A blizzard covering the entire North East corner of the US was predicted, surely no dodging this one. Finally a solid snow fall, the one I have been eagerly awaiting after two complacent winters in NYC of mere dustings, enough to wet our appetites, but barely sufficient for an appetizer. When you hear some 12+ inches of snow on the way, give or take an inch or two, this is the full monty…
Of course, my very next thought is that no one outside Manhattan will be able to travel in and out so I can finally get an affordable ticket for the continuously sold out “Book of Mormon”, right? The stars totally aligned as the storm was coming through – the subways were running, office workers were let out early to head home safely, no work on Saturday - this is my personal version of the perfect storm.
So when opportunity knocks, answer the door ~ “Carpe diem” ~ Seize the day before the day seizes you. For sold out shows like “Wicked” and “Book of Mormon” there is indeed a possibility for us mere mortals to purchase a ticket via the show’s lottery.
This is not a student rush ticket, nor standing room, nor a patient wait for the possibility of a cancellation ticket. A seat for “Book of Mormon” commands some $200+ … and that’s for mezzanine, an orchestra ticket is a month’s rent!
This lottery takes place some 2 ½ hours before each scheduled performance. To enter, you kinda/sorta queue up – can’t quite call it a line – at the theater, approximately ½ hour before the lottery is held promptly two hours prior to curtain. You fill out a card with your name and phone number, the state in which you reside, and your email address.
All these cards go into a drum and precisely two hours prior to curtain some 10 or 11 names are chosen and read aloud to the anxious crowd. If your name is picked, you can purchase two tickets.
You must be present to claim your ticket should your name be picked. Do not even think of padding this drum with additional cards, only one card per person, they DO check for duplicates.
The seats available are in the first row orchestra, and in the left and right balcony boxes with partial viewing. Thus a total of 22 seats are released for each performance, and if your name is picked you can purchase a ticket for the bargain basement price of $32.
You must be present to purchase your ticket should your name be chosen but to prevent scalping, you must show PHOTO ID upon theater entry, very important you know this.
Such a system unique to Broadway started when “Rent” opened on Broadway some 16 years ago. “Rent” immediately became a major sell out with a big ticket price. Yet there appeared something quite unseemly about not being able to afford to see a show about talented, financially struggling young artists who could not afford their tenement rent. So a lottery was established, wherein first row orchestra seats for twenty dollars were made available for each performance, and a theater ritual was born. “Wicked” also has a lottery.
However, various versions of cost efficient tickets are currently available for many other Broadway shows, so always ask. Student rush tickets; “20 x 20” ticket offers often appear for certain shows for a limited time; reduced costs for anyone under age 30; in the winter months, there were two for the price of one offers; Theater Development Fund tickets are available via their website should you have Union Membership and can afford $25 a year for membership in TDF. Of course, you are all aware of the “TKTS” Booths, yes? During snow storms always check with a show’s box office. For last Friday’s blizzard, the Roundabout was offering $20 tickets for “Talley’s Folly,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “Picnic” if you showed your metro card! How easy is that?
Don’t mean to keep you in suspense … I was not a winner. Oh well. On a snowy, windy icy night saturated with blizzard warnings, it seemed like half the population of the tri-state area was entering the lottery for “Book of Mormon.” Make of it what you will, I was GOBSMACKED! Well, great minds may think alike, but they don’t necessarily score tickets. Naturally you start up a conversation while you wait for this drawing, and everyone I spoke with had previously tried for a ticket via lottery on more then one occasion. One particular couple had attempted some 15 times to score a ticket. Out of the 11 names picked, 8 were from outside New York. I have no idea if this is significant, just passing it on.
And so…I did the next best thing. I caught “Avenue Q.”
With brazen, intriguing song titles like “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today,” the hysterical “The Internet is for Porn” and that all too familiar query “What Do You Do with a B. A. in English?” how can you lose? Remember, this show paved the way, thanks to the innovative Bobby Lopez and Co., for “Book of Mormon.”
I took advantage of the “20 x 20” offer which was about to expire that very weekend, wherein you show up 20 minutes before curtain and you can buy a ticket for $20 should seats be available. I caught “Forbidden Broadway” on a “20 x 20” offer last summer as well as “The Fantasticks.” So if I really want to rationalize things I saved myself $12 .
And this is what warms me up on a snowy night. I am NOT discouraged, I’ll be back and when I finally catch “Book of Mormon,” you’ll all be the first to know. But I think I’ll wait ‘till the weather warms up.
Contributed by Joanna Theodorou