What should one consider before buying NYC theater tickets?

None of these questions has a right or wrong answer. But the answers affect how you might best select a show and the way you get tickets for it.

  • Is seeing one particular show a deal-breaker for the journey's success?
  • Are you willing to pay more than face value for a high-demand show?
  • Do you care more about price than the particular show or seat I get?
  • Will you spend time selecting a list of shows you'd be equally happy to see?
  • Are you willing to stand outdoors in a line, for up to an hour to save money?
  • Are you willing to commit to a certain day/night and time before I get to NYC?
  • Is there any chance you'll miss the show and lose the entire ticket investment?
  • Do you care much about where the seats are (in a 700-1100 seat theater?)
  • Will you have luggage or other impediments to getting through theater security?
  • Do you want to eat before or after the show?
  • Do you need a [handicapped ... ] Accessible Seat or a Companion Seat?
  • Do you have youngsters in you party?  Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are not allowed to attend Broadway shows.  The minimum age for a very few shows is 5, and higher than that for all other shows. Please respect other patrons by not attempting to flout the age limit.

How does one decide what show to see?

  1. First, do you want to see a musical or a straight (non-musical) play?
  2. What sort of shows, if any, have you liked in the past?
  3. Go to Playbill or Theatermania or other theater web site to read descriptions of what the shows are about
  4. Check with sites like didhelikeit


    or ShowScore


    to get an idea of what the critics said about any shows that prove of interest. Also check out the Arts Journal blog About Last Night & look for the topic So You Want to See a Show?  to see what one critic's top picks are & how likely you are to be able to get seats http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastn...
  1. Check to see if the show(s) you are interested in might be on discounts by checking with Playbill, TheaterMania or Broadway Box to see if discounts are currently being offered.  Also check with the TKTS web site to see what shows were being offered by them in the past week.
  2. Decide on whether seating preference or budget would affect what shows you want to see (do you need to sit front/center which will cost you more or are you on a budget which means you need to find discounted shows.)
  3. If you have decided you need to see a discounted show, join the free discount clubs on Playbill & TheaterMania & the e-mail list at Broadway Box.  You'll get lots of offers for lots of shows in your in-box.  Also, remember that many discounts aren't published until approximately one month before performance. 


  • Buy tickets the same day when you are here at the TKTS booths, operated by the Theater Development Fund (TDF)

  • Buy in advance using discount codes found on discount websites like BroadwayBox.com and TheaterMania.com (no membership required)

  • Join TDF as an out-of-towner, if you qualify, and buy tickets up to 3 weeks in advance

  • Wait on line for "Student Rush" or Lottery tickets at the theaters.

  • Sign up for email alerts on a variety of theater websites 

Check out what is listed on the boards at the TKTS booths. There are three TKTS booths, all operated by the Theatre Development Fund - the newly renovated booth in Times Square, one in the South Street Seport and one in Downtown Brooklyn   ALL BOOTHS WILL NOW ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS, CASH, TRAVELLERS CHEQUES OR TDF GIFT CERTIFICATES AND VOUCHERS.

TKTS Ticket Booths

You can buy same-day tickets at all three booths. You can buy evening show tickets only after 2 pm at the Times Square Booth. Also, the Times Square location has a "plays only" window, if you don't want to see a musical.

The South Street Seaport TKTS booth opens earlier and is typically less crowded. Also, you can buy Saturday or Wednesday matinee tickets the day before the show (Fridays and Tuesdays, respectively) at the South Street Seaport and Brooklyn TKTS booths, but not at the Times Square TKTS booth. The Brooklyn booth also sells tickets to shows in Brooklyn venues, like the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Making your TKTS purchase faster and easier:

If you have an idea what shows you'd like to try to get at the TKTS booth, try to look at the theatres' seating charts on their webpages in advance. Print them out and take them with you. When you get to the TKTS window, ask what kind of seats are available. They will tell you if they are "good" or "poor" seats, to help you decide whether it is worth it or not.  If your party does not mind sitting apart, tell the cashier to look for separate seats. Single seats are often hard to fill. You might actually get better seats!

