How does TKTS work? Guide to buying cheap Broadway tickets

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TKTS can be confusing, and not just because its name has no vowels. The go-to source for cheap same-day or next-day Broadway tickets sells what seats the box office has left for as much as 50 percent off, which means you can see “Mean Girls” some nights and still have enough dough left for dinner after. But what about those long lines at the booths? Relax. We’ve got this. Read on and see just how TKTS works.

Step 1: Head to a NYC-based TKTS booth

If you’ve bought tickets at TKTS, it was probably at the booth in Times Square under the big red stairs at 1564 Broadway and 47th Street. That booth is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for same-day matinees and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for same-day evening shows. Insider tip: Don’t get there when the booth opens, because that’s when the lines are longest. Instead, get there about an hour and a half later. Sometimes, you’ll be able to walk right up to the ticket window. Which brings us to insider tip #2: If you’re seeing a play instead of a musical, go directly to the Times Square booth’s window #1, which sells tickets to plays only. There’s hardly ever a wait for those.

The wait is always shorter at TKTS’ satellite booths at Lincoln Center (61 W. 62nd St.) and South Street Seaport (190 Front St.) Not only do they sell discounted tickets to the same shows as those in Times Square, but they also give you the chance to score seats for next-day matinees. The Lincoln Center booth is open Monday to Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The Seaport TKTS booth is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.. on Sunday.

No matter which TKTS booth you visit, remember: Broadway tickets aren’t cheap. Even with a 50-percent discount, they average around $60 to $100. A $6 service fee per ticket supports Theatre Development Fund (TDF) programs. And yes, the booths take credit cards as well as cash.

Step 2: Download the app

The TKTS app doesn’t sell tickets, but it does let you know which shows are available for any given performance, and at what prices.

You may also consider joining TDF. For a $40 annual fee, those in qualifying groups — including civil servants, military personnel, teachers, students and many others — can buy tickets for as little as $11.

Step 3: Check which shows are being offered

Here’s where the TKTS app comes in handy. You can also check the TDF website before you hit the booth. It helps to zero in on several possibilities, in case your first pick is sold out. And some of Broadway’s toughest tickets — like “Hamilton,” “Wicked” and “The Lion King,” for example — have yet to show up here.

Step 4: Be a return customer

If you plan on enjoying a few shows within a week, you can take advantage of some VIP treatment with the 7-Day Fast Pass line at the Times Square location. This line is always much shorter: Just present the ticket stub of a show you’ve seen in the past seven days to prove you’re serious about theater.

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