In our experience, there are two kinds of New Yorkers: the Broadway diehards—who always seem to have tickets to the hot show du jour before it’s on anyone else’s radar—and the rest of us, whose theatergoing is generally relegated to entertaining out-of-town guests once or twice a year or halfheartedly entering the Hamilton lottery when we remember to.
If you fall into the latter camp (like, ahem, yours truly), it’s probably not so much from lack of interest as it is from feeling overwhelmed by options (Mean Girls or Waitress?) and not wanting to spend a fortune. So when we heard about Broadway Roulette, it sounded like a tailor-made remedy for our decision paralysis.
Here’s how it works: Pick a date up to three months in advance, pay just $49 or $59 and find out what you’re seeing the day of the show. And since we know you’re wondering, every current show on Broadway is on the table—yes, that includes Hamilton.
Co-founder Elizabeth Durand Streisand came up with the idea when she realized that despite being surrounded by some of the world’s best theater, she was spending her free time watching Netflix. (Uh, same.) “People are too tired to weed through lists and reviews to figure out what to see,” she says. “And the longer you spend researching, the more pressure there is if you don’t love it.”
Her goal was to create a lower-pressure way to experience cultural events—with no time wasted researching and a reasonable price tag ($49 for weekdays, $59 for Friday through Sunday). At worst, you’re out a few hours and the cost of a dinner; at best, you get to see something you may not have seen otherwise for way less than the list price.
But OK, what if you already saw The Lion King when you visited New York with your parents in 2002? No problem—you can eliminate up to six shows from each “spin,” as well as specify whether you prefer a musical or a play. And if you book multiple times through Broadway Roulette, you’ll never get the same show twice, which means if you play enough, you’ll eventually be able to see everything. (One thing to note: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Angels in America aren’t included because a two-part show usually isn’t conducive to a single date, but the company regularly does giveaways to both shows on Instagram.)
You can book your mystery tickets as early as three months in advance or as late as the night before (though Streisand recommends booking earlier for the best seats). The morning of your chosen date, you’ll get an email revealing what show you got. It’s kind of like the thrill of opening a Secret Santa gift—or getting an Amazon package you forgot you ordered.
“There are so many people who work within a mile radius of theaters and never go,” says Streisand. “And that’s such a shame.” We, for one, intend to change that—if only so we can keep up with the theater maniacs in our circle.