When Washington, D.C. resident Adam Natale relocated to New York a few years ago, he made sure to take care of the usual housing, finances and moving concerns.
Just as important if not more was signing up for a TDF membership-which he did two months before his Gotham move. Now that's thinking ahead.
"There's no reason not to join," says Natale, a freelance theatre director and producer who works for the nonprofit arts service organization Fractured Atlas. "If you qualify and you plan on seeing more than one Broadway show a year, it's worth it. I've convinced a lot of my friends to join."
Still, that famous discount line, also run by TDF, remains an integral part of Natale's first New York theatregoing memories.
"When my family did our first New York vacation-I'm from Philadelphia originally-we did the TKTS line because my mother had heard about it," Natale recalls warmly. "We got in line hours before we needed to, and we saw the revival of Guys and Dolls, which I didn't like, actually, and Kiss of the Spider Woman, which I loved."
Soon his family's trips to New York, and to the TKTS line, became "almost monthly. We had a system: My mother would get in line, and I would run to the board and find out what was available. My father would go get coffee so he didn't have to stand in line."
When he moved to town in late 2005, Natale says he "used TDF nonstop. I think the first thing I saw was the Fiddler on the Roof revival with Harvey Fierstein. It's always been easy to use. Sometimes I've had spectacular seats, sometimes not so much, but how can you complain when your seats are less than $40? I'm young and I work in the nonprofit world, so my salary isn't exorbitant. Without TDF I'd be seeing so many fewer shows."
Does this TDF veteran have any bargain-hunting tips?
"I don't want to give away my secrets!" Natale jokes. "The secret is to constantly check, and not just for shows you think you want to see. There are special events on the TDF list that you wouldn't have access to otherwise, and so many shows beyond Broadway and Off-Broadway on there."
That's certainly true: TDF lists include special events, dance, music and comedy. For those members who need some Broadway in their theatregoing diet, Natale offers, "The major tip is to check when shows are in their preview stage. Spring Awakening was there in previews. I heard that Jersey Boys was up, though I never actually saw it there. The shows that eventually become the big hits seem always to have been on TDF at some point."
Broadway's recent emphasis on first-rate non-musical comedies and dramas has given TDF members a uniquely rich smorgasbord of offerings. Indeed, Natale says, when he looks back at 2007, he thinks he saw more plays than musicals-a rarity for him.
"Let's see-with TDF tickets I saw August: Osage County, A Bronx Tale, The Farnsworth Invention, Mauritius, Deuce. And I'll be seeing Is He Dead?" Natale, speaking over the phone, confesses, "I have TDF on my computer right now, in fact."
His parents still come to town regularly to see shows, and Natale is their ticket concierge. Thanks to his TDF membership, he says, "We only buy full-price tickets maybe once or twice a year."