Entertainment

With premium tickets for Broadway musicals being sold between USD 100-200 and more, getting hold of discounted tickets is always a welcome change. There are some very reliable online ticket resources that offer substantial discounts and an opportunity to make the Broadway experience more worthwhile for buyers. However, booking online is not the only way you can buy comparatively cheaper Broadway tickets. This Buzzle guide discusses how to get cheap Broadway tickets.

Where to Get Discounted Broadway Tickets

TKTS Booth
The TDF (Theater Development Fund) operates three TKTS centers in New York City, which are located in Times Square, South Street Seaport, and Downtown Brooklyn. Although the best, waiting in line at the TKTS booth in Times Square is also the lengthiest way to get cheap Broadway tickets. This is the one place where you're likely to find both travelers and New Yorkers waiting in line with equal anticipation. The downside of waiting at the TKTS boot is that, there is no guarantee that you will find the tickets to the show you wish to attend, which is why being more flexible about shows would work more in your favor. The center at Times Square Booth sells discounted tickets on day-of-performance basis. Avoid Window #1, as they sell tickets on full-price for all same-day shows that have no discounts to offer. For discounted tickets for matinée and same-day evening performances, head to the South Street Seaport Booth or the Downtown Brooklyn Booth.

Broadway Concierge & Ticket Center
The Broadway League Concierge and Ticket Center offers discounted tickets for same-day, premium, and advance shows. Those looking for a safe alternative to get tickets can call CTC's customer service to make inquiries, or visit their Broadway Concierge & Ticket center outlet in Times Square Visitor Center and Mini-Museum on 7th Avenue. Their staff is trained to provide general Broadway information to customers in six languages, and help them buy regular and premium Broadway and off-Broadway show tickets along with concierge service.

Audience Rewards
The Audience Reward program is America's first such program for arts and Broadway. Its main objective is to provide theatergoers with bonus points which can be availed to save money while buying tickets. This program also lets theatergoers earn free tickets, win Broadway merchandise, and upgrade seats.

Contact Theater Box Offices

Those looking to catch a specific show, should consider calling theater box offices a day in advance. The reason being, individual theater box offices sometimes keep rush tickets and lotteries, and have Standing Room Only (SRO) for students and theatergoers on a tight budget. Rush tickets are meant for hard-to-sell seats and often offer deep discounts, wherein the tickets are sold at as low as USD 20.

Authorized Broadway Ticket Vendor Websites

Playbill
Playbill asks for a free membership with the Playbill Club, wherein theatergoers can order online for tickets, call their ticketing agents, or present a printout of their Club page at the theater box office to avail discounts on their ticket. These discounts can vary from 10-50 % on several Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.

Broadway
In their 'Offers' category on their website, Broadway has options for 'Last Minute Ticket' wherein, customers can buy tickets for same-day or night shows. However, these deals are posted only in the morning at 10:00 a.m - 4:30 p.m everyday and may run out quickly. The next best alternative is to call their customer service providers for information on up-to-date deals.

BroadwayBox
BroadwayBox has been offering the best discounts for Broadway shows, plays, and musicals in New York City since 2001. This venture began in the aftermath of September 11 attacks, as a way to ease the hearts of the people of NYC. This website does not require users to sign in, and thus, makes the ticket buying experience extremely easy and hassle free.

TheaterMania
TheaterMania was founded in 1999, and has since become one of the go-to online resources for Broadway tickets. They provide special offers and ticketing services to their subscribers. This website also offers great discounts that range from 20-71%! It is indeed very rare to find such deep discounts on Broadway tickets anywhere else on the web.

Non Broadway-specific Ticket Websites

Although not specific to Broadway, here is a list of some websites that offer Broadway tickets at substantial discounts.

ticketmaster
StubHub
CheapTickets
Telecharge

With so many online resources to get the best deal on Broadway tickets, theatergoers such as you should find it easier to save on tickets. Make the best of their offers and book ahead in time, just to be on the safer side.

