Atlanta’s Fox Theatre plays host to many touring productions of Broadway shows — recent offerings include the hit 80’s-musical Rock of Ages, Twyla Tharp’s dance spectacular set to Frank Sinatra songs, Come Fly Away, and the perennial favorite, Guys and Dolls. If these outings have you hungering for a true Broadway binge, then it is time to start planning your fall theater trip to New York City. While New York is an expensive city, there is generally no need to pay full price for theater tickets, if you know where to look for discounts.
Any visitor to Times Square will see the famed TKTS discount ticket booth. Located at 47th and Broadway, right near the NR subway stop, even amidst the dazzling neon signs it is impossible to miss, with its recently refurbished stadium seating and the constant line of patrons. The booth now accepts credit cards in addition to cash, and if you are interested in seeing a play (as opposed to a musical), there is generally a very short line dedicated solely to plays, which saves a great deal of time snaking through the general line. The booth opens at 3 p.m. for that evening’s shows, and at noon for matinees.
While there will be representatives from the various shows willing to describe the plots for you, it is best to do a bit of homework before showing up in Times Square. Both Playbill and Broadway World have excellent, informative web sites which describe the current and upcoming shows, so that you may determine which shows are most interesting to you. Also, the TKTS web site provides information on which shows have recently been available at the discount booth. This year’s Tony Award darling, The Book of Mormon, for example, will not be available at TKTS, as it is largely sold out through the end of the year. However, many other Broadway, off-Broadway, and even dance productions are available, and knowing which shows interest you in advance allows you to proceed through the line with confidence. The TKTS employees are handling a large volume of customers in a short amount of time and do not generally have time to answer questions about the shows.
If you prefer to plan in advance, both Playbill and Broadway World offer theater discounts via e-mail and on their web sites, at no cost. You can also print out the discounts and bring them with you to purchase your tickets at the theater box offices to avoid online service charges. Some theater-goers believe that the theaters reserve better seats for purchases made at the box office as opposed to the ones offered at TKTS, and on occasion theaters do release seats at the last minute. Still, if you’d rather have your plans set before even getting on the plane to New York, the discounts offered by Playbill and Broadway World are a great way to pull your trip together and ascertain costs in advance.
Finally, some theaters offer rush tickets to students or the general population, either simply by showing a student ID, or, for more popular shows, through a ticket lottery 2.5 hours prior to curtain. Generally, the lotteries only allow the lottery winners to purchase up to 2 tickets, so this is not ideal for larger parties. However, it may be your only chance to see The Book of Mormon before 2012, without paying a ticket broker (who will charge likely double the price of the original ticket). Playbill has a list of the current rush ticket policies and prices. These are generally the least expensive tickets, but they may be in the first two rows of the theater or on the extreme sides, which are considered less desirable seats for viewing.
With just a little bit of time online, you can arm yourself for a fantastic theatrical adventure this fall. Be sure to stop in to the recently opened Shake Shack just west of Times Square, near Port Authority, for the inexpensive and perfect hamburger, shake and fries that even real New Yorkers believe is worth the wait. From Atlanta, Delta Airlines offers many flights throughout the day to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, with prices generally between $200-$300 round trip.