TDF offered deals on this short-lived show. Photo: S. Mitra Kalita

If you missed 2-for-1 Broadway tickets earlier this month, never fear: They were kind of hard to navigate anyway. But in the process of trying to win the lottery for several shows, we share a few hacks and a multi-pronged strategy to snag seats in one place. This is not exhaustive and we favor simplicity, efficacy and cheaposity over comprehension.

Get TDF membership ASAP.

For $40 a year, you can get discounts on Broadway and many other shows across the performing arts; sign up here. Criteria for membership is a long list; at various points in my life, I have signed up with student, faculty, nonprofit, freelancer and self-employed status. Over the last year, thanks to TDF, we’ve gotten to see A Strange Loop, Topdog/Underdog, Hadestown, Gabriel Byrne: Walking with Ghosts, The Piano Lesson, 1776, Ain’t No Mo’ on Broadway. Off, we’ve gotten tickets to Help, Stranger Sings and Elyria. When my kids were younger, the $11 tickets to matinees or discounts to the circus were especially welcome. Pro tip: When shows are in previews or earlier in their run, before buzz builds, is a great time to pounce. I saw American Utopia this way, for example. 

There are tickets to the delightful “Six” on some lottery sites. Photo: S. Mitra Kalita

Enter the lottery. Often.

Bookmark this site right now: Broadway Direct is run by the Nederlander Organization. As of yesterday, you can get tickets to Six, Aladdin, MJ, Wicked and The Lion King. If you click on each, it tells you when you can enter and when you will be informed of the results. You can only enter once (it asks for email, full name and birthdate) and be warned, it may take several times before seeing success. The third time was a charm for my Wicked efforts (two orchestra seats for $108 total); my friend told me it took her 10 tries. 

Of course, there’s also an app for that. 

We recommend downloading TodayTix onto your smartphone. On the days or nights you want to go, log onto the app at 9 a.m. (sharp) and enter the show and number of tickets you want. You can set up trackers (I currently have one for &Juliet; no luck yet) so it alerts you when the tickets are on sale. Read more on the very human, very analog strategy used for the app to work here

This is how close we got at “Wicked,” thanks to a mix of winning the lottery, cheap student tickets and a kind box office. Photo: S. Mitra Kalita

There are cheap set-aside seats, especially for students. 

Different theaters offer different programs to make prices more accessible. For example, the ACCESS25 program makes $25 tickets available for preview performances at the Atlantic Theater. 

The Atlantic Theater also offers $20 tickets to students for some shows; they are sold at the box office two hours before show time, and are cash only, one per ID. We also discovered $69 student tickets at Wicked at the box office 10 minutes before curtain time, and the box office attendant was kind enough to put it next to the other lottery seats we had won. 

Beg at the box office. 

We know it’s a risk to head to a show without tickets but options like standing room only or some of the discount programs only work in person. And at least this way, you can also save on all the fees that third-party vendors tack onto prices. We recommend heading to the theater of your desired show and asking (nicely) for suggestions on how to best get cheap seats. After all, the folks who love theater also tend to love making it accessible to more people. 

S. Mitra Kalita is a veteran journalist, media executive, prolific commentator and author of two books. In 2020 she launched Epicenter-NYC, a newsletter to help New Yorkers get through the pandemic. Mitra...

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