Summer is here, which means that people will be looking for lots of things to do to fill the long daylight hours and warm nights. It can be easy to get sucked into the trap of spending lots of money on summer entertainment, but you don't have to break the bank to have a lot of fun. There are plenty of free or inexpensive ways to keep you and your family entertained this summer.
Free Museums, Concerts, and Movies
Visiting museum
Check the local paper or the Internet for free stuff to do. If you live near a major city, chances are there are plenty of awesome activities the whole family can enjoy. Museums usually have free or reduced fare days that you can take advantage of. On these days, the museums are usually packed with people, but it can be a good excuse to get out of the house and learn. There are also a plethora of free concerts and movies in parks both inside and outside cities. Pack up your lawn chairs or a soft blanket, and get there early for the best seat in the house. You can even bring a picnic to these events, which can save money while being fun for the whole family or a romantic date night.
Visit the Library
Visit library
Libraries are the most underused resource for free entertainment during the summer. Libraries have so much more than books. They carry CDs and movies, too, and often have free or inexpensive summer programs - like story time - for the kids. Many libraries also have digital subscription programs where you can get e-books, music, or audio books for free and install them on your MP3 player or e-reader right from your home computer. All you need is a library card. Don't have one? Just bring a recent piece of mail to your local library and they'll sign you right up.
Backyard Games
Backyard game hobby
If there isn't a park near your house, try playing some games in the backyard. Playing catch is an all-time favorite for dads and sons, but you can also try some new games, as well. Bags tournaments are a great way for kids and adults to have fun and improve hand-eye coordination at backyard barbeques. You can also try your hand at bocce ball, croquet, or horseshoes if you have the equipment. Of course, you could always sit and dip your feet in the kiddie pool as you watch people playing, too.
Potluck Parties
Picnic in spring
Potluck parties are great ways to get friends and family together without breaking the bank. Asking everyone to bring a dish to pass will help you save money and ensure that everyone has something there that they like to eat. If you are having a lot of people, think about preparing a list of items you need and have people sign up to bring them so you don't get duplicates. Specifying what course people should provide can help, too.
Play at the Park
Playing football
Some good playtime at the local park can be great exercise for adults, children, and pets. Best of all, it's totally free to visit the park, and you might even make some new friends while you're there. If you can walk to the park, you get bonus points for fitness. Make sure you pack plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen to keep playtime safe and fun.

For those rainy summer days, DIY projects and crafts are also one of the options that can keep you busy while you are stuck inside. Your local craft store most likely has lots of inexpensive ideas for projects that the whole family will love.

For at least a century, terms like 'avant-garde' and 'cutting edge' have been associated with cultural products that lie outside the mainstream. That is, the cutting edge is usually something that most people aren't interested in. By the time it becomes mainstream―in other words, by the time the majority of people come to know about or appreciate it―the cultural product in question isn't cutting edge anymore. This is true in almost every medium, including painting and other visual arts, film, music, and literature. The things that have real, lasting cultural importance, are, at first, adopted and endorsed only by a select few.

Becoming Mainstream
Of course, the question that is raised by these considerations―what causes cultural products to rise from obscurity to cultural importance, and eventually, to enter the mainstream? There is an argument to be made that the tastes and whims of influential people and institutions have as much to do with this process as the content of art and media itself. For example, Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the most famous 'outsider artists' in history, rose from obscurity to massive prominence largely thanks to the influence of Andy Warhol and his associates.

The point is even more strikingly made in the example of music. Which musicians become famous has historically been almost entirely up to the record companies. Much mainstream pop and rock music is tailor-made by large record companies to have a high profile and high sales from the start, with little thought to artistic expression or cultural importance. More experimental musicians, however, have to get lucky with record companies in much the same way. Out of 10 culturally relevant musicians, one might get a decent deal with an independent record company, without which, their music would never be heard. Which one of the 10 gets this exposure is, perhaps, the luck of the draw. If the indie band goes on to become hugely influential to future musicians, the role that fortune played in this state of affairs ought not to be overlooked.

Who Decides What's Important?
To some extent, then, the avant-garde is determined by those who are already part of the mainstream. Record companies, production companies, established artists, and art galleries, all have an important say in what's cutting edge, so the distinction between the avant-garde and popular opinion is perhaps not so clear cut. In order for creative endeavors to have an effect on culture, someone with the power to impact culture has to get involved.

