How to See Four Broadway Shows in Four Days for $100

Broadway shows are notoriously expensive and as much as I love the Hamilton soundtrack, I can’t afford to not eat for month just to bop around to “Yorktown.” 

And, while I haven’t been able to see Lin Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece quite yet, in my first week in New York I’ve won lottery tickets to a show a night for four days straight - and some nights more than one! 

Seeing Wicked from the Orchestra for 85% off!

Seeing Wicked from the Orchestra for 85% off!

I almost hesitate to share my secrets because I really want to see Hamilton for $10 - more importantly, I believe the arts are for everyone should be accessible and not just for the 1%, so I want to share my tips and tricks for seeing the best shows for visitors and NY locals alike. If you’re balling on a budget and enjoy live entertainment - this post is for you.

The Apps: 

Start by creating folder on your iPhone (if you’re anal about organization like I am) - label it something flamboyant and then download these: 

Today-Tix: This is probably one I use the least, but it does have a super smooth interface and is a great place for the following a handful of specific shows and also is a solid resource if you need to plan further in advance and want confirmed seats at a discount. It’s great for:

  1. Finding shows you’ve never heard of, they list everything on-and-off Broadway as well as other one-off productions and limited engagements. 
  2. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ($20 per-half): Today Tix is the venue for “Friday Forty” which takes place (shockingly) every Friday and provides winners the opportunity to purchase tickets for both halves of the show for a total of $40. As the show is sold out for the next 12 months and tickets are currently running around $300 for each half… $40 is a total steal. 
  3. Saint Joan ($30) and Sweeney Todd ($30): Every day you can enter to win tickets to the brilliant off-Broadway production of Sweeney Todd. And while it doesn’t officially open until April 25th, the Broadway show Saint Joan - a production about Joan of Arc - the app releases limited rush seats each morning at 10 AM for the preview performances. 
  4. Discounted confirmed tickets - way better than waiting at the TKTS booth in Time’s Square you can purchase same-day tickets, as well as tickets for many future performances, at a reasonable discount (though not as cheap as lottery) through the app. 

When purchased through TodayTix, you meet one of their representatives outside the theatre. Seats are randomly assigned, although unlike lotteries (which can be anywhere) there’s typically an option to select a rough area of the theatre (mezzanine, orchestra, etc).

Broadway Lottery: Broadway Lottery is clunkier than Today-Tix but offers WAY more options. It puts all the digital Broadway lotteries in one place, and once you input your information it saves it, making entering each day way easier. Shows on the app include: 

  1. School of Rock ($37)
  2. Anastasia ($42) 
  3. Phantom of the Opera ($28) 
  4. Springsteen on Broadway ($75 - Limited Engagement) 
  5. Dear Evan Hansen ($40)
  6. Frozen ($30)
  7. Mean Girls ($43)
  8. Book of Mormon ($55) 
  9. Bands Visit ($40)
  10. Kinky Boots ($42)
  11. Aladdin ($30)
  12. The Lion King ($30)
  13. Spongebob Squarepants ($30)
  14. Wicked ($35)
  15. Escape to Margaritaville ($40)
  16. My Fair Lady ($42) 
  17. Angels in America ($37 per half, $78 for both - Limited Engagement) 

Hamilton App: The “holy grail” of Broadway at the moment, Hamilton has it’s own app. You can enter everyday for performances the following day. Winners are able to purchase tickets for $10/each! 

Other Sites: 

  1. Stub-Hub: This can be a great resource for discounted tickets, periodically you’re able to find cheaper tickets than you could win in the lottery! Ticket prices usually plummet the day of the show as people no longer able to attend become desperate to sell. 

  2. Broadway for Broke People: is a solid resource that lists all the shows as well as opportunities for in-person lotteries, student tickets, and rush. These often involve going directly to the theatre box-office the day of the show but additionally there are several shows that require entry through their own websites. 

  3. TDF: The theatre development fund is an organization open to a wide range of people, including freelancers, artists, teachers, active military, and students. Once you join (and pay the $29 fee) you gain access to their discounted ticket program and are able to purchase tickets for less than box office prices in advance and online instead of waiting in line at their booths in midtown. 

