BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE | One of the great things about the current theater market is that if you want to see a show, you probably can. The total sold-out doesn’t exist, if you have the time or, more likely, the money. If you’ve decided that you want to add a show to your Pride celebration and haven’t planned ahead, in most cases it’s not too late to score good — or even great — seats.
From direct sales online at established sites such as Telecharge and Ticketmaster (the latter does a brisk business in resale tickets, as do Stub Hub and Vivid Seats) to relative newcomers like the TodayTix app that offers rush tickets, discounts, and lotteries for hot shows, there are lot of resources, most as close as your smartphone. A little digging can often scare up some discounts as well at sites like TheaterMania.
Each of these outlets has different features. For instance, TodayTix doesn’t let you pick your exact seat, just an area of the theater, while discounts from other sources do. When looking for discounts online, you can often see both discounted and full price tickets, so you can choose on the spot if you’re rather splurge on the orchestra or save a bit in the rear side of the balcony. (My feeling is it’s almost always worth the splurge to sit closer.)
Some shows like “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Hamilton” have daily lotteries, and there are lotteries for other shows through TodayTix. In those cases, if you’re paying between $10 and $30 for a ticket with a face price of $159 or much more, you’ll most likely be thrilled just to get in and not care so much about where you sit. Each lottery is structured somewhat differently, so check before you enter. Your odds of getting a lottery ticket will also change from show to show depending on number of entries and the stock of seats available. Even three years into its run, your odds of getting “Hamilton” lottery ticket are about 1 in 10,000. No reason not to try, though.
There are cancellation lines that form every day at the box offices for hot shows, but that can be a huge time commitment. TodayTix also offers same-day rush seats, but you need to be fast with your fingers the moment those go on sale to score them. If you really want to see “Hamilton” or “Dear Evan Hansen,” your best bets are either the lotteries or resellers. There are a lot of tickets available for “Hamilton” at Telecharge, but they’re all from resellers, and the prices range from about $1,400 in the orchestra down to $500. (Don’t get me wrong, I adore “Hamilton,” but, personally, I’d rather spend the money on a flight to London.)
Then, there’s my old friend, the TKTS booth, which has been around since 1973. The three locations — Times Square, Lincoln Center, and Metrotech in Downtown Brooklyn — sell day-of tickets for a 30 to 50 percent discount. Line up early for the best selection, and take advantage of the “Play Only” lines to cut your wait time significantly if you’re not looking to score tickets to a musical. Find all the details at tdf.org. TKTS also has an app that gives you, at times when the booth is closed, a sense of what’s been up recently, though the selection can change every day.
If you’re feeling flush, premium seats are available for almost all the performances. Starting in 2001, when producers found they could get $480 for the best seats for “The Producers,” the system has caught on at virtually every theater. Premium seats for “Hello, Dolly!” with Bernadette Peters are topping out at about $300 (versus nearly $1,000 with Bette in the role). It’s called dynamic pricing, like the airlines use, and is based on what the market will bear. By the way, if you love musicals, you owe it to yourself to see Peters in this role. She’s luminous and hilarious. Tickets for “Dolly” are regularly at TKTS.
I’ve always had good luck just walking up to the box office, even at the last minute. Buying a single ticket may yield better seats. If you are alone or you don’t insist on sitting with your friends, you may score some prize locations. I have over the years. You’ll also save on the “convenience fees,” which can add $20 or more to a ticket price. Some shows also have cancellation lines, but that’s a bit risky.
I highly recommend that you go through a legitimate vendor, whether direct or a reseller. Be wary of people selling tickets on the street, particularly to hot shows — there have been counterfeits.
That’s the how, now here’s the what. My recommendations and tips are based on what was available as of June 11. Things can — and will — change, but this will give you an idea of what you may be able to get. This list only includes shows from the current Broadway season, or current shows that opened after the season ended, from June 21-26, though you can even find tickets for long runs such as “The Lion King,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Beautiful,” “Chicago,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “The Play that Goes Wrong” at TKTS. Most shows play Tuesday through Saturday evenings with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.
