Welcome to Playbill’s Ultimate Broadway ticket-buying guide. Whether you’re a seasoned theatre-goer or a first-time attendee, this compilation of our leading ticket resources will help you navigate your way to a great price.
WHAT‘S RUNNING ON BROADWAY?
There are currently 41 professional venues in New York City designated as Broadway theatres by the trade group The Broadway League. Some Broadway theatres house long-running hits (like the Majestic Theatre, the home of The Phantom of the Opera since 1988), while other theatres see a regular turnover as shows close, vacate a theatre, and are replaced by a new show. Each year there are regularly 30 or more new shows opening on Broadway
How can you find out what’s running on Broadway and what is worth seeing? Playbill offers a number of resources, including this
list of the shows currently running on Broadway, including links to reviews and discount tickets
In trying to decide what Broadway show to see, some people may crowdsource their choice by seeking out the most popular shows. The following Broadway shows regularly sell out, according to the weekly Broadway grosses, making them some of Broadway’s toughest tickets:
Playbill has created guides to help you secure tickets to some of these popular shows:
As a general rule, a Broadway show isn’t officially sold out until 5 minutes before the performance begins, so if you are willing to wait (potentially a long time) in a cancellation line you may get into a coveted sold-out show a minute or two before the curtain rises.
Broadway offers a broad range of family-friendly shows, with the content of many musicals at a PG-movie level. The following shows are especially kid-friendly, which parents are likely to find enjoyable too.
HOW TO BUY TICKETS TO BROADWAY SHOWS
With the proliferation of online ticket-buying options and search engine advertising, buying a ticket to a Broadway show is more confusing than ever. Here is Playbill’s guide to securing a ticket for the best price to suit your budget.
OFFICIAL TICKET VENDORS
The only way to ensure you are buying valid tickets to a Broadway show is to buy from the official ticket vendor. To purchase full price tickets to Broadway shows, you can either visit the show’s box office, or purchase via phone or online from the show’s official ticket seller. Tickets for Broadway shows are sold by one of four outlets, depending on the theatre:
TELECHARGE: Ambassador Theatre • Barrymore Theatre • Beaumont Theatre • Belasco Theatre • Booth Theatre • Broadway Theatre • Broadhurst Theatre • Cort Theatre • Golden Theatre • Hayes Theatre • Jacobs Theatre • Longacre Theatre • Lyceum Theatre • Majestic Theatre • Music Box Theatre • Shubert Theatre • Schoenfeld Theatre
TICKETMASTER: Atkinson Theatre • Gershwin Theatre • Hirschfeld Theatre • Kerr Theatre • Lunt-Fontanne Theatre • Marquis Theatre • Minskoff Theatre • Nederlander Theatre • New Amsterdam Theatre • O’Neill Theatre • Palace Theatre • Rodgers Theatre • St. James Theatre • Simon Theatre • Wilson Theatre. Note that for some high-demand shows (Harry Potter, Springsteen on Broadway), TicketMaster has implemented its Verified Fan system, requiring pre-registration before the on sale date, and if approved/selected by Ticketmaster, the prospective buyer will receive an access code via SMS text 2-4 hours before tickets go on sale. Ticketmaster cannot send SMS messages outside the U.S. and Canda so individuals outside those countries cannot participate in first-day sales, though spare tickets put on sale subsequently will be available to all.
ROUNDABOUT THEATRE COMPANY: American Airlines Theatre • Studio 54
ATG TICKETS: Hudson Theatre • Lyrics Theatre
Reacting to market forces, most Broadway shows now offer premium seat locations at higher prices (typically $250+ vs. the “regular” price of $160 or so for an orchestra seat). Such tickets sell at a slower rate and, as a result, some premium seats may remain available in the days leading up to a given performance. Such premium tickets are a viable option for a very special occasion and provide the peace of mind of buying legitimate tickets from the official ticket vendor.
Discounts tickets to Broadway shows are available either online, via phone, in person at the theatre’s box office, or the TKTS discount booths.
Online, Phone, and In Person
Purchases of discount tickets made online, over the phone, or in person at the theatre have the advantage of allowing buyers to secure tickets well in advance of a performance, and with the assurnace of tickets in hand, to then plan travel and dining to fill out the evening. Discounts can range from 25–50 percent depending on the popularity of the show (averaging about 40 percent, meaning $100 orchestra seat ticket, discounted from $160, or $50–$80 for a rear mezzanine seat). You can select exact seat locations.
