Broadway Discounts Are a Millennial Student’s Best Friend Series Part 1: Theatre Development Fund

broadway lights-2

Broadway doesn’t come cheap. If I were a millionaire, my first impulse would be to snag every full-price Broadway ticket.

In the Broadway musical adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the showstopper “Great Big Stuff” hurls out this laughter-inducing quip: “I can finally afford to see a Broadway show!”

When I was living in Houston, Texas, I dreamed of faraway land of fantasies and wonder of Hamilton and the Comet of 1812. But they’re too pricey to fly from city just to catch a show. Because current productions aren’t available on DVD or Netflix, they aren’t easy to access.

Now having moved to New York City, I confronted plenty of tricks and trades of bargains. It’s not perfect: There are shows too far out of the reach (Curse you, sold out and overpriced Hamilton tickets!) but a student status and familiarity of deals can assuage your thrifty habits.

In 2014, LA Weekly cited that an average Broadway ticket costs a daunting $100, but truth is, ticket prices are often in flux. That does not account for high-demand productions like Hamilton, Hello Dolly, or Once Upon an Island. As a graduate student, I don’t have my wallet full enough to buy $100 tickets on a whim.

First, ask yourself how much you are willing to spend per month on tickets.

My personal goal: 2-3 shows a month. I aim for about $50 or below for each ticket. I’ll have money left for groceries.

Theatre Development Fund Membership

If you’re a student or recent graduate, you are eligible for membership with the Theatre Development Fund (the TDF).

Prices for Broadway productions are often fixed. As of my 2017-2018 membership, I encountered these prices:

For musicals: $51

For plays: $45-46

Yearly membership fee is $35, which is a fair trade off to access $51 tickets, about 50% of the average ticket price.

(Psssss, I Googled the promo code MetroNY on Retail Me Not, which knocked my first-year membership fee down to $29. If this code had expired by the time you read this, Google around to hunt for an additional code.)

I give fair warning: TDF seat selection is a wild card. Before a purchase, it will warn you whether seating is in mezzanine or balcony, but you will not be informed of the exact seating arrangement once you order your ticket. I can credit it for not shoving me at the far rear or the balcony. Once in a while, I got sweet deal of center orchestra seating for School of Rock or center mezzanine for the Cats revival for a grander scope.


My scope of the mezzanine view of the Cats revival, courtesy of TDF.

Every so often, I was planted at the far side of mezzanine, but a decently close to the front. At one point for Anastasia, TDF put me on the front-row orchestra. Sounds wonderful but there was this catch: It was the orchestra-left side farthest from the center, an angled neck-straining viewing experience.

I find that TDF discount has more variety of Broadway productions than other sites that offers discounts for $51. Average traditional student discounts of $51 often regulates you to the third-floor balcony seating, which I find to be far enough to deem “riiiiiiip-off.” But TDF’s $51 musical tickets have situated me in orchestra or the second-floor mezzanine and never placed me on the 3rd floor balcony. If you are chancing on a balcony seat, the purchase will warn you beforehand. Long-running and high-demand shows like Phantom of the Opera or Hello Dolly will appear, but don’t expect Wicked, The Lion King, or Hamilton to magically pop up one day (I’m keeping my eyes peeled for those).

Ordering through TDF online is ideal for a shut-in introvert like me. I don’t have to rush to a physical location or wait in line for the suspense of obtaining bargains. I never expect the TDF price to radically hike up. Few times, they have sales for tomorrow’s performances. It’s also great for long-term planning. Depending on the available line-up of show dates, TDF allows me to plan ahead with show-dates. I got my Spongebob Squarepants ticket a few weeks before I saw that nautical delight.

Be prepare to email a photo of your student ID or enrollment form as proof of eligibility at within 10 days of starting membership.

Up next: TKTS Booths and other discount methods



By Caroline Cao

Carol is a queer Vietnamese-Houstonian Earthling surviving under the fickle weather of New York. When she’s not seeing a Broadway production, she’s buried in her nonfiction MFA homework like Hermione Granger and her Hogwarts studies. When not angsting over her first poetry manuscript or a pilot screenplay about space samurais, Carol is cooking her own Chinese food instead of buying take-outs and dreaming of winning Hamilton lotto tickets. She chronicles the quirks of New York living and writing, runs writing and scripting services, and lends her voice to Birth Movies Death, The Mary SueFilm School Rejectsand The Script Lab. She’s also lurking in the shadows waiting for you to follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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