If you’re not on a set schedule or if you don’t require advance tickets, the rush/lottery service is your best bet. Sold to the public a few hours before curtain on the day of the performance, tickets are discounted tremendously (usually hovering somewhere between the $20-$26.50 range) and the seats are typically better-than-decent. It’s a good idea to check a specific show’s website or swing by the box office, as not everyone offers the service. This is a cash only, two tickets per person type of arrangement.
It’s a traditional theater phrase, one brimming with classic showbiz cache, but standing room only is still a living thing. Several shows that are completely "sold out" do reserve an area at the rear of the venue for eager theatergoers to stand and take in the performance ... sans seats. Tickets typically run between $20-25 (cash only). Like rush/lottery tickets, you’ll want to check a show’s website or head over to the box office to inquire.
Several Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway performances offer student/senior citizen discounts. You’ll likely be required to show ID when picking up tickets for same-day performances at the theater’s box office, which typically go on sale at 10 a.m. (cash only). Check with the theater, Telecharge or Ticketmaster as to which shows currently offer what discounts.
If you can round up a group of theater-loving pals, you can be eligible for group sales rates. Almost all Broadway and Off-Broadway shows will sell blocks of tickets to a group of 20 or more at a discount (sometimes groups of 10.) Call your preferred box office for details...
High 5 Tickets to the Arts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making the arts affordable for teens. Through High 5, young adults aged 13-18 can buy $5 tickets to the best of New York City dance, music, theater and visual arts events all year round. In order to purchase tickets, all they need is an interest in the arts, a school ID and $5—and they’re encouraged to pick up an extra $5 ticket for a parent, teacher or mentor. If you know a teenager interested in theater, get them wise to this service.
If you’re primary interest lies in Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway, visit Ticket Central—a standard go-to for discounts for over 20 years. Ticket Central sells tickets online, over the phone and at their box office (416 W. 42nd St.)
Probably the most recognized (and touristy) route for theatergoers to obtain discounted tickets, the TKTS kiosks offer 25-50% discounts for Broadway and Off-Broadway on the day of the performance. The main both at Duffy Square has temporarily been re-located to the nearby breezeway under the Marriott Marquis (46th St. between Broadway and Eighth Ave.) If you can’t make it to Times Square, TKTS has another booth at the South Street Seaport (corner of Front and John Sts), where matinee tickets are sold a day in advance. The day’s offerings are usually posted on a board outside the booth and can only be purchased with cash.