Text by Mallory Ward, Earlham College ’16
As a theater student, I enjoy going to see Broadway shows. Unfortunately, as a student, Broadway can be extremely expensive. One way I have learned to save money is through Broadway lotteries. As you can guess through the name, lotteries are a sort of raffling system to get cheap tickets at popular Broadway shows. These tickets usually fall between the $20 and $40 range. In the time that I’ve been in NYC, I have won three lotteries.
Nowadays, Broadway lotteries come in two forms: in person and online. Each has their pros and their cons.
Most shows that have lotteries tend to be in-person lotteries. The premise is fairly simple: you show up at the theater anywhere from two-and-a-half to two hours before the performance, fill out a card, and give it to whomever is running the lotto. At two hours before curtain, the lottery people pull out the cards and those whose names are called get the tickets.
Pros: The name-calling is truly exciting. I’m usually on the edge of my seat. In order for the theater-workers to hear you, you have to scream to be heard and the energy just grows from there. Another positive is that your chances to being picked are greater. Most shows have at least 20 tickets to give away and only the people at the drawing can get the tickets. One of the times I won, there were only 40 people there.
Cons: It’s a very limited time frame to be there. If you work or live far away from the theater district or don’t get off work until late, chances are you can’t participate. My other main complaint is that can get cramped. The theaters don’t want to block the sidewalk, so large amounts of people have to be squeezed into a tiny space.
Online lottos are slowly becoming a “thing” especially among newer shows. Some shows’ lotteries are on their websites; other lotteries are on the TodayTix app. You give them your email and around 3-4 hours before curtain, you are told if you won or not!
Pros: You don’t have to go to the theater, so if you live or work far away, you have an equal chance. The process is simple and doesn’t take a lot of time.
Cons: Its greatest pro is possibly its greatest con. Because you don’t have to go to the theater, you aren’t competing against a few dozen people, you are competing against possibly hundreds. The chances are much slimmer. It also takes some of the excitement out of it.
With all that in mind, have fun and good luck!