Going to the theater in New York is a very special evening. It will be better if you plan ahead to be prepared.
1. TheaterTicket Reservations
Make reservations – often far ahead – if you want to see specific shows. See Telecharge.com for a list of Broadway shows and their show times. Do some research online to get a sense of whether you would enjoy the show. Titles don’t tell the whole story. (Tip: The Book of Mormon is definitely not religious).
2. Consider Discount Tickets
TheaterMania.com has discount tickets for both Broadway and Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway shows and news and reviews.
The TKTS booth in Times Square has same-day discounted tickets to dozens of Broadway and Off Broadway shows. The Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS booth is located at Father Duffy Square (intersection of Broadway & 7th Ave at 47th Street.) You wait in line which is sometimes short, sometimes long. Availability changes as tickets are offered or or sold. Some people love the fun sense of serendipity and some people don’t. Check their site for sale hours.
3. Plan What to Wear to the Theater
New York is a fairly dressy town, although often more “business casual” than it used to be. Old blue jeans will look out of place (unless you’re a rock star). Select pieces that fit your personal sense of style – slacks, blouses, heels and knee-length dresses.
Make sure you also have comfortable walking shoes in this pedestrian-friendly city, as you’ll most likely be be doing some walk to or from Broadway theaters, dinner or to transportation. Wait to put on your heels just before dinnertime and don a pair of comfortable flats in the meantime.
4. Check Theater Show Times
Specific plays which may have different performance times. In general they are as follows:
Monday – No performances
Tuesday through Sunday – Evenings at 7, 7:30 or 8
Matinees – Wednesday and Sunday at 3 (Some shows have no matinees.)
But there are many individual differences – For instance Lion King and Wicked have only one matinee. It’s at 2pm Saturday to accommodate the children.
If it’s important to you to see a specific actor, do keep checking the play’s site since it’s possible they won’t be appearing at a specific performance. It’s a grueling life with so many performances so actors can fall ill or be injured.
5. Traveling to the Theater
There are several ways to get around New York City, but the least efficient is by your own car. NYCGo, the NYC official information site, encourages visitors to think outside the box when they’re in The Big Apple and take the NYC subway, walk, hail a cab. HopStop is a very useful New York City Transit site which will give you directions and time from your starting point to any destination for subway, bus or walking. (Hint: Use it for all your New York excursions.) Taxis can be an attractive option but difficult to catch on the street before and after showtimes. Limo services are another possibility.
6. At the Theater
Do double check the curtain time because they vary. Plan to arrive 30 minutes early because there will be a crowd out front and it takes some time to get to your seat and settled. If you’re picking up tickets at the Will Call window add an extra 15 minutes.
Do plan to go the restroom before the performance. The ladies rooms are small and they have notoriously long lines at intermission. Getting to them usually involves stairways.
At the end of the performance, plan to stay through the curtain calls.. The actors have made a big effort and need to hear the applause. These theaters are quite small so they don’t take long to empty out in any case.
Some performers (even famous ones) will sign Playbills at the stage door afterwards. Ask the usher if you’re interested.
7. Dinner After the Show
This is a marvelous traditional way to end the evening. If you choose a restaurant within walking distance, you can to relax before dealing with transportation. New York has a huge number of choices but so it’s important to do research. Be sure to make reservations. When you reserve tell them the show that you’re seeing so they know when to expect you. For reviews Zagat and Yelp can help.
Then relax with a delicious dinner while you review the play and evening.