I want to see a Broadway play and know I can get tickets for half off at the TKTS booth in Times Square. What time do they open and when do I have to get there? I'm usually very busy and can't wait in line for five hours
Glen, The Bronx
Run by the Theatre Development Fund since 1973, the TKTS booth in Times Squre is a veritable Broadway institution. Check out the official TKTS website for the fine print, but here's what you need to know. If you want tickets for an 8 PM performance during the week and on Saturday, the booth opens at 3 PM. (There are different schedules for matinees, so check the website for details.)
Those who want their pick of shows tend to line up an hour or two before the booth opens, but those are usually tourists or other people with some time to spare. And anyway, getting there early is by no means a guarantee that the show you want will be available. Tickets for hits such as Hairspray are unlikely to be at TKTS any time soon, but don't rule out other biggies like The Producers. The Nathan Lane-less show has been making appearances on the TKTS display board recently.
TKTS is a great resource for those looking to spend a little less on their theater tickets. "Twofers" are still quite common, but a number of shows offer tickets at only 25% off. Ask Gothamist isn't too good at math, but 25% off a $100 ticket sounds like a lot of money.
Don't let the fact that you are busy stop you from patronizing TKTS. In fact, Ask Gothamist recently walked by the booth at about 7:15 PM, less than an hour before normal curtain time, and saw plenty of great shows still listed on the display board. Because of the walk-up nature of some Broadway sales, many producers do not release their shows' unsold tickets until later in the day. In fact, a producer might release a few dozen balcony seats at 3 PM, only to decide later in the day to release a group of orchestra seats. So, if time is tight for you and your work schedule doesn't allow you to be in Times Square at 2 PM (and honestly, why would you want to, even if you could?) don't feel like you'll necessarily be missing out on all the good shows.
TKTS charges a $3.00 service fee. Remember to bring cash or traveller's checks. No credit cards are accepted. If standing in line in Times Square isn't appealing to you, TKTS runs another location at South Street Seaport.