Personal Finance

5 Ways to Save on Theatre Tickets for Plays, Musicals

Theater has always been a staple of entertainment throughout human history. However, prices are so expensive these days—here are some ways to score cheaper tickets for theater.

With ticket fraud being the chief concern, the days of buying low-priced, last-minute tickets to events are waning. This is particularly true for the theatre-going crowd, generally comprising customers who like security and planning more than a few minutes ahead. Still, there are savings to be had, even when finding tickets for less than face value to the next big play or musical on or off Broadway in New York. No matter your taste -- or city -- here are five ways to save on your next trip to the theater.

1. There's an App for That

When in doubt, check your smartphone, tablet or computer. There are promotion code aggregators (like BroadwayBox, Entertainment-Link, BroadwayInsider.com and TheaterMania); same-day ticket sellers (TodayTix, the Theatre Development Fund's TKTS); and legitimate secondary market sellers (like Stubhub). The United Kingdom has its own such sites (DiscountTheatre.com, Theatremonkey.com and lastminute.com to name a few.) When using one of these, shall we say, platforms, consider that discounted prices will be lower to less popular shows, on less popular nights, to matinees and while a play or musical is in previews or at the end of a less-than-spectacular run.

2. Rush to the Theatre... then Wait around

If you're free during the day and less technologically-savvy, there is a cheaper alternative to surfing online for discounts. Simply choose the show you'd like to see, visit that show's theater page and learn about their same-day sales policies. Many theaters, large and small, offer standing room-only or lottery tickets to those of you willing to show up a few hours early and wait in line. While each theater does things differently, these tickets are generally bought for cash at the box office; limited to two to four tickets per purchaser; and cost $40 or less.

3. Become a Member

As much as you might like to avoid, joining a loyalty program of some sort is one fast way to savings. Frequent visitors to the cinema can speak to this strategy for savings. In addition to some theaters' discounted pricing for children, seniors and, oftentimes, twentysomethings, theaters promote their membership as a means to see many shows for a smaller cost. If you have a favorite theater that consistently pumps out good programming, this may be a good way to go.

There are two more strategies for sign up-related savings. AudienceRewards.com is one way of racking up points for Telecharge and Ticketmaster purchases. You can also sign up for newsletters, and there are some decent ones (TheatreMania, Hit Show Club, NYTix.com and The Bottom Line, among them) out there.

4. The Rewards Credit Card Users Reap

There may not be a credit card that will reward you specifically for being an avid theater-goer, but there is a card that will reward you for spending money on plays and musicals, whether you pay full price or half of the price. What's the best option for you? A great flat-rate, cash-back credit card. Just make sure your sticking to a budget, keeping your entertainment expenses in check.

5. Other Strategies to Consider

There are four more rather simple ways to find discounted tickets, which is one simple way among many more to save up a bunch of money quickly. First of all, pay attention to the calendar. There are advertised deals around "Broadway Week," in New York, with 2-for-1-type deals to be had, and this theme continues on the local theater scene as well. Secondly, consider going to a show in a big group, as group discounts can represent major savings. You can also volunteer at the theater, perhaps passing out Playbills before the curtain falls, as stagehands are often given at least a standing-room "seat." If all else fails, our fourth option: Wait for your favorite or most anticipated play or musical to travel to your city's theater; chances are that the demand for tickets will be less when it's not playing in New York, Chicago or London.

Andrew Pentis

Andrew is a former Associate Editor at ValuePenguin. He focused on an array of personal finance topics, from money management to career development.