Underground Promotion
Historically, small-scale promotion of new, exciting media has been important. When a new band or independent filmmaker arises and appeals to trendsetters, these trendsetters spread the word in a number of ways, and this 'underground' promotion helps avant-garde artists along the path toward cultural relevance and mass appeal. In the past, if something gained enough of an audience to be noticed by larger institutions, it had as good as succeeded in 'breaking through'. Today, however, it is becoming less and less clear what a breakthrough act is, what the mainstream is, and whether the concept of mainstream versus avant-garde media retains any relevance at all.

Becoming Famous Online
The most obvious example of the cultural shift that has taken place over the past decades can be seen in the way the Internet has affected the spread of cultural information and media. In the past, a new pop group had to start locally, growing in importance via word of mouth and bootlegging, eventually earning the attention of a large record company and growing in popularity (and, often, decreasing in cultural importance) from there. Now, this process has been almost completely overtaken by online word of mouth. A new band, instead of distributing demo tapes to record companies and radio stations, can put its music on the Internet for all to hear. People anywhere in the world can listen to and respond to the band's music, vastly increasing the potential increase in popularity via word-of-mouth. Thus, culturally important, experimental musicians can become widely known before they have been noticed by the mainstream. It hardly needs to be said that this places far more importance on the content of the media being distributed online. The support of an established artist is no longer necessary for new artists to become successful. Instead of a cultural hegemony of the influential, we now have a situation where, thanks to technology, culture is becoming more democratic.

The Democratization of Culture
The democratization of culture is, perhaps, killing what was once known as the mainstream. Because institutionalized support is irrelevant, a musician, artist, or even (though to a lesser extent) a filmmaker can become successful and well-known without ever becoming famous in the traditional sense of the word. Instead of culturally important media products rising to the mainstream after slowly gaining acceptance in avant-garde communities, many media communities remain avant-garde. Not only does this eradicate the idea of a strong distinction between cultural relevance and mainstream prominence, it calls into question the future of the mainstream. With a more democratic approach toward culture, the cultural hegemony that established the mainstream in the first place may no longer be necessary.

The entertainment industry is constantly under scrutiny―whether it is the sex and violence in movies, the language in music, or the focus of video games. As entertainment becomes more progressive, those who are vocal against that progression try to speak up louder to drown out the noise. For them, it is a seemingly winless battle, though as there are few if any instances in which moral disagreement has had a significant impact on the way the industry operates.

Music
Music has long since settled into a groove in which essentially anything is okay. The result is, a music industry that does not provide nearly as much objectionable and public material as it once did. There was one point in the early 1990s, when it seemed like every day had another music artist's name in the papers alongside that of an angry senator. While albums are still marked with the Parental Advisory stickers that were introduced in those early days of moral objection, the bounds are essentially gone.

Access to music is as free and prevalent as ever, with services like iTunes and MySpace making it nearly impossible to filter out the unwanted noise anymore, and so, for the most part, the watchdog groups have stopped. It's an interesting result, and has only occurred in the music industry.

Movies
Film has always been subject to scrutiny. After all, it features graphic images of violence and sexuality that can be offensive for a number of demographics, from children to adults and everyone in between. And while violence and sex have essentially wormed their way into mainstream acceptance, there are still plenty of topics that can bring about an uproar in certain communities.

Consider the recent uprisings in religious groups over what they feel is morally objectionable material such, the most recent example of which is The Golden Compass. The film is based on a series of books that depicts a fractured sector of society acting as a metaphor for the author's vision of the Church. This sect kidnaps and experiments on children, forcing them to stand up and fight back. The result is a series of books that teaches an alternate view of religion, one in which it is not as cut and dry as organized dogma would have you believe. It is a strictly agnostic approach and one that the Church finds offensive.

Similar to their response to The DaVinci Code in 2006, the Catholic League―with its 350,000 members―has decided to boycott the film in the hopes of convincing other Christians to ignore it. The result is a wash of publicity and controversy over a film which is not supposed to be that good.

It is interesting that the current state of moral ethics provides ample space for protest against films that breach religious and racial boundaries (The Passion of the Christ is a good example), but the long time proliferation of sex and violence that has recently seeped into even the most innocent of children's films and television programs continues.

Video Games
By far the biggest source of discussion and controversy in recent years in regards to moral obligations is the video game industry. Today, the ESRB rates and labels video games between E (for everyone) and AO (adult only). The rating system is effective in telling parents what their children will be facing in a video game. However, the ESRB is a self-regulatory board run and operated by the gaming companies, which has caused many senators and ethics pounding lawyers to grow even more upset at games like Grand Theft Auto, or the most recent maelstrom in Manhunt 2.

