Friday, April 15, 2016

The New York theatre ticket experience

That's one thing off my bucket list: Visit New York. Well, I suppose two things for anyone who doesn't consider "See a Broadway show" to be synonymous to visiting New York. I only booked in advance for Wicked despite knowing I would want to see more shows. Seeing as there was nothing else specific I was absolutely desperate to watch, I decided to chance it and look for cheap tickets when I got there. This turned out to be a good decision in my situation. As I am still a student, I did not have a lot of money to spend but I still wanted to get the most out of New York and have the Broadway experience. 

Compared to the West End, Broadway tickets are, on average, more expensive. Off-Broadway shows are also more expensive that their London counterparts. Where it is possible to get a variety of deals for tickets online for shows in London and the prices can vary greatly depending on where you look, Broadway seems to have more uniformity when it comes to the pricing of tickets. "Cheap" is not really a thing. To put this into context: Our Wicked tickets cost $159 (about £110) each for mid-stalls. To see Wicked in London you would be looking at a face value of around £65 for a similar view. I paid $58 (roughly £40) per ticket to see The Fantasticks including a 30% discount. Your full price ticket to a professional off-West End show in a venue of a similar size would cost £20-25.

The main paths to cheaper tickets are lotteries, general rush tickets, standing room only (SRO) tickets and the TKTS ticket booths. The general rush tickets work in a similar way to West End day seats: get to the box office early on the day of the performance and you could secure yourself a cheap front row seat to the show. However, you may have to get there hours before the box office opens. The same rule tends to apply for SRO tickets or they could be offered to people who don't win in the lottery. Lotteries you sign up within a certain time frame either online or in person (on the day or the day before depending on the show). They then pull the lucky winners out of the hat. The prices for general rush and lottery tickets vary between $10 and $50 and you can normally get a maximum of two tickets per person per show. I signed up to all the online lotteries and won $28 front row seats for The Phantom of the Opera for that evening. I found this website the most helpful when researching day seats:

The main TKTS booth is located on Times Square and offers last minute discounts of up to 50% on Broadway and off-Broadway performances. Find out what time the booth opens and get there early in order to secure the best deals. Despite arriving 10 minutes after the booth's opening time I managed to secure Fantasticks tickets for the evening. I ended up having to queue for about half an hour but this was on a Monday when most Broadway theatres are dark so I would expect the queue to be longer on other days of the week. 

Although I obviously wish I had been able to see everything, time and money prevented that. Had the weather been warmer I might have tried for some general rush tickets but I was very happy with the two sets of discounted tickets I was able to get on the day. Obtaining cheaper tickets can be more effort but then, for a theatre buff that could be a part of the so-called Broadway experience.

1 comment:

  1. " paid $58 (roughly £40) per ticket to see The Fantasticks including a 30% discount. Your full price ticket to a professional off-West End show in a venue of a similar size would cost £20-25."

    Off West End as in fringe theatre is usually around that amount. Off West End not fringe is actually even more these days and can be easily around £40.
    And fringe theatre cannot be compared with Off Broadway. Fringe theatre means no to very little pay for the performers - most/all usually just do it to add a show to their CV.

    One major driver in the ticket prices are the running cost, just look at the minimum pay in the UK and in the US. Huge difference. A lot of performers in the UK being paid just minimum need at least another job to survive.