This has been a banner year for gay-themed shows. From the Off-Broadway “Afterglow,” which isn’t much of a play but has handsome men engaged in lots of simulated sex, to the sublime Broadway revival of “Angels in America,” the shows have dealt with politics, relationships, and, of course, sex. Here are the three best bets if you want to see a gay-themed show.
Angels in America
You can’t spend a better day in the theater than with this powerful revival that will leave you intellectually and emotionally drained and uplifted. Marianne Elliot’s production of Tony Kushner’s now-classic, two-part masterpiece was imported from England, and it’s a must-see. It took Drama Desk and Tony Awards for play revival and for the shattering and glorious performances of Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane, but there isn’t a performance that isn’t stellar.
Availability: Good for all performances at full price. You can now buy tickets for individual performances, letting you see Parts One and Two on your own schedule. If you have the time — and stamina — seeing both parts in one day is recommended. Often at TKTS. Best bets: Box office or TKTS.
Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St.
The Boys in the Band
Fifty years on, and first seen a year before the Stonewall riots, this was one of the first mainstream presentations of gay men in popular culture. One can potentially argue with the dated language, but it’s really nothing more than an earlier version of today’s queer slang. The fight for identity, inclusion, community, and connection is as real today as it was then. While one can’t be arrested for being gay in 2018, the struggle isn’t over.
What’s also significant with the 50th anniversary revival is that the nine-man cast is made up entirely of out gay actors, something that would have been unthinkable in 1968. The pared-down version clocks in at 100 minutes without intermission and, like “Angels,” is an important part of the gay theater canon.
Availability: Premium seats only for all performances except some side orchestra on Monday night. Reseller prices range from $200 to more than $1,400 for first or second row in the orchestra. Best bets: Online or resellers. Surprisingly, we found a few discounts for some performances, but not many.
Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St.
This is the play that will keep you and your friends up all night talking about the issues it raises. It’s a fascinating exploration of the issues facing LGBTQ people in the current climate. In many ways, it’s a natural successor to “Boys” and “Angels,” and it resonates with the questions about who gay, lesbian, and transgender people are in contemporary culture. Jesse Tyler Ferguson leads a stellar cast at Playwrights Horizons.
Availability: Spotty for most performances. Best bets: Online and box office.
Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd Street
The Band’s Visit
In a season of musicals based on movies or glorified children’s shows, this simple, heartfelt show reminds us of the inherent goodness of people. Itamar Moses’ Tony-winning book and David Yazbek’s sophisticated and deeply moving score create a show for grown-ups and a story of hope and humanity.
Availability: Very good for side orchestra, premium seat central orchestra, and both front and rear mezzanine for all performances. However, with the show’s strong performance at the Tonys, including Best Musical, this may start selling fast. Best bets: Online or box office.
Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St.
Notwithstanding the implied dig above, sometimes a movie can inspire a delightful musical, especially when Tina Fey is doing the book writing honors. This bright, funny musical based on the 2004 movie is consistently entertaining, full of life, and features a brilliant young cast. Structurally, it really is an old-fashioned show, and that all works in its favor. Oh, and “fetch” still isn’t going to happen, but this show is a major hit.
Availability: Spotty and only resale tickets in the rear orchestra and mezzanine, ranging from around $300 to more than $1,000. Best bets: Reseller or (best of all) buy tickets for later this year.
August Wilson Theatre, 245 W. 52nd St.
This difficult show has been given a glorious revival featuring spectacular choreography by Tony-winner Justin Peck. Jessie Mueller, Joshua Henry, and Renée Fleming lead the cast. But you don’t want to miss the star-making and Tony and Drama Desk-winning performance of Lindsay Mendez as Carrie Pipperidge. The domestic violence has been softened from the 1945 original, but it’s still a challenging show that is also moving and wonderful.
Availability: Good for all performances at all price points. Online discounts available. Best bets: Online discounts, online regular price seats, TKTS, and box office.
Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St.
My Fair Lady
The sumptuous revival at Lincoln Center retains everything you love about this show, assuming you do, and adds a more Shavian depth that gives the show a new, contemporary feel that’s particularly relevant to current conversations about women in society. Of course, there are wonderful performances by Harry Hadden-Paton, Norbert Leo Butz, and Lauren Ambrose, and Catherine Zuber’s spectacular costumes to make this a ravishing revival.
