as rush or lottery tickets, it’s still a fantastic option that involves minimal scheming ahead of time.

TDF
TDF

If you’re under 30, a senior, teacher, or freelancer, join this non-profit

TDF, the non-profit behind TKTS, also runs a membership program that offers some of the best ticket deals you can get. TDF members have special access to deeply discounted tickets to Broadway shows, plus Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway, dance performances, and concerts for only $11-$57. Even better: you can book your tickets online days—and sometimes weeks—in advance, and the seats (which are chosen for you) are often great. TDF memberships are available to students, teachers, freelancers, anyone under 30, seniors, civil servants, non-profit employees, and more. A one-year tax-deductible membership to TDF typically costs $40, but there’s currently a new member winter sale that can unlock a $35 membership for your first year! Visit the TDF website to learn more and see if you’re eligible.

Roll the dice and let Broadway Roulette pick for you

Broadway Roulette adds a bit of spontaneity to your cheap-ticket repertoire. For a flat fee around $49-$59, pick a date, the number of tickets, and a few other choices (like whether you want to see a musical or a play, or eliminating a show you've already seen), and they'll handle everything else! On the morning of your selected date, you'll receive a notification letting you know the surprise show you will be seeing and additional necessary details. All Broadway shows are included in Broadway Roulette—even the biggest hits. So you can even guarantee an orchestra seat, and if you use the program more than once, they’ll make sure you never see the same show twice.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Marissa Solomon is a writer and comedian based in Brooklyn. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.