Broadway is huge business, and a major tourism industry. Last season, which ended in May, raked in a staggering $1.14 billion in grosses for New York City's theatres.
In the same way that Avatar managed to become the highest-grossing movie of all time because its tickets came with a bloated 3-D surcharge, Broadway is able to hit massive numbers like those because its tickets cost big bucks. If you want to see a sold-out show such as The Book of Mormon, the average ticket price, according to Playbill, is $170.62. And again, that's the average.
Savvy tourists to Manhattan know that although you'll always have to shell out for the hottest shows, most shows without lines around the block have plenty of tickets available for much less than full price. The same-day TKTS ticket booth, often called the "half-price" booth even thought not all of its tickets are truly that deeply discounted, is a tourist staple.
We also introduced you to BroadwayBox.com, which lists all the going discount codes so you can plug them into your own bookings.
Now there's another player, new this year, called TodayTix. This one's a free download for your smartphone (iPhone right now, Android coming soon). It's for travelers who don't feel like killing prime New York City touring time by waiting in line at TKTS, or for those who prefer to play a few days ahead of time rather than risking their plans to the vagaries of same-day availability.
Pull it up, and it lists shows that are hacking their rates over the next few days. Although it has a smaller selection than that of TKTS, it sticks to the big shows most tourists care about, and the deals are competitive. Right now, you can get ticket for the major-budget musical version of the film Big Fish for $49, as opposed to $76 to $142 at the box office. Chicago is $50, not $90 to $138, and not $64 as at TKTS. The Phantom of the Opera is available for $45. The app's service fee is $5, and payment is handled via PayPal—an added layer of security from an established payment facilitator.
Some of its selections are what it calls "Concierge," which is a premium service costing another $5. Once you request Concierge seats, staff will work for three hours to obtain that ticket at the low price quoted. If it can't succeed, you don't get charged—although programmers say they have yet to fail and they promise not to saddle you with seats with obstructed views (a common trick used by some discounters). A half hour before showtime, a TodayTix agent meets you at the theatre and hands you the tickets. For non-Concierge selections, though, the theatre's box office will have your tickets on hold.
Even though it's a newcomer, TodayTix is working to integrate itself with the tight-knit Broadway community, so much so that it is also donating to Broadway's favorite charity, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. If you book with the code TTCARES, it'll knock $5 off your bill (essentially, your booking fee) as well as donate $5 to BCEFA.
We haven't tried it yet, but it looks promising. Do any readers have experiences with this app? Please share your experiences below.