Sean Hayes in “Act of God.” | JIM COX
Welcome to Gay City News’ sixth annual round-up of what’s on, what you should see, and how you can get in if you hope to make a trip to the theater part of your Pride celebration — but you haven’t planned ahead.
The good news is that for last-minute theatergoers, there are more ways than ever to find discounts, order from your phone, or take your chances without taking take time away from your other celebrations.
Of course, the question I’m asked most often is whether or not I can help you get tickets to “Hamilton?”
But if you have $1,800 for the last row of the balcony or slightly over $6,100 for the third row of the orchestra, you can get tickets during Pride. The show is genius and it more than deserves all the awards it’s received, but only you can decide if tickets on the secondary market are worth it.
If you want to see live theater and you haven’t planned ahead, here’s what you need to know
However, remember: “Hamilton” does have a lottery. Enter every day at lottery.broadwaydirect.com/show/hamilton/. You’ve got about a 1 in 10,000 chance to be able to purchase seats in the front row for $10, but it takes just a moment to enter and you could win. I personally know two people who’ve hit it.
For shows besides “Hamilton,” if you really just want to wing it, lotteries are definitely the way to go. The Today Tix app lists most of them, and they let you know by email if you win. You’ll have an hour to claim your seats. You don’t know where the seats will be, but if you win you’ll save a lot of money. Today Tix also sells discounted seats. Buy on the app and you’re generally directed to meet the concierge out front for your tickets.
Many shows also offer rush tickets. You’ll usually have to be on line when the box office opens, and not all performances offer these seats. They vary in price, so before you head out check individual show’s websites for specific information. For individual theater policies, see broadwayforbrokepeople.com
The TKTS booth at 47th and Broadway seems almost quaint these days, but it generally has higher discounts (up to 50 percent), and the helpful staff will give you recommendations on seats. It opens at 10 a.m. for matinees (11 on Sundays) and 3 p.m. for evening shows (2 on Tuesdays). There’s a separate line exclusively for plays, which is usually a lot shorter. It’s worth it to download the TKTS app, which will let you see what’s up when the booth is open and what’s been up in the past week to give you a sense of what may be available in the days ahead.
There are also TKTS booths at the South Street Seaport and at MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn, and shows and discounts can vary by location and day.
Signing up for TheaterMania also gives you access to offers that you purchase with codes through Telecharge or Ticketmaster. Two orchestra seats for “The Color Purple” at $89 each were directly adjacent to two regularly priced seats at $140 each. You can also use the TheaterMania app to get discounts at the box office. We also found that TheaterMania consistently had the better discounts and gave you the ability to pick an exact seat. Additional fees vary depending on where you buy, and they can add as much as $25 per ticket. Broadway.com had the highest fees we found, so if you have time, shop around.
Speaking of paying full price or more, most shows now offer premium seating. This varies by show and can range from an incremental $20-$30 over the cost of a standard orchestra seat to multiples of two to three times. The nice thing about buying tickets online is that most of the sites show discounted, full price, and resale tickets on one screen so you can make a choice based on your budget.
If you really want to go old school, try walking up to the box office. I’ve often had good luck on the day of a show. If you’re willing to take singles and pay full price, you may get great seats — even house seats not used at the last minute. The advantage of going to the box office, even if you aren’t trying for last minute tickets, is that you do save a lot on additional fees. (Incidentally, in the six years we’ve been doing this round up, this is the first time we’ve found tickets to “Wicked” at all prices at such short notice. And, the current cast features the wonderful Michelle Lee. So, if you haven’t seen it…)
The foregoing is really about Broadway shows, and there’s plenty of great stuff happening Off Broadway as well. If you have never had the experience of Shakespeare in the Park, that’s worth a day of lounging in Central Park to get free tickets and my favorite New York summer activity. Currently on is the all-female “The Taming of the Shrew” (through June 26) with Janet McTeer as Petruchio and Cush Jumbo as Kate. Go to PublicTheater.org for full information on getting the free seats or sign up for the lottery on the Today Tix app.
Here are some of my personal recommendations, and we looked at shows that opened in the season that just ended and performances from June 22 through June 30, but bear in mind that availability can change daily. For shows open a year or more, availability was generally very good at all price levels and discounts.
Danielle-Brooks-and-Kyle-Scatliffe in “The Color Purple.” | MATTHEW MURPHY
THE COLOR PURPLE
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
242 W. 45th St.
Cynthia Erivo walked away with the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical as Miss Celie. It’s a breathtaking, historic, and unforgettable performance. She’s in great company, though. Danielle Brooks is magnificent as Sofia, and Heather Headley makes a triumphant return to Broadway as Shug Avery in a powerhouse performance. Director John Doyle’s Tony-winning, pared down revival focuses on the characters and features one of the best ensembles going. Not to be missed.
Availability: Good. Tickets are available at all price points, from $59 in the rear mezzanine to $195 for premium orchestra.
Helen Hayes Theatre
240 W. 44th St.
The Tony and Drama Desk-winner for Best Play is a masterpiece. The acting won an ensemble award from the Drama Desk and Tonys for Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell. Playwright Stephen Karam’s story of a family in crisis on Thanksgiving is both timeless in its themes and very contemporary.
Availability: Decent. Good availability for premium seats at all performances for $250. Some side orchestra at $50, others at $145, sometimes right next to each other, and some in the mezzanine for $145.