If you have an iOS or Android phone, you can dowload a free TKTS App that shows the same list of shows as the LED signboards at the booth (when the booth is open), and a list of recently discounted shows when the booth is closed. If you're seated at a computer, you can look at the same lists at the tdf.org website. Click on "Ticket Services" and "TKTS Discount Booths", and look for the link to "See What's Available at TKTS Right Now." You cannot use these lists to purchase tickets online.

On any given day, the producers of a show decide how many, and which location of tickets they will send to the TKTS booths. The charity that operates the booths, TKTS, has no voice in this decision. The ticket allocation can run out early, not be fully utiilized, or even be replenished by the producer - if the producer believes that this is the best way to maximize the income for that day. One, admittedly imperfect way to study future availability for the shows that interest you is to look at the Apps mentioned just above, for the same day of the week you expect to be going to the booth, but a week or two before.

Join TDF as an Out-of-Town member: If you live more than 100 miles from NYC, visit NYC frequently and if you are a student or retiree, or if you work for the government, military, clergy or a non-profit organization, you can pay a small annual fee to become a National TDF Member and buy tickets from their website, or by mail. When the producers choose to offer discounts this way, they are generally available until the night before the performance, or until the discount allocation is sold out.

You may wish to set an upper limit on the amount of money you are willing to spend, before you get to the window at the TKTS booth. Show producers get to select which tickets they send, each day, to the booth. Sometimes they send the most "expensive" tickets, in an effort to increase the after-discount income. So if they send a "Premium" seat that's priced near $200, you could pay around $100 for a "half-price" ticket, plus the small TKTS fee.

NYC & Co.

There is no longer a storefront at 7th & 53rd.  However, here is how you can get a discount flyer to take directly to the box office of any theater that is on this discount theater flyer.

You may get the Theatermania flyer at their  City Hall location on the south end of City Hall Park, at Broadway and Barclay.
Or, you may go online to the thestermania website and download coupons.

Classical Music Opera & Dance

Reduced price tickets for the public to major cultural events. New York City Center, 92nd Street Y, Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center, and Miller Theatre at Columbia University have joined with Lincoln Center sell reduced-price tickets to their performances at LCTIX at the Zucker Box Office in Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium beginning Tuesday, October 29, 2013. The tickets will be sold the week of the performances on a Tuesday through Saturday schedule allowing for greater flexibility with ticket purchasing, unlike other discount ticket programs that sell tickets for the day of a show. For example, discounted tickets for a Friday night performance at City Center will be available at the Atrium on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, or as long as inventory lasts.


BE CAREFUL!  Not every ticket website offers discount tickets. In fact, some websites are essentially "scalpers" - selling "premium" tickets at "premium" prices. Perhaps you might need to pay double to get perfect seats to a sold-out show, but it might not be necessary! Some sites offer genuine discounts, but also sell advertisement links on the same site to resellers who may sell high-demand tickets for well above face value. WATCH OUT!

Here are a few resources you can check out before purchasing your theatre tickets. Use these sites for general information, seating charts and especially the discounts!!!

1. BroadwayBox.com -  This site is a public site that lists discount codes for Broadway and Off-Broadway.  It is very helpful if you want a discount AND want to see a specific show.  You can actually choose your seats as you check out.

2. Playbill.com- This site has a comprehensive listing of all the Broadway and Off Broadway shows, including cast lists, schedules and it also has many theatre stories every day.  They have a free " members only" section that also has discounts for shows, restaurants and hotels, but it is free to register.

3. Broadway.com- No ticket discounts, but has show listings, schedules, news stories, group tickets, hotel and theatre packages.

4. Theatermania.com- Show listings, schedules, news stories, discounts if you register, and  ticketing information. 

5. Seasonofsavings.com - Gives you a rotation of discount codes for online or box office use during the fall and winter -- for some restaurants, too.

6. BroadwayOffers.com -  This site, affiliated with Shubert Ticketing Services (legitimate seller for many Broadway shows) is used primarily by shows that send out cardboard mailers with 8-character discount codes, valid for some seats on selected nights. You can sometimes discover these codes on this and other newsboards, during online searches, from friends in the city the month before you, or on bulletin boards at hotels.

