Broadway is great, but it isn’t cheap. But if you’re in the right place at the right time, you can snag some discounted tickets to some of the most popular shows, with decent to amazing seats. If you like Broadway, you need to learn the lottery system, which is one of my favorite NYC secrets!
In 2016, I won the lotteries for Jersey Boys, American in Paris, Kinky Boots, Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime, Something Rotten, Paramour, and Fun Home. Now, a lot of these shows are no longer on Broadway, but they were certainly all great shows. As for the best seats I snagged, Kinky Boots had amazing box seats and Jersey Boys was front row! Plus, the tickets were usually around $30-$40 each – that’s it!
So what’s the catch? When people first hear about the lottery system, they usually jump to false assumptions. A common misconception is that you need to pay each time you enter a lottery. That there is actually no cost to enter lotteries. If you’re not selected, you don’t lose any money – you just lose the time it took to enter the lottery. So if you take a moment every morning to enter some lotteries, you’re very likely to win at least one within a week or two.
The other thing to be aware of is that you need to be able to see the show the same day. In most cases, you will enter a lottery in the morning, be notified around 2 pm or later, and then see the 7 pm show that same day. This is how lotteries work. If you can get into NYC that same night, then you should have no problem. If you work in the city, even better! I enter lotteries in the morning on my commute, and my office is literally walking distance from the Theater District.
There are some lotteries that actually allow you to enter multiple shows for the week. These are great, and they even notify you a full day ahead of the show so you have more time to plan.
Taking the time to enter lotteries daily is definitely worth it, especially if you want to really see a show. You can specify whether you want 1 or 2 tickets, so you can even bring a friend, relative, or co-worker.
So let’s say you won some tickets. Congratulations! As for paying for/getting the tickets themselves, that will depend. There are 3 instances I have seen and experienced:
- Some lotteries use Ticketmaster to let you chose and pay for your seats at the lottery’s discounted price. Pretty convenient, and as an added bonus you can just print out to the tickets.
- Lotteries done through TodayTix allow you to pay through the app. Then you find the TodayTix concierge in front of the theater an hour before showtime to pick up your tickets.
- The email will ask you to go to the theater’s box office to buy the tickets. I hate this scenario the most because I have to leave work to get the tickets in time.
Once you have the tickets, you’re set to come to the theater, take a seat, and enjoy the show!
Here are other tips that come to mind:
- You can enter lotteries once per day, every day that they are available. Some shows have lottos daily; some are less frequent.
- Don’t try to game the system with multiple email addresses. Theaters are smart, and if they see your name multiple times, it’s likely they won’t pick you.
- If you win the tickets, you need to be the person to buy and pick up the tix. At the box office, they will almost always ask for ID.
- But what if you won but can’t go? Your options are to either forfeit the tickets, or buy them and sell them to someone you know who can go.
- The more popular the show, the harder it will be to win. No, I haven’t won lotto tickets to Hamilton or The Lion King… but my work colleagues have, so it’s definitely possible!
So now that I’ve convinced you to enter Broadway lotteries, you’re probably asking where to find them. The secret Google formula is [name of show] and the word “lottery.” That will lead you to a website where you can enter the lottery with your name, email address, and some basic information.
I also recommend the website Broadway for Broke People, which always has a running list of current Broadway shows. Plus, the right column will tell you if the show offers a lottery!
Best of luck! 🎭
If you win a Broadway lottery, leave me a comment below (or tweet me) about the show you saw!
Additional image credit: Anthony Delanoix via StockSnap.io.