I get this question a lot. Part of it is just luck. I work in theater and I am lucky to have talented friends working all over the city, too. So when there’s a discount or a comp to be had, I’m on it. Beyond that, though, the truth is I can afford it because I rarely pay more than $50 for a ticket. And here’s how I manage it:
1. I get one membership each season to wherever looks to have the best season. Last year it was playwrightshorizons, this year it’s publictheaterny. It’s tax-deductible and I can get cheaper tickets.
2. I go to TKTS or use TodayTix** for discounted Broadway and off-Broadway tickets. I’d also recommend a TDF membership if you are eligible (full-time student or teacher, recent grad, union member, etc) so you can get the TKTS booth deals and a LOT more for very little. Goldstar is a similar ticket site that’s free to join but I’ve never used them.
**If you sign up with my code, AAJDA, you get $20 off your first ticket order. So do that.
3. I take advantage of all the discounts available from individual theaters, including many for the 30-and-under crowd. Most of these are free to sign up:
LincTix for Lincoln Center
HipTix for Roundabout
29&Up at 59e59theatersblog
CheapTix at New York Theater Workshop
HotTix, Front Row Sundays, and Live for Five Lotto at playwrightshorizons
Back 20 at Atlantic Theater
99-Cent Sundays at Soho Rep
30 Under 30 at MCC
Greenseats at Irish Rep
30 Under 30 at Manhattan Theater Club
4. Broadway for Broke People is a great resource for all the lotto/standby/SRO/etc policies for everything currently on Broadway. I don’t do this very often because I’m usually working during the day but if you have the time, go for it. Especially if the weather is miserable. I’ve seen some great shows for cheap because it was snowing or raining and nobody wanted to be out in the lotto or standby line.
Those are all my secrets. Have at. Enjoy some cheap(er) theater!