Jessie Mueller in “Waitress.” | JOAN MARCUS
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
256 W. 47th St.
The amazing Jessie Mueller brings her big heart and bigger voice to the role of Jenna as she tries to find herself in love — and lose herself in her pie-making. The country-infused score by Sara Bareilles is infectious and supporting performances by Keala Settle, Kimiko Glenn, and Drew Gehling are outstanding.
Availability: Currently one of the best-selling shows on Broadway, there are premium and resale seats available. Full-price tickets are mostly side mezzanine, and the best deals are on partial-view tickets at $109.
Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski in “She Loves Me.” | JOAN MARCUS
SHE LOVES ME
Roundabout at Studio 54
254 W. 54th St.
This charming, intimate musical from 1963 has been given a jewel box-like revival with splendid performances by Laura Benanti, Jane Krakowski, and Zachary Levi. If you’re feeling a bit of old-fashioned romance, this is the perfect date musical.
Availability: Decent. Lots of rear mezzanine at $52 and rear orchestra at $157. Today Tix runs a lottery, and this has been up regularly at the TKTS booth.
SCHOOL OF ROCK
Winter Garden Theatre
1634 Broadway at W. 51 St.
This show is so much fun. In a different year, Alex Brightman might have walked off with the Tony for his megawatt performance as Dewey Finn. Surrounded by a gang of talented kids and with an infectious score by no less than Andrew Lloyd Webber, this show is pure fun.
Availability: Good. Lots of side orchestra ranging from $109-$150 and some front and side mezzanine at a $150, only a few rear mezzanine at $99. No discounts are available during this period.
Ben Whishaw in “The Crucible.’ | JAN VERSWEYVELD
Walter Kerr Theatre
219 W. 48th St.
This one is controversial. I adored Ivo van Hove’s contemporary setting and the performances of Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo, and Saoirse Ronan. It’s a chilling interpretation that clearly indicts the witch-hunt mentality of many in today’s political world. Poetic and heartfelt, it gave new poignancy to this play. Some Miller purists were not so impressed.
Availability: Good. Lots of side orchestra and mezzanine at $149. The balcony has seats at $42, but you’ll be very high up, and the lack of legroom can be demanding with the nearly three-hour running time.
ON YOUR FEET
1535 Broadway at W. 45th St.
Yes, it’s a jukebox musical about Gloria and Emilio Estefan. It’s also high-energy, filled with wonderful singing and dancing that will leave you smiling. It’s surprisingly heartfelt, completely entertaining, and great for a festive night out. Plus, performances by Ana Villafañe as Gloria and Josh Segarra as Emilio are terrific. Choreographer Sergio Trujillo gets the show on its feet with Latin-inspired dance that’s spectacular.
Availability: Good. Many seats in all price ranges from $55 for the rear mezzanine to $159 for center orchestra and $199 for premium seats. If you’re on an aisle in the orchestra, you may literally be on your feet as the cast dances by.
AN ACT OF GOD
222 W. 45th St.
Sean Hayes plays the omnipotent one in a reprise of the show that Jim Parsons did last year. I was surprised to find I enjoyed the show even more with Hayes in the God role. He’s appealing and hilarious, with impeccable timing. The show itself is not exactly a divine comedy, but Hayes’ charisma more than compensates.
Availability: Good. Full price orchestra seats are $149, but Theatermania discounts are at $99, often for comparable seats. Surprisingly the only discounts in the mezzanine were at the rear for $59, while other mezzanine seats are $149. That’s especially funny because Hayes steals a line from Dame Edna and addresses the “poor people” in the mezzanine.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
1681 Broadway at W. 53rd St.
I’m somewhat in the minority on this one, perhaps because I’ve seen so many productions over the years. Danny Burstein as Tevye was too small and naturalistic for my taste, but many of my colleagues and friends have adored this production. And Burstein did take the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. I’m always happy to see Jessica Hecht, here as Golde, in anything. Bartlett Sher’s production looks and sounds very good. If you’ve never seen “Fiddler,” you might enjoy this one.
Availability: Good. Lots of seats in all sections at all performances, though orchestra is mostly on the sides. Theatermania deals give you $97 in the orchestra, and there are plenty of $35 seats in the rear mezzanine at all performances. The Broadway is a barn, and you’ll be pretty far from the stage, but then you’ll see a musical theater classic for the price of a couple of drinks.
Brian Stokes Mitchell and the cast of “Shuffle Along.” | JULIETA CERVANTES
Music Box Theatre
239 W. 45th St.
I was very mixed on this show as a piece of theater, but I’m never mixed when it comes to seeing performances from Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, or Billy Porter. If the story drags a bit, these star turns more than make up for it. They say there’s no late seating, and they really mean it. Many people stood at the back for Act One at the performance I saw. Good.
Availability: Limited. Side and rear orchestra at a discounted price of $109. Some center orchestra at $169, and very spotty mezzanine at $109 for the front and $59 for the rear.
A list like this can never be comprehensive. I haven’t mentioned long runs like “Kinky Boots” or “Phantom” that have big tourist appeal and are occasionally on TKTS. “The Book of Mormon” has availability, but mostly at premium prices of $250 or more. If you haven’t seen them, “Something Rotten,” “The King and I,” “Fun Home,” and “Jersey Boys” are still going strong with discounts available at most performances.
Whatever you choose, we hope it adds to your celebration and makes this Pride even more memorable.