There is a secret to seeing Broadway shows, specifically The Book of Mormon, that casual viewers, and sometimes even well-versed theatre-goers, aren’t aware of: rush and lottery tickets.
The way you can get these cheap tickets varies from show to show. At the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, home to The Book of Mormon, their lottery policy is simple. You can enter the lottery beginning at two and a half hours before curtain, and at two hours before curtain, they draw names (usually about twelve pairs).
You are only allowed to enter once per person, but each entry can be for one or two tickets – a nice advantage if you are in a group of two, but an awkward choice if you are with a group of three or larger. Often, massive crowds of people will swing by at this time just to see if they are able to win, so with popular shows, you don’t have the greatest odds.
However, rush tickets usually don’t have the same mosh pit of posh theatre-goers, and they are how I saw The Book of Mormon four times. At the Eugene O’Neill, their rush policy is vague enough that few people really understand how it works, which is why (if you do the research, as you are doing by reading this blog) they can sometimes be a sure thing.
Sidenote: If you are thinking, how do I just buydiscounted Book of Mormon tickets then this is the best guide you’ll find and also includes coupon codes. If you are looking for advice on seating, then you should read our Eugene O’Neil Seating Chart guide.
The main difference between lottery and rush tickets at the Eugene O’Neill are these:
- Lottery tickets are $32 each, and rush tickets are $27.
- A lottery ticket guarantees you a seat. Rush tickets are standing room only, meaning that you will be standing behind the orchestra section for the entire two and a half hours of the musical. This can be seen as a real negative for some people, but if you are able-bodied, I can assure you that the time will fly and you won’t even notice you’re standing.
- After the lottery has ended, you can get in line for a rush ticket, but your chances are slim. However, if you are in line for a rush ticket, you can still enter the lottery when the time comes. (One time, I witnessed a particularly happy and vocal Australian win a lottery seat from the line for rush tickets. So it can happen.)
To get a rush ticket at the Eugene O’Neill, you really have to commit an entire afternoon. Two times, I’ve gotten to the line at noon. On a Thursday, I was eighth back in line, and on a Friday, I was first. In this way, the line can be unpredictable. If you have the time, it’s best to just go as early as you can and wait it out. If you are pressed for time, the good news is that you can just count the people in line and determine your ability to get tickets with near certainty, since they only give out about twenty tickets to rush. It’s simple math. If there are less than twenty people, get in line. If there are over thirty people in line, skip it. The in-between is where you have to weigh your desire to see the show against the odds of getting a ticket.
Some general rush tips if you are committing your time to the Eugene O’Neill or elsewhere:
- Bring a friend. Company is severely underrated in the city.
- If it’s cold, bring something foldable or storable to sit on (like a blanket). You will want to sit, but you will not want to sit on the freezing pavement. Trust me and trust my battle wounds.
- Bring things to do. Even if you and your friend are taking shifts, and even if you find yourself surrounded by a talkative group of people, you will need a book to read or a game to play or just something.
- That said, pack light. Not all theatres will have a place to store your bag and your lawn chair, and the ones that do (like the Eugene O’Neill) will charge you for it. As they do.
- Bring cash. Some theatres, for some odd reason, do not accept credit or debit cards for their rush tickets.
- Plan to line up early, regardless of whether or not it is a popular show. Go half an hour earlier than you plan. Go earlier than that. The earlier you are, the safer you are.
- If the rush policy calls for you to be there before the box office opens, grab a cup of coffee and wake yourself up early. If the policy calls for you to be there before curtain, look up nearby restaurants. Nourishment is essential and often overlooked. You don’t want to pass out during the play/musical you committed so much time to.
- Lastly, research. Sometimes rush policies are only open to students or on nights when tickets are sold out. It’s obviously incredibly important to know what you’re getting into. Playbill has a really well-updated article on various lottery and rush policies of theatres.
Good luck, and if you need a fallback, don’t forget to check TickPick!