I still remember the first Broadway musical I ever saw. It was 42nd Street, and I watched it at the St. James Theatre in New York when I was 12. I have no idea how much my parents paid for those tickets, but they probably weren't cheap. I would say they were worth it, though, because it was an experience that will be forever etched in my memory.
My children still talk about the Broadway performance of The Lion King that I took them to see three years ago. And I can tell you for certain that those tickets weren't cheap. I probably could've paid a lot less for those tickets, though, if I had known about the various ways to get them at a discount.
The fact is, you can avoid paying full price for tickets to almost all Broadway shows -- even the hit musical The Book of Mormon. Just follow these tips from Erich Jungwirth, chief operating officer of the Lyric Theatre (formerly Foxwoods Theatre), Broadway's largest theater and home to Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark.
See shows during Broadway Week. You can get two tickets for the price of one to 19 shows including Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia! and Wicked during Broadway Week, which actually lasts two weeks (Sept. 2-15). Some shows will even offer the discount for up to four weeks, Jungwirth says. This biannual event also happens in January, giving theater-goers another chance to score two-for-one tickets.
Go during the off-season. Summer and the winter holidays are the peak seasons for Broadway, Jungwirth says. So ticket prices are at their highest during these times. To avoid paying top dollar, see shows during the spring and fall. For example, tickets to the popular musical The Lion King cost about $160, on average, in July versus $125 to $140, on average, in September, he says.
See a weekday performance. Theaters know that more people want to see shows on weekends, so they can charge more for those performances, Jungwirth says. You'll save about 10% to 15% by seeing a show on a weekday rather than a Friday or Saturday night, he says.
Use discount-ticket sites. BroadwayBox.com shares discount codes that you can use to get up to 50% off tickets purchased online or at the theater box office. TheaterMania.com also offers discount tickets on select seats at popular Broadway shows.
Buy discounted tickets the day of a show. Some theaters offer extremely discounted tickets the day of a performance. For example, the Lyric Theatre sells rush tickets for just $39 at its box office on the day of Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark performances if there are seats available, Jungwirth says. You must pay in cash, and you can purchase only two tickets (and there's a good chance the seats won't be together). The Eugene O'Neill Theatre has a lottery before each performance of The Book of Mormon. You can enter at the box office two-and-a-half hours before a show. If you win, you can get up to two tickets for just $32 each. If you're not lucky enough to score a deeply discounted ticket directly from a theater, you can buy tickets for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows for 20% to 50% off the day of a performance at TKTS Discount Booths in New York City's Times Square, the South Street Seaport and Brooklyn.
Sign up for Audience Rewards. If you live in or near New York or visit frequently, you can take advantage of Broadway's rewards program called Audience Rewards, which allows members to earn points to save on tickets, get free tickets and get seat upgrades. You can sign up for free at AudienceRewards.com or when purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster and Telecharge. You earn points when you buy tickets, play the Audience Reward trivia game or shop online at AudienceRewardsMall.com.
See a touring Broadway show. Nothing quite compares to seeing a show on Broadway, Jungwirth says, but there's a good chance you'll pay less to see that show while it's on tour in cities across the country. For example, tickets to The Book of Mormon performances in Austin, Texas, cost $49 to $139 versus $69 to $299 in New York. So check the Web site of the show you want to see to find out if it's coming to a city near you -- or a city you can visit at a fraction of the cost of a trip to New York.
Award-winning journalist, speaker, family finance expert, and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.
Cameron Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for Kiplinger.com. She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.