It’s not uncommon to hear about the cost of Hamilton tickets in the news these days. Leading up to Lin–Manuel Miranda’s last performance, tickets were showing up on StubHub for $20,000 a piece and the cheapest tickets available on that site was $1,350. Now that the original cast has departed, ticket prices should drop to a more normal cost, but the average Broadway ticket is still $102.
Fortunately, it’s summer! The best time of year to find inexpensive theater in the City. If you don’t have that much to spend on your theater habit, here are a few performances you can check out instead – for free!
Shakespeare in the Park
Perhaps the most famous of the free theater in NYC, Shakespeare in the Park puts on top caliber performances each summer, often with some really big name stars. You can get tickets by waiting in line at the box office in Central Park, entering the lottery at The Public Theater box office (every day at 11:30 AM) or entering their online lottery through the TodayTix app.
Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot!
If the long lines for Shakespeare in the Park put you off or the lottery just never seems to pan out for you, check out The Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot over at Bryant Park. The company also puts on additional free shows in a parking lot at 114 Norfolk Street between Rivington and Delancey Streets.
Summer is the best time to find free theater events. The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation schedule tons of free theater events throughout the summer that can be found on their official website. From Broadway showcases to an awful lot of Shakespeare to some awesome children’s theater, the offerings are varied and there’s probably something for everyone.
Ardea Arts is home of the Family Opera Initiative, which tries to bring opera to a wider audience. They recently created an opera called Bounce, based on The Flight of Icarus, that addressed teen violence and was performed on basketball courts. They’ve also addressed more light hearted topics with their child-geared Animal Tales and are currently working on a production called for next year called The 3 Astronauts: The Race to Mars.
Theatre for One
Before heading out, check the Theatre for One website and see if they’re performing anywhere. While it’s infrequent that this piece of experimental performance happens, when it does, it’s completely free and very unique. Each performance involves one audience member and one actor.
This company strives to bring classical works to a wider audience, so you’re likely to find some more Shakespeare here – though their repertoire does extend to classical Greek works and the occasional experimental work based on a classic (like their 2016 Lysisarah: “Let’s Make American Great Again”). Shows are performed in Riverside Park on West 89th Street and Riverside Drive.
Theater can seem like an elite, cost prohibitive activity sometimes, but these companies have put a lot of effort into bringing quality performances to anyone who wants to see them. Check out their performances schedules and catch a free show this summer.