One of the main reasons I decided to come from LA all the way to New York for college was its proximity to Broadway. As someone whose parents raised me on musical theatre, the thought of being able to finally see fabulous original productions was thrilling. During my first semester at SLC, I started going to see shows immediately. I knew discount tickets were available but wasn’t completely sure how to get ahold of them. My first stop was the TKTS Booth, which provides discount tickets for certain shows but still come out to around $70-$90 a ticket. Needless to say, my bank account ran out after just one show and I quickly investigated the student rush scene. Here are the resources that I’ve gathered and some of the important tricks I’ve learned.
I have a love/hate relationship with lotteries. On one hand, online lotteries have made it easy for us theatre lovers who are a 30-minute train ride from The Great White Way to enter in lotteries to see Broadway shows from the comfort of our beds. On the other hand, this more accessible system makes it easier for more people than ever to enter, making your chances at winning worse (I’m looking at you, Hamilton lottery).
Speaking of the Hamilton lottery, there’s an app for that! Lukas Thoms, a Hamilton superfan, created an app that notifies users each time the lottery opens and instantly fills in the information required so you don’t have to tediously type out your name and birthday every single day. This won’t exactly better your chances of getting a Hamilton ticket, but it will make sure you don’t miss out on an opportunity to finally get your hands on one.
For other shows, the TodayTix app is your best bet. TodayTix is taking over the rush scene with their easy-to-enter online lotteries. Lotteries are not available for all of their shows (and the non-lottery shows tend to be pricy), but they have a good amount of opportunities. I’ve started entering every lottery available as soon as I wake up as part of my daily routine. Most of the time, I don’t get chosen, but when I do get my hands on $20 tickets, it’s worth it!
A lot of times you’re going to have to drag yourself to Midtown to get the best deals. For general rush, a number of discount tickets are set aside when the box office opens. This requires getting to the theatre early to snag a ticket before they run out. I recently lined up at 7:30am to see A View From the Bridge. I honestly could have gotten there a little later as I was the second person there and the line started getting long around 8:30am. Sadly, there’s no science to what time to get places, as it’s going to come down to the popularity of the show and the day you go. I went the Saturday before the play closed so I figured I’d better be safe than sorry.
Rush differs from show to show, and the best way to keep track of what your must-see-show’s policy is through these handy websites:
Playbill: This is the official list of rush policies for all Broadway shows.
Broadway For Broke People: This is the unofficial listings of rush policies, which sometimes has more options and tips than Playbill.
StudentRush.org: This will give you rush policies for on and off-Broadway shows, as well as other events happening around New York like tapings of TV shows. If you register with them, you’ll be sent lots of opportunities to get heavily discounted tickets (we’re talkin’ $5) to mostly off-broadway shows, but sometimes a Broadway hit will slip in there.
Roundabout Theatre Company’s service HipTix provides students with $25 tickets to all of their productions.
Manhattan Theatre Club provides a similar service called 30 Under 30 which does what it sounds like—gives theatre goers under 30 years old $30 tickets.
Sarah Lawrence’s Student Affairs office also offers discounted tickets to certain shows through their CityLinks program. For example, they are currently taking students to see Kinky Boots this upcoming Saturday for $15.
So go forth and good luck in getting those tickets! Now excuse me, I have to go enter the Hamilton lottery.