Availability: No tickets at the box office or online. Resellers only. The good news is that many resale tickets we found are only about 10-15 percent more than list price. Best bet: Resellers.
Lincoln Center Theater, 150 W. 65th St.
It’s the Disney film on stage. You don’t really need to know much more. If you’re a Disney fan, it’s a must-see. It’s wonderfully creative with lots of theatrical magic, which is exactly what you’d expect from Disney. Yes, “Let It Go” is belted out to end the first act, and Caissie Levy blows the back wall off the theater. The big surprise is Patti Murin’s performance as Anna with a level of kooky comedy that’s endearing.
Availability: Decent for all performances. Most are resale tickets, but not exorbitant, only about a 15 percent premium for many. Best bet: Online resellers.
St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St.
Summer: The Donna Summer Musical
The only reason to see this is to revisit the music that defined disco. Don’t expect an accurate biography or even good fiction. Do expect some wonderful singing from LaChanze and Ariana DeBose. If you want to go back to the ‘70s, you might enjoy this.
Availability: Good in side orchestra, excellent in the mezzanine for all performances. Best bets: Online, box office, or TKTS.
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical
If you have a taste for silliness, then this is the show for you. The classic, whacked out Nickelodeon cartoon has been brought to the stage with a delightful score from a host of pop music icons. It’s just silly fun.
Availability: Excellent for all performances. Plus, lots of discounts up to 40 percent. Best bets: Online discounts, TKTS.
Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at W. 47th St.
Once on This Island
The Tony for Best Revival came as a surprise to many, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t well-deserved. The show is a gorgeous, Caribbean myth told with great passion and romance. This is a show that benefits from having been trimmed and performed in one act as it swirls you into the tale. The performance of Hailey Kilgore as the girl at the center of the tale is not to be missed.
Availability: Good at all performances, though we’ll see what the Tony win does. The premium seats are only $40 more than full-price orchestra, and that may be worth it so you feel closer to the action. The show has been up at TKTS regularly, too. Best bets: Online, online discounts, TKTs.
Circle in the Square Theatre, 1633 Broadway at 50th St.
Three Tall Women
With Tony wins for Laurie Metcalf and Glenda Jackson, it’s likely the few remaining tickets for the run that ends June 24 will be gone in a heartbeat — even at $425. Joe Mantello’s production was the highlight of this past season. Searing, provocative, and perfectly acted by all — the always wonderful Alison Pill is the third woman — Edward Albee’s meditation on the stages of a life and what it teaches us even as it takes everything from us will easily be one of my most treasured memories of many seasons. See it if you can.
Availability: Premium seats at all performances, some rear mezzanine. This is a small theater and there is very little legroom in the mezzanine, but the play is only 100 minutes long. Best bets: Online, box office, resellers.
John Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
This is really for Harry Potter fans. It’s a kind of fan fiction come to life. There are tons of illusions that do bring the magic of the world to life, and if you’re immersed in Hogwarts lore you’ll follow along pretty well. The producers exhort attendees to “keep the secrets.” One I will share: there are lots of parts that drag over the nearly six hours, and mere Muggles have no spell to fix it. I have loved all things Potter and I’m like a kid with stage illusions, but this would benefit from, yes, even more magic and less narrative sprawl — or judicious editing.
Availability: Fair at all prices, and there are a lot of prices, from about $80 up to $300 per part. They have a dedicated website for ticketing that’s frustrating to use. Once you pick a date, you’re offered take-it-or-leave it options. If you leave it, you have to start over again, which means waiting for access at high traffic times. Early morning seems best. Best bets: Box office, where you can choose seats and the people are really helpful, or online.
Lyric Theatre, 214 W. 43rd St.
Obviously, a list like this isn’t comprehensive. There are wonderful Off-Broadway shows to choose from, and there are free events like Shakespeare in the Park, where you can see “Othello” through June 24 (see publictheater.org for details). I’ve opted to list the shows I get asked about most by friends and colleagues looking for suggestions of what to see. I hope you find something that will let you, to paraphrase Shakespeare, beguile your lazy time with some delight.