It’s that time of year again, when a plethora of off-Broadway plays and musicals offer an enormous discount for theatergoers in The Big Apple.  Here’s how it works: all participating shows – and there are forty this year – will sell any remaining tickets for their current performance for only $20, beginning twenty minutes before curtain.  It’s a win-win; the producers get to pack the house, while locals and tourists alike get to see something that might not have otherwise been in their budget.

Unlike Broadway musicals, these off-Broadway gems are spread out all over the city.  While there are several options in the heart of the theater district, some of these shows are playing much farther downtown.  The key to making your 20at20 a success is to create a plan.  When I was first attempting to see shows during this exciting time, I failed miserably; I tried to see one show, and when it was sold out, I went home and ordered take-out.  A rookie no more, I now accept the challenge and get my friends involved as well.

Open up two windows in your browser, one for the 20at20 site, and another for Google maps.  Look at the list of participating shows and take note of anything that sounds interesting to you.  Start finding them on Google maps to see where the areas are that have the highest concentration of shows you’d like to see.  From there it’s quite simple.  Hit up your first show twenty minutes before, and if they don’t have tickets available, sprint to the next theatre on your list.

Unfortunately, and I learned this one by mistake as well, you can only purchase one ticket, so all members of your party must be present.  I thought I would trick the system by waiting in line for one show while a friend was waiting in line for a different show.  We were both successful in acquiring a ticket, but we both saw our shows…alone.  A great time, yes, but not what we were planning on.

So what are you waiting for?  You have until February 10, 2013 to pack in as many off-Broadway as you can handle.  And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous and want to up the ante, if you see seven shows, you can earn a free dinner for two!*


*the 20at20 website states: See any 7 of the participating 20at20 shows from 1/22/13 through 2/10/13 and receive a FREE voucher for dinner for 2 at an area restaurant! Mail in your ticket stubs once you have seen 7 shows and we will send you your voucher while supplies last.

Culture 20at20: Off-Broadway on a Budget