The new Broadway season is starting to heat up, with many shows in previews that will be opening throughout the fall. That means that now is as good a time as any to catch a performance. Luckily, in the last few years, a few notable apps have been released that can be harnessed by thespians to create the best theater experience possible. Unfortunately, however, you’ll still have to silence your phone once the curtain is raised.
This app from The Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway industry, includes a list of all current and upcoming shows, their running times and prices for tickets. It features a map to help you locate where a particular show is playing, and a list of hotels and restaurants in the Times Square area. This is a relatively standard app that provides theatergoers the basic information that they’ll need for a night on the town. Cost: Free; available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
This is the mobile app version of the popular Broadway news site. Featuring Top Stories, Broadway News and Regional (non-Broadway) News, you’ll be a Broadway insider in no time. On the bottom tab, users can listen to BWW Radio, a free streaming service of Broadway music. The app offers video previews for many shows on Broadway, and lets you post on the often drama-laden BWW message board. (It is a Broadway site, after all.) There’s also a Special Offers section, a Groupon-esque source of discounted tickets for performances in New York. This app doesn’t have the simple, easy layout of the ILoveNYTheater app, but it provides fans with an array of choices. Cost: Free; available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android
3. Apps for Individual Shows
Looking to establish themselves, more shows of late have developed their own apps to promote their productions. The first show to do this was Fela!, a musical that ran on Broadway from 2009 to 2011. Most promotional apps offer a means to procure tickets, display the show’s schedule, and feature some enticing audio and video clips to reel you in. If you know exactly what you want to see, this is a great option, but if you’re still debating, look for one of the other apps. Cost: Usually Free
This simple app, created by Zumobi Inc., lists all of the shows on Broadway, along with a brief synopsis, and directs you to a ticket retailer. There’s also a news section, where users can read from some of the most prominent Broadway blogs. While the app offers little else, it can be a convenient source of information. Cost: Free, available for iPhone, iPod Touch
5. Broadway Music
Essentially iMDb for Broadway, with this database users can search for past Broadway shows, and find production details, featured songs, award nominations, and associated artwork. This app won’t be of much use for someone coming into New York looking to see a show, but for the Broadway freaks among us, it’s a nice tool. Cost: 99 cents, available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
While Stubhub is primarily known for its sporting and concert listings, they also have a decent section for Broadway shows. The listings won’t be as comprehensive as some of the other apps, but if you’re in need of a last minute ticket and are willing to pay any price, this is an option. Cost: Free; Available everywhere
This is a biggie. TDF, the Theater Development Fund, recently created a TKTS app, which is the first of its kind. For decades, New Yorkers have flocked to the TKTS booth in Times Square. TKTS offers up to a 50 percent discount on tickets for shows that aren’t sold out on the day of the performance. Because TKTS tellers sell the best seats available for available performances, TKTS is the easiest way for Broadway fans to nab a spectacular seat at a sensational price. The downside of TKTS has always been that the lines can be very long and there’s no way to predict which shows will be on sale on a given day. This groundbreaking app, however, addresses those drawbacks, giving users up-to-the-minute details on which shows are available, and at what price. Instead of trekking to Times Square only to see that the show you’ve been itching to see is sold out that night, with the app you can see what’s available ahead of time. TDF’s website doesn’t even offer this information. You’ll still have to wait on line, but at least you’ll be assured that it will be time well spent. I have a feeling that the next step will be for the app to allow users to purchase tickets directly from their smartphones, and use a scannable file to get into the theater. But that’s further down the road; I can only hope that it’s next. One potential issue here: make sure to get the TKTS app, and only that one. There are similar apps like At The Booth, which does the exact same thing that TKTS does, only slower. It also costs a dollar. I fell into this trap; I was so excited that this technology actually existed that I didn’t bother to find the actual TKTS app. Just get the TKTS app, and enjoy. Cost: Free; Available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Windows Phone 7
These apps are merely a launching pad. The next step, after getting these awesome apps, is to go see a Broadway show. If you’re not a fan of musicals, there are lots of amazing plays to see. And give musicals a shot. They’re awesome, and you probably have a bias against them because you hated your 70 year old music teacher in 3rd grade. Broadway is one of the biggest reasons to feel lucky that you’re a New Yorker. And if you’re from out of town, try to see a show or two while you’re here. And don’t just punk out by picking the show that you’ve seen as a movie already or the one with music from a group you like. Do a little bit of research, and find one of the incredible new shows that maybe you haven’t heard of. Finding one isn’t hard, at least not anymore. There’s an app for that.