7.   TodayTix app - a mobile app for iPhone and Android that offers same day or up to week-in-advance discounted tickets to many Broadway and off-Broadway shows.  One can use the app from a smartphone, or use the website TodayTix.com. Both are very easy to use. 


It all depends on the size of the theatre, not location in the Theatre District.

"Broadway" theatres can seat more 500 or more people. A good example of a "Broadway" theatre not located in the Theatre Distrcit is the Vivian Beaumont in Lincoln Center.

"Off-Broadway" theatres can seat 99 to 499 people.

"Off-Off Broadway" theatres are smaller than that. They are often called "black box" theatres because they are sometimes created out of vacated basements, warehouses, lofts, former storefronts or schools, or other unorthodox spaces, and the walls are painted black and the windows are blocked over.


If you are hearing impaired, have mobility issues or use a wheelchair: Most theatres are now equipped with listening enhancing devices. The print edition of the New York Times has a "Theater Directory" every day that indicates whether a show is equipped with an infrared listening device (see lower right section of the Theater Directory).  As this is a paid advertising section, some theaters are not listed.   Arrive a little early, and let an usher know, or ask at the box office. If you use a wheelchair, please be aware that some theatres are very old and are landmarked, so they cannot be modified very much. Often, restrooms are located up or down a flight of stairs, and older theatres may not have elevators. But, most theatres will do whatever they can to accommodate you! You might be able to get aisle seats or a reserved wheelchair seating. Check the theatre websites to find about about accessibility.

The Broadway Theater League has put a new website up for Broadway patrons who have disabilities of all kinds:





Unlike seeing a video in the privacy of your own home, everyone can see, hear and smell you in live theater. Please respect the actors, musicians, dancers, the theatre staff and your fellow theatre-goers by following these simple guidelines:

  • Show up on time, maybe even five minutes early. Give yourself time to find your seats, get settled and turn off your phone.
  • Be clean and hygienic, try to moderate your cologne usage.
  • Go to the restroom beforehand (especially with kids).
  • Don't talk to your neighbor constantly. Seats are arranged so that you are able to see between the two people in front of you. When you and your partner decide to sit with your heads close together you are creating a wall for the person behind you.
  • Turn off cell phones, pagers and other electronic devices.
  • Don't send IMs or email during the show on cell phones or Blackberries
  • Don't sing along during the show. People pay a lot of money to hear the performers, not you.
  • Please sit back in your seat. When you lean forward the person behind you can't see.
  • Don't kick the seat of the person in front of you.
  • Don't bring large packages or shopping bags with you. Leave them at home, the office or at your hotel.
  • Don't unwrap noisy wrappers during the performance.

An extra note about texting and cell phone use:


  • It's your money. Didn't you pay to watch this show?
  • If you are bored or not interested, then leave the theater during an appropriate break. Wait for your group somewhere else. You're not strapped into your seat.
  • If your kids are not able to sit through the show, or are not interested, take them out. You probably should not have bought them tickets anyway.
  • Even if you don't want to see the show, I do. The light from your phone is visible and annoying.
  • If you continue to use your phone, someone will turn around and tell you to stop. Please take this personally and put away your phone.


This is not as important as following the ettiquette guidelines above, but many people, especially first-time theater-goers, ask this all the time.

There is no "dress code" for the theater - except for opening nights and galas -  but it is well worth it to consider wearing something nice to a show. You will see people wearing a variety of styles and levels of dress to shows. The most common style of dress is "business casual", meaning slacks and a shirt with a collar for men, and slacks or skirts with a nice blouse for women. You will see people dressed more formally and less formally than that. Jeans are common. Ties are not common, but you might see a few on men coming to the theater from work.

Yes, you can and may wear sweatpants, shorts, a tank top and flip-flop sandals to a show, and no one will kick you out or refuse you, but do you really want to? During the sweltering summers, you will notice more people wearing shorts. But remember: the actors and musicians can see you! It is appreciated when audience members dress better than they would to go to the mall or pump gas.

Besides, many theaters are very well air-conditioned - especially in the summer to keep the performers from melting under the strong spotlights - so consider this when selecting an outfit.

Seeing live theater can be a magical experience! Plus, it's your money. Don't be afraid to dress the part!