Especially these days, theatre and the arts are unique and important opportunities for us to come together to celebrate all it means to be human! I hope you're encouraged and empowered to know Broadway isn't as inaccessible as you may have thought. Oh, and if you ever win Hamilton tickets, I'm totally willing to be your plus one. 

On the road (Travel Hacks)


Part One:

Most of what I write about is intimately personal. My life experiences and diverse stories about intimacy, faith, and mental health. Yet, the common thread throughout my writing is the importance of people, empathy, and human relationships. In 2017, with racial tensions, a refugee crisis, and cultural appropriation constantly in the news, I think it’s more important than ever to gain a new perspective. 

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."  - Mark Twain

Over the years I’ve been able to travel to forty countries on five continents, visiting major cities and rural towns. These adventures have shaped who I am, cultivated empathy in my soul, and brought new perspectives into my life. Along the way, I’ve discovered international travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some samples of deals I've found, or booked for friends in the last year:

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Las Vegas: $48 RT on American Airlines (ATL - LAS) 

London: $305 on Virgin Atlantic (ATL-LHR)

Dublin: $278 on Air France (DCA-DUB)

Amsterdam: $395 RT on KLM / Delta (MSP-AMS)

Sydney: $361 on Qantas (SFO-SYD)

Milan: $398 on Emirates (JFK-MXP)

Sao Paolo: $275 on Delta (DTW-GRU)

Hong Kong: $348 on American (ATL-HKG)

In the last two weeks, I've booked tickets to Tel Aviv, Israel for $203 RT on Air Canada and Tokyo for Skymiles and $58. Here are some of my strategies:

  1. Frequent Travel Programs: This is traveling 101. Whenever you get on a plane, sleep in a hotel, or rent a car, make sure you are earning points for your travel. It can be advantageous to know which alliance your airline is in and stay as loyal as you can to one. The main three are:
    1. SkyTeam: (Delta, KLM, Air France, Korean Air, etc)
    2. Star Alliance: (Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, etc) 
    3. One World: (American, British Airways, Iberia, etc) 
  2. Leverage Social Media: This is my favorite way to find deals. Even if you’re not a big social media user, you can create a free Twitter account just for this purpose. I have the following accounts set to alert me whenever there is a new post. When deals are posted, you have limited time to act. Here are my four favorite accounts to follow, again - it’s super easy to setup alerts for alerts when they tweet! If you don't want to setup Twitter, each of them have their own sites and Facebook pages as well:
    1. @tpg_alerts
    2. @theflightdeal
    3. @faredealalert
    4. @dansdeals
  3. Credit Cards: I’ll elaborate on this strategy at a later date. I briefly mention it here because it can be a good way to earn points quickly. However, there are other ways to travel for cheap. 
  4. Ebates: E-bates is something you can embed in your browser and earn cash-back when you shop online. They send you quarterly checks or direct deposit. It’s not always a lot, but 1-3% back here and there can add up. Especially on airfare, hotel, and rental cars. Sign up and learn more here:
  5. Priceline: The “Name Your Price” function is great for rental cars, hotels, and flights if you have some flexibility. You’ll also earn 10% cash back on your travel using the above free eBates program. 
  6. USAA: USAA is totally free to join and contrary to popular belief doesn’t require you to be in the military. Once you sign up you can receive up to 30% off your rental car rentals. The big one though is there’s NO UNDERAGE DRIVER FEES! I’ve been renting cars since I was 18 and haven’t once paid the ridiculous $25/day underage fee. 
  7. Hopper: This is my favorite iPhone travel app. You’re able to set a range of dates and places you’d like to go and Hopper will monitor the prices for you and send you a notification when it predicts prices are at their lowest. 

I hope as you go explore you'll discover as Stevenson did, "there are no foreign lands, it is the traveler who is foreign." May you return with more empathy, stories, and self-awareness than when you left! 

Look for "Part Two" later this week! 

Bon voyage, 

- JM