If you know what show you want to see and where it’s being performed, do a little legwork and save handling fees and surcharges by purchasing tickets directly from the box office at the theater. These booths are usually open for only a few hours per day, so call ahead to find out when to go. Rush tickets purchased two hours in advance of a show are also often available through a lottery or for students at about $30 to $40 each. A list of rush tickets currently offered is available here for Broadway and here for Off Broadway.
If you’re just here for a few days and decide to see a show at the last minute, many of the nicer hotels have concierge services or even Broadway ticket desks that procure hard-to-get theater seats. Concierges will show you the options and then act as a middle man between you and a reputable broker, minimizing the fear of getting taken advantage of by a scalper. For good seats at the last minute, expect to pay premium prices (often hundreds of dollars per ticket), plus a $20 to $25 tip for the concierge, depending on the cost of the tickets.
212-239-6200, telecharge.com; Open 24 hours
For tickets to certain Broadway and Off Broadway shows. Telecharge adds a $4.25 surcharge per ticket and additional fees vary. (Order them online for slightly lower fees.) Tickets can be mailed in seven to ten days, held at the box office, or printed at home.
416 W. 42nd St. nr. Ninth Ave., 212-279-4200; ticketcentral.com
Open from 12–8 p.m. daily for box-office and phone orders. A reasonable option for lesser-known Off and Off-Off Broadway shows. Tickets are available at the box office, by phone, or online with a nominal surcharge, depending on the show. Box-office orders have no surcharge or additional fees. They don’t mail tickets, so pick them up from the Ticket Central box office, or have them held at the theater when you order them by phone or online.
800-745-3000; ticketmaster.com; Open 24 hours
Ticketmaster is probably the best-known agency for getting tickets to larger productions, such as The Lion King, Wicked, or Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—though it definitely tacks on higher fees than most other agencies. Expect a $3 to $10 surcharge per ticket, plus an additional convenience charge (which varies depending on the price of the tickets, but is usually around $3). Although ordering online won’t save you any money, it will save time. Order at least two weeks in advance for mail delivery, pick up your tickets at the box office, or print them at home.
NYC’s Official Visitor Information Center
810 Seventh Ave., at 53rd St., 212-484-1222; www.nycgo.com
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; holidays, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.
The Visitor Information Center offers discount coupons for select shows.
47th Street at Broadway; Mon and Wed–Sat (for 8 p.m. performances): 3 p.m.–8 p.m.; Tue (for 8 p.m. performances): 2 p.m.–8 p.m.; Wed and Sat (for 2 p.m. matinees): 10 a.m.–2 p.m.; Sundays (for matinees): 11 a.m.–3 p.m.; Sundays (for evening performances): 3 p.m.–7 p.m.
1 MetroTech Center, at Jay St., Brooklyn; Tue–Sat (for same-day evening and next-day matinee performances): 11 a.m.–6 p.m. (closed for lunch 3 p.m.–3:30 p.m.); Matinee tickets are sold on the day before the performance; www.tdf.org
South Street Seaport
Corner of Fulton and South Sts., Mon–Sat, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sun, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
If you already know what show you want to see and when you want to see it, there are a number of sites to check out, including:
Broadway.com: Offers tickets and theater news. TheaterMania.com: News and reviews along with comprehensive theater listings and ticketing links.
In general, buying tickets from some of the characters hovering on street corners in Times Square is not a great idea—it’s not even legal—but if you’re really desperate and everything seems legit, you may find yourself a great deal to a show.
Some theaters have standby tickets available right before show time. Call in advance to find out which theaters offer this option.
Volunteer Ushering A handful of Broadway theaters and most Off Broadway theaters rely on volunteer ushers to work during performances and it's easy to lend a hand in exchange for a chance to see the show. Make a reservation in advance and then arrive about an hour and a half before the performance for a debriefing from the house manager. After you show paying theatergoers to their seats, settle down to enjoy the performance for free. You might be asked to stick around for a bit afterward to scan for stray playbills or lost-and-found items. Call the box office as procedures (and dress codes!) vary.