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Frugal Find: Broadway Rush Tickets

   Posted On: December 20, 2013  |    Posted In: Saving  |     Posted by: Broke Millennial®

“There’s no business like sIMG_0062how business.”

False. There is no business like trying to save yourself a pretty penny. (Look at that, two cliches in two sentences).

If you follow me on Twitter, or read my post last week, you may have seen that Peach and I went to Wicked. Wicked (the Broadway musical for anyone who isn’t familiar) has been on my bucket list for about five years — so the two of us gifted it to each other for Christmas. For the first time since I moved to New York I paid full-price for a Broadway show.

When I first moved here, I made the rookie mistake of thinking the TKTS booth* was a good deal.  I gleefully forked over something like $62 to see House of Blue Leaves with Ben Stiller, Edie Falco and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The seats were decent and seemed cheap compared to full-priced seats.

Oh, silly-naive Broke Millennial.

Not too long after, I discovered the glories of Broadway rush tickets.

Rush tickets offer students and the general public an opportunity to get out of bed early in the morning and stand in a line for a couple of hours for the privilege of paying $25-$40 for a Broadway ticket.

Peach wasn’t a fan of the early wake-up call.

Not all plays offer rush tickets, but various sites including PlayBill, NY Tix and Broadway For Broke People keep an updated list of the shows available. Remember, non-musicals count too!

In general, most box offices open around 10 a.m., so people start lining up a few hours ahead of time. The really dedicated seem to get there around 7, but I usually cue up between 8 to 8:30 depending on the popularity of the show, if they have a matinee that day and how many tickets each person can purchase.

There isn’t a set policy for how many tickets are available for rush. I’ve been to shows that do 20 while others do 60. Some shows only have student rush tickets that you must provide valid ID for, while others are general rush. And yes, there are some age-restricted ones like $35 tickets to people under the age of 35.

A few of the bigger shows (Wicked, Book of Mormon, Matilda etc) do lotteries in lieu of having people line up for tickets. I did the Book of Mormon lottery a few times to no avail, so I just saw it in Chicago instead (for a fraction of the NYC ticket price). Some also offer standing room only for bargain prices, just wear some comfy shoes.

I’ve never had a “bad” seat from a Broadway rush ticket. A few times I’ve had a slightly obstructed view, but it just made it hard to see an actor’s face in a scene or two — not for the entire show.

If you want to see a play 100% free, try ushering. Select off-(to off-off-off) Broadway playhouses use volunteer ushers and as payment they let you watch the show (sometimes you do have to stand). I’ve done this at the Second Stage Theater and the Classic Stage Company. Other theaters that have volunteer ushers can be found here.

There are times when paying full-fare or going to TKTS is worth it, if someone else is paying or you’re a tourist just in for a few days and want to splurge on a show. But for those who are willing to wake up early, aren’t afraid of waiting in lines and enjoy striking up conversations with strangers — Broadway rush tickets are for you!

Have you rushed a Broadway show(s) before? What other tips do you have for finding cheap theater tickets?

* As a true millennial, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you “there’s an app for that.” TKTS and Theater Mania (two discount sites) have apps that offer information have what’s available. Theater Mania also tells you ticket prices.


I didn’t have a chance to throw my updates together last week so the big news, I was featured in Forbes! A big shout out to Alexandra for being a fan of Broke Millennial and saying some incredibly kind words about my site in Nine Financial Resolutions For Millennials

Average Joe invited me down to the basement to do the first ever guest movie review for the Stacking Benjamins podcast. I give him my thoughts on Saving Mr. Banks and my favorite movie of 2013. (The whole podcast is great, but I don’t chime in until 1:07).

Dave Grant, CFP from Finance for Teachers asked me to do a guest post about how young teachers handle their money. I interviewed three teachers under 30 to chat budgets, debt, savings and the Common Core.

If you’re a young millennial or have a college-aged kid, you should check out my post on DailyFinanceYour Credit Score: After College, It’s the One Grade That Matters Most. Or if you’re looking to donate this Christmas season but don’t think you can afford to read Charitable Giving on a Tight Budget.


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18 responses to “Frugal Find: Broadway Rush Tickets

    1. Chicago has some great theater. When I went to see Book of Mormon we got day-of show tickets for only $60 (paying full price). I was in shock. Plus, awesome improv there.

    1. You must be the luckiest person ever! That’s insane! Newsies is still on my short list, but for some reason I’m just not insanely drawn to that show. I just hear good things so figure I should go ahead and check it out.

  1. My mom and a friend got rush tickets to go see Jersey Boys in Chicago. I am glad that you enjoyed Wicked. I paid $160 for the tickets here at stage at State. Unfortunately, I don’t think any major theatres here in MI have the opportunity to do “rush” tickets.

    Great advice for all my friends in NYC and Chicago though.

    1. Wicked was great! If you’re close to U of M, they do some great theater on campus. Being near colleges do give you access to some great theater for much cheaper.

  2. Never done the rush tickets for Broadway (I don’t live in NYC) but I’ve waiting in line for sporting events before. At Duke that was actually the only way to get in to basketball games. For the UNC game my freshman year we waited in line for 2 months! Though we had a group of 12 and not all of us had to be there the whole time. I actually thought that kind of thing was a lot of fun, though I’d have a little bit harder time doing it these days.

  3. I have never done rush tickets but then I am rarely ever in New York. So when I have been, we just bought tickets. 😉 A worthy splurge in my book! That’s fantastic you were featured in Forbes, Erin, a very well-deserved honor. 🙂

  4. I don’t live in New York, never been to New York but in case I get the chance, I’d sure love to visit Broadway. So rush ticket it is. 🙂 Much appreciation, by the way, for mentioning one of Frugal Rules’.

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