6 tips from an insider.
By Rachel James (Treasurer/Writer)
Shakespeare in the Park is ending its season with the Sondheim classic Into The Woods. Yes, it's Into The Woods... IN THE WOODS! How cool is that going to be??? I’m sure my fellow Crazytown citizens will have many varying opinions on its artistic merits, but I’m here to share with you my expertise: getting tickets.
All the tickets for Shakespeare in the Park are free. There are various ways to procure these tickets, namely by waiting in line at the Delacorte Theater or having your name selected via the Virtual Line.
Everyone should be entering the Virtual Line on a daily basis. It’s just so easy, there’s no reason not to.
Shakespeare in the Park’s website outlines the basic rules very well, but I’m here to share with you the tips I’ve learned from working there on and off for several years. Some of these may seem obvious, but they work.
From Shakespeare in the Park's website. Start checking dates now!
1) Go the first week
Seriously, you guys. This is my best advice, especially for the run of this show. Once word is out that the show has begun again, lines will probably be long. However, not everyone remembers the show is starting this soon. Go early in the run, and you almost guarantee yourself a seat.
2) Go on a weekday
Simple fact: more people go on weekends than weekdays. Lines are shorter on weekdays and you are more likely to get a ticket. Again, once the collective New York conscience remembers this show is happening, the lines will get long. But you’ll have better luck on a weekday.
3) Check the forecast
There are no rainchecks for Shakespeare in the Park. I know, major bummer. However, do you know how badly everyone wants to finish the show? Really, really badly. They will never cancel a show before 8 o’clock. If they think they can finish before midnight, they will hold the show as long as possible for the rain to stop, wipe up the stage, and go on.
I remember during Twelfth Night in 2002, Jimmy Smits (who was playing Orsino) came out and helped the stagehands clean up. Needless to say, it got a major applauase and was quite exciting for the patrons who stuck it out. Class act, that one.
If there is rain in the forecast, the line will be lighter and therefore more likely for you to get tickets. Playbill had a great article a few years back on rain delay procedure that gives a better idea on how likely the show is to go on.
4) Check in with the box office
Everyday, one of the duties of the box office is to ask when the first person in line arrived, when the last person to receive a ticket arrived, and when the first person arrived in the stand by line. You can call them and find out this information for yourself. It will give you a good window into when you should arrive.
5) Borough days
For each run of the show, the Public distributes tickets for Shakespeare in the Park in each of the five boroughs. It’s the same policy as the Delacorte, two tickets per person, and you won’t have to travel so far from home. All of the borough distribution days for Into The Woods are in July, so plan accordingly.
6) Stand by line
This is the best kept secret of the Park. Any tickets that aren’t picked up in time, or that are turned back during the day, get distributed on the standby line starting at 6 o’clock. Did you see on the Vitual Line Policy that you must pick up your tickets by 7pm? Yeah, they’re serious. 7 o’clock rolls around and those tickets are given right to the people on the standby line. The borough distribution vouchers that have to be picked up by 7:30pm? If they’re not picked up, those go to the standby line, too. Especially early in the run, the standby line is the least amount of wait for the greatest reward. And for all you 9-5-ers who didn’t get tickets on the Virtual Line, go by the standby line when you get off work. Trust me, the box office staff doesn’t want you waiting if there’s no hope, so check with them before getting in line.
These are my best tips for getting tickets. Hopefully they will bring you much success! And if not, I hope you have a comfortable sleeping bag for that overnight wait. Enjoy!
RACHEL JAMES is a native New Yorker and theatre baby. Her plays have been produced by The 52nd Street Project and Starfish Theatreworks. She currently makes a living working the various box offices of Off-Broadway.
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