01 August 2010 ~ Comments Off

How To Win The Wicked Ticket Lottery – NYC

We’re just back from a day trip into New York City where for the price of $50 (plus $2.50 theater fee) we enjoyed front row center seats to one of Broadway’s hottest shows – Wicked.  It might sound like an expensive night at the theater – until you understand that these front row center seats were to the 18th longest-running show in Broadway history and the 25th longest-running show in musical theatre history. And they normally cost $603 a pair – -if you can even get them. How’d we do this? Ticket lottery. It’s easy, free to enter, and only requires a little bit of time – and some luck. Here’s the secret.

Most seats to Wicked are booked months in advance (about 9 months). While walk up tickets are often available they are usually only single seats and tend to be sold out a few hours before showtime. Premium seats (the ones offered by the raffle) retail for an eye popping $301.25 each.

The seats which this ticket lottery enables you to purchase (for $25 + $1.25 = $26.25 per ticket) are very front row and center. Nobody sits in front of you. You can touch the stage. The image below is an accurate rendition of what your view looks like from the front row.

If you haven’t heard of the Wicked show before, here’s the background as listed in Wikipedia:

Wicked is a musical with songs and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. The story is loosely based on the best-selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, a parallel novel of the 1939 film of L. Frank Baum’s classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz.

It is currently the 18th longest-running show in Broadway history and the 25th longest-running show in musical theatre history.

Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, and her relationship with Galinda, later Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Their friendship struggles through their opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, their reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace. The plot is set before and during Dorothy’s arrival from Kansas, and includes several references to well-known scenes and dialogue in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz as a backstory.

Wicked premiered at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco in May 2003. In October 2003, the show premiered on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre. It was produced by Universal Pictures and directed by Joe Mantello, with musical staging by Wayne Cilento. The original stars were Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard.[1] Although the production received mixed reviews and was panned by The New York Times, it has proved to be a favorite among patrons. The Broadway production’s success spawned productions in Chicago, Los Angeles, London’s West End, San Francisco, as well as international productions in Japan, Germany and Australia, and two North American tours that have visited over 30 cities in Canada and the United States.

How To Win $300 Seats To Wicked

First I should explain that the seats aren’t completely free. You must pay (cash only) $25 plus $1.25 for a total of $26.25 per seat. And you can win the right to purchase a maximum of two seats.

To enter make your way to the Schwartz Theater located at the corner of 51st and 8th Ave in New York City. The raffle time is 2.5 hours prior to that evening’s show.

At the 2.5 hour mark they open a door at the far end of the theater. You individually write your name on a blank slip of paper and hand it to the theater employee. At 2 hours prior to showtime they stop accepting any names. The number of tickets drawn varies by show. On the night that we won two tickets (or more accurately the right to purchase two heavily discounted front row seats) they offered 13 pairs of tickets.

The rules are:

  • You must have a picture ID
  • Cash only
  • You must be present to win (they will not call your cell phone)
  • Multiple people in a group can enter but an individual can only win once – so don’t have people put your name in twice
  • Tickets are usually provided in pairs – though on some evenings singles are available and they may ask you to write how many you wish to purchase

Do NOT be dismayed by the large numbers of people milling about. On both nights when we’ve entered the drawing there were well over 300 people waiting to see if they were chosen. Enter anyway. It’s completely free and there are multiple ticket purchase opportunities (13 names drawn on the night we were there).

If you don’t win the ticket lottery – try walking inside to see if any last minute tickets are available. There’s usually a line by the standby window as well as sometimes an ability to purchase a ticket or two (at full price) through the regular Wicked ticket windown.

If you’ve seen Wicked before – from seats further back – watching the show from the front is entirely different. You’re able to hear many of the songs without amplification as the performer’s sing. It’s also fun to look down into the orchestra pit (we counted about 18 different musicians seated in a tiny space).

Good luck!


Wayne Schulz is a CT CPA and consultant. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, New York City, blogging, technology and searching for the perfect smartphone. He lives in Glastonbury CT with his two children. Contact Wayne by email at wayne@wayneschulz.com. (Important: We are not the manufacturer or seller of any items we've blogged so unfortunately we are unable to provide support or answer questions about them).

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