NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The iconic red and white TKTS booth in Times Square marks a milestone. The discount Broadway ticket seller celebrates its 40th anniversary on Tuesday.
As CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported, the landmark has played an integral role in making theater accessible and affordable to the masses.
The TKTS booth is a theatrical production all its own, keeping audiences on their feet 365 days a year.
“‘The Nance,’ and we got them 40 percent off. It’s a great place,” one couple told Tyler of the deal they got at the booth.
The non-profit Theatre Development Fund, a service organization for theatre arts, runs TKTS.
The TKTS half price ticket booth opened at 47th Street and Broadway in a trailer on June 25, 1973 when the Theater District needed an image boost.
“Times Square was full of not so good folks selling not so good things and really, the theater owners, the producers were worried because attendance on Broadway was down because people didn’t want to come here,” Victoria Bailey with the TDF told Tyler.
The simple idea has been a hit ever since, with some 58 million tickets sold at 20 to 50 percent off.
The new TKTS booth opened in 2008 with the giant red staircase on top making it even more of a destination.
Now with 12 windows, officials estimate customers should get through the line in less than 30 minutes.
On busy days, up to 1,500 tickets are sold every hour, Tyler reported.
“As we slowly get closer to showtime, we start running out of different shows, we’ll start getting different shows. It kind of happens all at once – we get them, we run out,” TKTS treasurer Bill Castellano told Tyler.
The TDF said no matter what the show, the goal is to give theater-goers an affordable fond memory.
“If you have a good time the first time you go, you’ll go back again. And that’s our job is to make people go back,” Bailey told Tyler.
The TDF adds a $4 fee to each show ticket. The money goes toward its education programs, including making theater available for the visually and hearing impaired as well as those on the autism spectrum.
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