To take advantage of these discounts, visit the Playbill Club for discount codes redeemable online, over the phone, and in person from the official ticket vendors, ensuring your tickets are legit. Online and phone orders carry a service fee (averaging $10 per ticket) while redeeming in person at the box office will eliminate all service fees except a facility/restoration charge of about $2 (make sure you present the discount code to the box office to qualify for a discount).
TKTS Discount Booths
Since its opening in 1973 at Duffy Square (Broadway at West 47th St.) in Times Square, the TKTS discount ticket booth has become an institution for those looking for discounted last-minute tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. The service, run by TDF, has since expanded to three other locations—South Street Seaport, Brooklyn, and Lincoln Center—to offer day-of or one-day-advance tickets. Though launched with only half-priced tickets, discounts now range from 30–50 percent, with an additional $5 per ticket fee that supports the running of the booths and TDF’s audience development initiatives.
The lines can be long for the Duffy Square booth, though you can view a live webcam to determine the length of the line before venturing to Times Square. The other booths offer the same ticket inventory and shorter lines, as well as next-day matinee tickets in addition to same-day performance tickets. Visit TDF for booth locations and hours.
– At Duffy Square a Plays-only ticket window typically offers almost no wait time.
– Booths now accept credit cards in addition to cash.
– Official, real-time listings of what’s available at TKTS are now available, to allow you to see if your desired show is being offered. There is no guarantee the show still still be available when you arrive at the booth, though.
Broadway Week (mid-January and early September) and Kids’ Night on Broadway (late February)
Several times a year, Broadway shows work together to promote near-industry-wide discounts. The next few discount periods are NYC Broadway Week, with 2-for1 tickets mid-January and early September (with a $20 “upgrade” option for preferred seating) and Kids’ Night on Broadway late Februrary, with a free ticket for a young person 18 and under accompanied by a full-paying adult. Check this page regularly for additional discount promotions, or visit Playbill Club for a comprehensive list of current Broadway Discounts.
Student and Young Adult Ticket Programs
Many Broadway productions are commercial ventures, but the four not-for-profit theatres (Lincoln Center Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club and Second Stage Theater) offer deeply discounted (in the range of $30) tickets to students or theatregoers under 30 or 35. Some theatres may sell a student ticket at the box office with valid ID.
TDF for Students, Educators, Theatre Artists and Retirees
The Theatre Development Fund, a non-profit service organization dedicated to cultivating audiences for live performances, offers a discount ticket membership program to students, educators, non-profit employees, retirees, and other classes of individuals. For a $35 annual membership fee (proof of status is required to qualify), members are eligible to purchase tickets to Broadway musicals for $47-$49.50 and Broadway plays for $41, as well as Off-Broadway shows, concerts, and dance performances with a $4 handling fee. Seat locations are assigned by the box office. Available performances are typically for the select dates during the upcoming week(s). Visit TDF for more information about membership.
SECONDARY TICKET SELLERS
Ticket resellers have been around for decades in the form of ticket brokers. With the advent of technology these services are more widely available online through popular services like StubHub, SeatGeek, and VividSeats. These “secondary market” sites allow individuals to re-sell tickets (originally purchased from primary, official ticket vendors) often at prices well above face value.
It should be noted that there are people who take advantage of secondary market services to traffic counterfeit tickets. These services offer a money-back guarantee to customers in these cases, but it may be cold comfort to the buyer who has invested a whole evening centered around a Broadway show only to be turned away by the venue.
You are strongly urged to avoid tickets sold on Craigslist, which may often be counterfeit and offer no money-back guarantee.
If you are on tight budget, have plenty of time to spare and don’t mind doing some work to secure deeply discounted day-of-performance tickets ($30–$50), rush and SRO (standing room only) tickets may be for you. Rush seats are typically sold when the box office opens for that day’s performance(s) while standing room may be sold at the same time or later in the day, but only after the performance is sold out.
And if you are feeling lucky, many shows offer in-person or digital lotteries at similar prices. In-person lotteries are conducted for that day’s show(s), usually a few hours before the performance while digital lotteries are conducted earlier in the day. Odds of winning may be low for popular shows, so patience and persistence are the key to getting into a show this way.
SEAT-FILLING AGENCIES (PAPERING)
For undersold shows where a producer may want a fuller house, several seat-filling agencies exist to distribute complimentary tickets (with a $4.50–$5 service fee) to last-minute performances. These agencies, including Play-by-Play, Theater Extras, Gold Club, and Audience Extras, charge an annual $100 membership fee for access to up to 2 tickets to primarily Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and cabaret shows, with a rare Broadway production in the mix. For those interested in Broadway shows, these agencies are not recommended.