TKTS Experiments With New Lincoln Center Venue

Budget theatergoers queued up for bargains on the first day of a TKTS experiment at Lincoln Center. | JACKSON CHEN
Budget theatergoers queued up for bargains on the first day of a TKTS experiment at Lincoln Center. | JACKSON CHEN

BY JACKSON CHEN |It was opening day for the TKTS booth at Lincoln Center and — being a theater audience, after all —the crowd on hand was at the ready with a standing ovation.

On August 2, budget theatergoers formed a long snaking line that hovered at around 60 people at the Zucker Box Office inside the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center at 61 West 62nd Street. They were waiting to choose from discounted Broadway tickets available from TKTS’ temporary new location. As the clock hit noon, the three ticket booths opened to enthusiastic cheers.

TKTS, which is operated by the nonprofit Theatre Development Fund, is adding to its three existing locations in Times Square, at the South Street Seaport, and in Downtown Brooklyn at MetroTech. Operating since 1973, the service offers same-day and next-day matinees or evening tickets to shows like “Something Rotten!,” “Fun Home,” “Matilda,” and “Jersey Boys” at 40 or 50 percent discounts.

According to the TDF, Lincoln Center approached the group with a mutually beneficial proposal for the new location.
“It can bring more people into the atrium to see what events Lincoln Center offers,” Michael Naumann, TDF’s managing director, said, “and we thought it was a way for us to have a place to accommodate more New Yorkers.”
Naumann said the location on the Upper West Side would serve as a contrast to the current Times Square location, which tends to attract out-of-town tourists.

“Being on the Upper West Side, we’re hoping we’ll be able to attract New Yorkers to take advantage of theater in New York City,” Naumann said. “If our assumptions are correct, we’ll be bringing in more New Yorkers that wouldn’t be utilizing our services otherwise.”

Despite some technical difficulties on opening day, the locals were extremely pleased with the new spot, even though for now, at least, it’s billed as only temporary. Some ticket seekers even arrived as early as 11:15 a.m., according to Naumann.
“I was visiting the whole area today, and my husband and I wanted to see a play,” said Amy Mase, a Kips Bay resident. “I said let me try this because it’s local.”

The line moved a bit slow for Mase’s liking, but she was still able to purchase same-day tickets for “Cagney.” And overall, she said, the location was attractive because it is “off the beaten path” and in an indoor air-conditioned facility.

Joyce Davis, a Floridian visiting and staying on the Upper East Side, characterized the Times Square TKTS location as “too many people and too hot.”

“I expected more people and I’m glad there’s not,” Davis said of the new location in comparison to the Midtown alternative. “The line over at Times Square is tremendous. But this is nice. I hope they keep it a secret.”

Most ticket buyers agreed that the Lincoln Center location is a welcome addition they hope becomes permanent.

“I work in the area, so it’s very convenient,” Larry Attia, who bought tickets for “Fun Home,” said. “I know it’s a three-month trial so I thought I’d use it and encourage it because I’d love it to be permanent.”

After the three-month initial run, during which the TKTS at Lincoln Center will be open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m., TDF and Lincoln Center will evaluate whether to make the location or one nearby permanent.