Broadway Shows On a College Student’s Budget
I love Philadelphia, and I love all of our amazing regional theaters, but…
New York City is just 2 hours away…
If you ever feel the bright lights of Broadway calling, here are the basics you need to know to make the most out of a trip to NYC.
The best way to get to New York City is by bus. Hands down. Amtrak tickets between Philly and New York are expensive and start at $56 for just one way. If you have access to a car, you have to factor in the time and money you’ll spend on parking and gas.
With the bus, you don’t have to worry about your own car and you save a lot of money! Depending on how early you book tickets, you can get a roundtrip Megabus ticket for as little as $12, and, even if you book a trip at the last minute, Megabus and BoltBus roundtrip tickets to New York very rarely go above $40. Both bus’ drop off points are in the middle of Manhattan—7th ave and 27th street for Megabus and 11th ave and 33rd street for BoltBus—and are about a 20-minute walk to any of the Broadway theaters.
Once you’ve bought your bus tickets, there are two options for buying Broadway tickets:
- (the safe route) buy tickets in advance
- (the risky route) rush the box office or enter a lottery when you get to the city
Buying in Advance:
Buying tickets in advance can be pricy, but there are anumber of websites that make Broadway tickets a bit more affordable for students.
- Tix4Students has tickets for students to a select listing of shows in specific student-designated seats that range from $42 to $50 for Broadway shows and $25 to $50 for Off-Broadway shows.
- Theater Development Fund (TDF) is a not for profit service organization for the performing arts. Students can pay $30 for a TDF account and then have access to a huge variety of tickets to Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Regional, Concert, and Cabaret shows. Broadway musicals are $47 while plays are $41. Unlike Tix4Students, tickets are distributed at the discretion of the theater, so there’s a good chance of getting premium $300 seats at a fraction of the price—I once ended up with a front row center seat to a show!
- TodayTix is a free app that, while it doesn’t have student discounts, has some of the lowest and best prices to Broadway shows. On the low side, ticket prices for Broadway shows range from $30-$70. You aren’t able to pick your seats in the app, but you are able to pick where in the theater (orchestra, mezzanine, balcony, etc.) you want to sit. The app is very user-friendly, easy to use, and also sells tickets for shows in Philadelphia, DC, and more!
Lottery, Rush, and
Entering digital or in-person lotteries or waiting in line for rush tickets are by far the cheapest ways to see Broadway shows. A number of Broadway shows hold digital lotteries that can be accessed through their websites. The TodayTix app also hosts digital lotteries. Digital lotteries are free to enter and only require you to provide your name and email address. The lotteries usually go online in the morning and, depending on what time the show ends, close and draw names in the late morning or early afternoon. In-person lotteries are run the same as online lotteries, but involve a lot more waiting in line at the theater itself. Names for in-person lotteries are usually pulled an hour to two hours before the show starts. Make sure to have an official ID on you!
If you don’t want to leave your fate to chance, waiting in line for rush tickets is your best bet. Unfortunately, in order to guarantee rush tickets, you need to get to the theater’s box office pretty early, depending on the show. Last May, my friend and I got to the box offices of Les Miserables and American Psycho, two shows that were about to close, an hour before they opened and got tickets. Last week, my friend waited in line from 4 a.m. to get tickets to The Great Comet of 1812.
Rush tickets are distributed at the discretion of the theater, so you can end up sitting anywhere. There is also an option for Standing Room Only (SRO) tickets that a few theaters offer when they are completely sold out. You can find the policies for all the shows on their individual websites or you can check out Playbill’s regularly-updated guide.
The majority of rush and lottery tickets are under $40 with none exceeding $50. Hamilton has the cheapest and hardest to win digital lottery with $10 tickets. All shows have a limit at 2 tickets per person. For more information about the cheapest ways to get Broadway tickets, you can visit the website Broadway for Broke People.
Going up to New York to see a Broadway show isn’t the cheapest thing in the world, but I hope that after reading this, you know that it doesn’t have to be the most expensive. Maybe you and some friends can treat yourselves to a post-finals week show!