Discount Theater and Entertainment Clubs of NYC

Illuminated Times Square at evening - is the most popular tourist spot

By Ruth Antrich

With the overwhelming array of choices for live entertainment available to us here in New York City, it is hard to decide which shows or concerts to pick. On top of that, ticket prices can be prohibitively expensive unless you have season tickets, or don’t mind queuing up at the TKTS booth. Luckily, there are other ways for NYC boomers to get their entertainment and culture fix without breaking the bank. One of the best is to join an organization that offers deeply discounted or free tickets to a wide range of live events. Here are a few clubs to check out:

GOLDSTAR

Free membership.
Goldstar is a free service that offers discounted tickets from thousands of venues. Instead of letting seats go empty, venues list them with Goldstar to sell to its members. Groups of tickets bought together guarantees everyone will sit together, although you won’t know where until you get to the show. Their events include theater, music, comedy and sports, walking tours, festivals and even dance and sushi-making classes.

AUDIENCE EXTRAS

$85 annual membership plus $30 deposit for tickets.
Audience Extras calls itself a “papering” system (i.e. provides additional audience members when needed). AE encourages audiences to discretely fill a venue, by keeping a low profile but also encourages its members to publicize a good show – so these are like getting free samples.

THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND (TDF)

Membership: $30/year.
TDF members are able to purchase discounted tickets online and in advance for up to 70% off the full price. Members must be from certain groups, for example, full-time teachers, union members, retirees (62 and over), civil service employees, not-for-profit employees, performing arts professionals, armed forces and clergy. Tickets to shows such as Big Apple Circus, Blue Man Group, Disgraced, Doctor Zhivago, Gigi, Fuerza Bruta: Wayra, Hand to God, If/Then, It’s Only a Play, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and hundreds more concerts, theatre and dance productions were recently made available to TDF members. In addition, TDF also runs the TKTS 20% off to half-price booths (Times Square, South Street Seaport, and Brooklyn). You can buy tickets online to be picked up at the box office 30 minutes before the show, but you will not know where you sit until you get your tickets. Otherwise, check online which shows are available before going to the booth to buy your tickets on the day of a performance.

CLUB FREE TIME (CFT)

$19.95 annual membership, $7.95 for 3 months. (One and one month memberships are available, too.)
Theatre, music, talks, readings, tours, galleries, dance, movies, fairs and workshops are on its roster. Currently (mid March, 2015) CFT has 222 free concerts, 116 free theater performances, 99 free tours, 52 free poetry readings, to name only a few. There is a $4.50 fee per ticket plus the advertised price (which might be zero). For example: A current chamber music concert and wine event that is regularly $60 is $0 to members (so that’s a $4.50 service charge per ticket). They also obtain free and discounted tickets for theater (off-Broadway and sometimes Broadway), opera, classical music and jazz concerts, dance performances, children shows, comedy clubs, cabaret, as well as exclusive events, such as singles gatherings and discussion groups.

GOLD CLUB

Memberships start at $99 per year or $10.99 per month. Most shows are complimentary with a service charge per ticket of around $4.50 each. The Gold Club is part of TheaterMania and provides theatergoers with exclusive opportunities to attend theater and live performances at complimentary and deeply discounted prices. Gold Club selections list comedies, musicals, plays, sports. Some of its past shows have included: Chicago, Jersey Boys, Once, Rock of Ages, Casa Valentina as well as many varieties of performances at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and other well-regarded venues.

Ruth Antrich is an English visual artist and music composer who has lived in NYC since the mid-1970s. www.ruthantrich.com

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