On Wednesday, June 26, TKTS in Times Square, the same-day discount theatre outlet for Broadway and Off Broadway shows celebrates 40 years in Times Square. Beginning at 11am, there will be a special celebration in honor of TKTS’ 40th Anniversary behind the TKTS Booth on Broadway and 47th Street. A proclamation from the City of New York will be presented to Theatre Development Fund (TDF) and accepted on its behalf by “The Unofficial Mayor of Broadway,” 4-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein. (Fierstein most recently wrote the book for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, which won the most Tony Awards of any production this year, including Best Musical). After the presentation, the cast of Forbidden Broadway will perform a special tribute to TKTS written by the show’s creator, Gerard Alessandrini. Next up, Broadway star Julie Halston, also known as the “Unofficial Hostess of Broadway” will introduce karaoke singers performing Broadway songs from the past 40 years, as well as interview patrons on the TKTS line. To add to the festivities, 15 TKTS Patron Service Representatives will be dressed in costumes from the TDF Costume Collection (which houses of 80,000 professional theatrical costumes and accessories for rental to not-for-profits across the United States) in the style of shows that have opened on Broadway or have had major revivals in the past 40 years.
Operated by Theatre Development Fund (TDF), a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, TKTS opened for business on June 25, 1973, and quickly became a mecca for theatregoers from all over the world. Making theatre affordable with same-day discount tickets and providing an urban fellowship of theatre lovers on Duffy Square (47th Street and Broadway) has helped turn TKTS into one of New York City’s most photographed landmarks. The current TKTS Booth, housed under red glass steps, opened in 2008 and has garnered over a dozen international design awards. The glowing red staircase above TKTS became the first public space in Times Square, and it quickly became a popular respite for locals and visitors 365 days a year.
Open 365 days a year and located at Broadway and 47th Street in Manhattan, TKTS has distributed over 58.5 million tickets at discounts of up to 50% off to Broadway, Off Broadway, music and dance events in The Big Apple since it first opened for business on June 25, 1973. These tickets represent over $1.9 billion in revenue from these same-day sales to thousands of stage productions. The small per ticket service charge (currently $4.00 per ticket) is used to operate the booth and to help fund TDF’s myriad of education, access and service programs.
TKTS Times Square has offered some new services in the past several years to make the TKTS experience more user-friendly:
• TKTS Patron Service reps (wearing red jackets and t-shirts saying ‘got questions?’) are available at all times to answer questions and concerns from both novice and experienced TKTS ticket buyers;
• Window #12 is a “Play Only” window, meaning that if you want to purchase a ticket to a non-musical production you can walk directly to that window and avoid the longer lines;
• Window #1 is a “Full-Price” window. There you may purchase full-priced tickets to future performances or same–day full-priced tickets for shows not being sold at a discount for that day; and
• The free Official TKTS app allow patrons either at TKTS or contemplating coming down to purchase tickets see what shows are being offered for sale in real time. It may be downloaded for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone at www.tdf.org/tktsapp.
When Theatre Development Fund opened TKTS during the administration of Mayor John V. Lindsay, its supporters did not know that they were creating a phenomenon that would be replicated worldwide. After TKTS’s amazing success during its first years, TDF set up a special “National Services” division whose mission was to help other not-for-profit performing arts service agencies to develop their own same-day discount ticket booths. Using TKTS as a model, TDF was responsible for helping to develop booths in Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, London and Sydney.
TDF operates two satellite TKTS Booths: One in Downtown Brooklyn in 1 MetroTech Center, and another in South Street Seaport at the corner of Front and John Streets. The South Street Seaport Booth has been closed due to damage sustained from Hurricane Sandy, but is scheduled to reopen early this summer.
THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance, and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Since 1968, TDF’s programs have provided over 83 million people with access to performances at affordable prices and have returned over $2.2 billion to thousands of productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, outreach, access (including its newly formed Autism Theatre Initiative) and education programs — as well as its Costume Collection — have introduced thousands of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone, including students and people with disabilities. Recent TDF honors include a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for its Open Doors Arts Education Program, a 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award for its support of the off-Off Broadway community and a 2013 Lucille Lortel honor for “Outstanding Body of Work” in support of the Off Broadway community.
download pdf below with image of TKTS Times Square in 1973 and 2013