A Beginner’s Guide to Broadway on a Budget

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A Beginner’s Guide to Broadway on a Budget

"My Fair Lady" at Lincoln Center Theatre offers $30 student discounted tickets at the box office the day of the performance. (ANDREW BEECHER/THE OBSERVER)

"My Fair Lady" at Lincoln Center Theatre offers $30 student discounted tickets at the box office the day of the performance. (ANDREW BEECHER/THE OBSERVER)

"My Fair Lady" at Lincoln Center Theatre offers $30 student discounted tickets at the box office the day of the performance. (ANDREW BEECHER/THE OBSERVER)

By MARIELLE SARMIENTO, Asst. Arts & Culture Editor

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As a student at Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC), the campus is within walking distance of Broadway, giving us access to the center of live theater. Fordham’s proximity to Broadway was a big factor for me as a prospective student. However, soon after moving to New York, I realized that although I was closer to all my favorite shows, my wallet most certainly wasn’t. I had big dreams of going to see a Broadway show every weekend, but two semesters into my time at FLC, I was thoroughly disappointed at the lack of shows I’d seen; that had to change. So I sat down with three theatergoing experts—Kara Hogan, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ‘19, an intern at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Carli Freeman, FCLC ’21, who wants to compose musicals, and Erika Ortiz, FCLC ’18, who completes an annual Broadway show-a-thon—hoping to learn all their Broadway secrets.

With the sheer number of shows out there, it seemed impossible to find information about affordable ticket options. “My biggest recommendation for people who love Broadway is broadwayforbrokepeople.com, which is a website that lists all the cheapest ways to get tickets for all the shows currently on Broadway or upcoming,” Hogan said. After speaking with our theater connoisseurs, I decided the top methods for an economical Broadway experience are rush tickets, lotteries and student discounts as well as Fordham-specific opportunities.

Rush Tickets

General rush tickets can be purchased by going to a show’s box office on the day of the performance. The tickets offered are usually discounted in the $30-$40 range. Some shows offer their partial view seats as their rush tickets, meaning parts of the stage obstructed. “It’s about being in the room,” said Hogan when I asked if partial view seats deterred her.

Most box offices open at 10 a.m. but lines can begin to form hours earlier depending on the popularity of the show. When it comes to shows like “Waitress,” Freeman recommends being in line one-and-half to two hours early. Hogan said, “Sometimes it’s cold and you have to wait, but for some shows, like ‘Band’s Visit,’ I recommend rushing because it’s a fairly intimate show and you want to be as close as possible. Rush tickets are usually in the orchestra even though they’re partial view. You could buy $50 tickets for the rear mezzanine, but then you’re too far back.”

In addition to general rush tickets, many theaters offer Student Rush. It’s the same process as general rush, but are only open to students or people under a certain age. “Student rush is the easiest,” said Freeman, “and the best place to do that is Lincoln Center because no matter what’s playing you can get $30 student tickets by going to the box office two hours before the show.”

When it comes to rushing Broadway tickets, Ortiz said, “The best tip I can give is to go on a day when the weather is bad. It usually deters the casual theatergoers, and the less people that show up to rush, the better chance you have of getting your tickets!”

Lottery Tickets

Most Broadway shows offer lotteries. “The Book of Mormon” in-person lottery opens two-and-a-half hours before curtain and names are drawn two hours before the show right outside the theater. The tickets are $32 and the lottery winners are allowed to purchase two tickets. “Hamilton,” as well as most other shows, have digital lotteries that you can enter online or through an app. Digital lotteries open at different times throughout the day, depending on the show and when the curtain opens. Some shows open their lotteries the day before, and close the morning of the performance. TodayTix opens the “Cursed Child” Friday Forty lottery every Friday at midnight for the next week’s performances.

Freeman has won several lotteries, including the “Spongebob Squarepants” lottery twice! “I used to enter lotteries daily during the beginning of the semester,” said Freeman. “Most of them are open from midnight until 9 a.m. So if you’re a night owl, stay up until midnight, or if you have an 8:30, do it before class.” I asked her if you can really get “good” at winning lotteries. Freeman told me the science behind her luck, “Wednesday shows are generally easier to win because they’re two-show days, double the winners, and it’s in the middle of the week. There aren’t as many people entering them.” Lotteries take dedication, luck and time, but the payoff can be amazing.

Fordham-Specific Tickets

At Fordham, the Resident Hall Association hosts Theatre Thursdays, where they sell $20 tickets for Broadway shows in McMahon 109. The next trip is to see “Anastasia” on April 26. Another theatergoing opportunity is to take a class in the theater department. “I took Invitation to Theatre and you get discounted or free tickets as part of the curriculum,” said Hogan.

Combined, Hogan, Freeman and Ortiz have seen over 50 shows this year, and have mastered Broadway on a budget. “Do your research, because you can get a good deal if you’re willing to put in a little extra energy or effort,” said Hogan. “It’s a myth that Broadway is unaffordable. It’s hard, you have to do a little work to get the discounted tickets, but you can do it!”