Yes, you can score last-minute discounted tickets to Broadway shows, even though theater tickets are more expensive than ever. Sometimes, you can't even get in—many shows sell out months before they open. But if you're willing to be spontaneous and accept whatever seat is available, here are three smart solutions:
Lottery. Many Broadway productions run a day-of-show drawing, usually offering 10 to 25 tickets at drastically reduced prices, as low as $20. Give your name at the theater two to four hours before curtain, and then return 30 minutes to an hour before the show (specific instructions depend on the venue) to see if you're a winner (each winner can buy two tickets). At press time, participating shows included Avenue Q, Hairspray, Rent, and Wicked. To find other shows that offer lottery seating, call individual box offices.
Theatre Development Fund. This nonprofit agency (212/221-0885; tdf.org) subsidizes admission to plays and musicals for seniors, students, and teachers; a $27.50 annual fee gets members discounts of up to 70 percent on dozens of shows. A full list is on their Web site.
Playbill. Membership to the popular theater magazine's Playbill Club (212/557-5757; playbill.com) is free and carries all kinds of discounts—up to 60 percent off for theater, opera, dance, and occasionally restaurants and hotels. The only downside: You have to be willing to receive five to eight e-mails a week to find out about the best deals.
From 6 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, you can get in free to the permanent exhibitions at several national museums, including the Picture Gallery, the New National Gallery, and the Egyptian Museum. For a full list, visit smb.spk-berlin.de.