Your pocketbook is probably looking threadbare, especially after a punishing holiday season. Fortunately, you don't have to cut down on your theater habit (at least, not too much) even with this crappy economic time. Bargain-hunting theatergoers know plenty of ways to get discounted tickets to both on and Off-Broadway shows. Metromix lets you in on the secrets of finding a good deal in 2009.
• Join the Playbill Club. A feature of Playbill's excellent website, this service requires only an e-mail address and password. Signing up will give you the discount codes for plays and musicals that are still in previews as well as for many long-running shows. You can even opt not to receive their e-mail spam, and just check the site when the mood strikes you.
• Subscribe to a papering agency. When producers want to make sure the house is packed, they'll “paper” the house with nearly free tickets. New York has three superb agencies that offer seats for a year-long subscription: Audience Extras, Play-By-Play and Theatermania Gold Club. Join one or all, and every day you'll have the opportunity to pick up tickets for a song.
• Buy a season ticket. If you find yourself a regular at certain Off-Broadway venues like the Roundabout, Public or New York Theater Workshop, a subscription is the way to go. It won't just cut the ticket price by 33 percent or more, it will also get you first choice of seats. Companies offer different packages, which allows for more flexibility and choice. Get on the mailing lists: fliers are sent in the spring, tempting you with the fall's selections.
• Visit the TKTS Booth. New Yorkers often turn their noses up at perceived tourist spots. But now that Times Square's TKTS Booth has re-opened with a design that's more vibrant and wait-friendly, you should take the opportunity. The Booth offers 25 percent-50 percent discounts to popular shows on and Off-Broadway (so do its sister locations at the South Street Seaport and in downtown Brooklyn).
• Usher. Some Off-Broadway houses, and even more Off-Off-Broadway ones, are perennially understaffed and underfunded. But every night, they need four or five people to rip ticketstubs and hand programs out. The solution? Volunteers. Call the box office to see if they need ushers. Usually, the only requirement is showing up a few minutes early in a white shirt or blouse, and your obligation ends as soon as the lights go down.
Photo credit: Flickr/drunkcat