Most recently, senators have called for an overhaul of this system for a particular instance in which Manhunt 2, which originally received an AO rating for its violent portrayal of murder, was rerated with an M rating for Mature. No game console will currently support an AO game, meaning that for Manhunt 2 to be released, it needed to be edited and rerated. However, there has now been additional controversy over the leniency with which the ESRB rerated the game.

For the Nintendo Wii edition in particular, which allows players to act out the specific violent techniques with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, senators are concerned as psychologists have come forward citing the damage this can do to a child's mind.

While video games have continued pushing the same boundaries of sex and violence as films, they have a slightly different hurdle to overcome. Because they are traditionally considered for children, and because acts are specifically handled by manipulating an on-screen character, they pose a more substantial threat for some individuals to the child's mind. Regardless of how much they might grow or change, they will always be scrutinized for what they allow you to do.

The moral dilemma that strikes any entertainment medium will continue to strike as long as popular media is available to the masses. While music and film have become more accepted over time, the video game and eventually Internet mediums will probably continue to spark controversy, both in the media and in government.

I have fond memories of so many great films from years past, movies that I saw on Sunday mornings, aired by cable stations unwilling to pay more than the most nominal fee for their air time. I watched those movies and discovered Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and a slew of other greats. I also watched those and discovered Crocodile Dundee, Beverly Hills Cop, and a load of '80s fun. But, one morning in particular, on a rarely watched artsy channel, I found a film by one of the great Japanese directors of all time, and was enthralled.

That particular Sunday morning was interesting for a few reasons. First off, my brother was staying over at a friend's house, meaning I had the full reign of the television. Second, it was raining very hard, so my parents couldn't send me outside to 'enjoy' the sun by myself. Third, I was a little under the weather, so my normally short attention span stayed glued to the television, partially under the influence of cough syrup, and partially in pure lethargy.

All of these things were necessary as the film in question was Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, a three-hour opus. At the tender age of 11, it had not yet been restored to its original luster of 202 minutes, cut down by the unfortunate few who find foreign films too convoluted for American audiences. Regardless, I was enamored by this epic tale of right triumphing over wrong, and ever since then I've been in love with Akira Kurosawa's work, constantly pointing out to my friends all the hundreds of different influences he's had over Western cinema. It's impressive really, the volume of work he produced and the volume of work that came to exist in America as a direct response to that work.

Many people are quick to forget just how much one man can influence the course of an entire art form. When that one man is a Japanese director who passed away more a decade ago, it's almost impossible to educate the many who have never heard his name. But, film directors are not nearly so cloistered to world cinema as movie goers are. They watch everything they can get their hands on, and for that reason, an auteur like Kurosawa was high on many great directors' lists, including Sergio Leon, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and dozens more.

So who was this man, Akira Kurosawa, who had a massive impact on the movies we grew up loving. He was a descendent of a former Samurai family, and as a child, had the kind of imaginative interest in stories and the new medium that was film, as any future director should. He attended film schools, worked with the first directors in Japanese film, and in the 1940s began directing his own films.

What made Kurosawa's work so much different was that he had a mass appeal, a flare for seeking out the root of storytelling, that seed of a good yarn, and exploiting it with all the compassionate visual stimulation, that only Japanese films could offer. He invented numerous popular story telling techniques still used today in films like Rashomon (with multiple view points on the same story) and Seven Samurai (the powerful strangers hired to save a village). When he wasn't busy creating archetypes for what Western films would become, he was taking Western archetypes and applying Japanese style to them. He wrote and directed two Samurai Shakespeare adaptations, with Throne of Blood adapted from Macbeth and Ran adapted from King Lear.

He adapted Dostoevsky in Hakuchi (The Idiot) and crafted stylish noir thrillers in Stray Dog and Drunken Angel. As original and inventive as he could be, Kurosawa was in love with the Western forms that informed cinema as well. For me, this is what true cinema is all about. Instead of constantly whipping out mindless sequel after mindless sequel, based on nothing more than the whimsy of a previous film, directors were seeking out new ideas from across the globe and integrating them into their own culture, exploiting universal themes in such ways that their viewers could understand.

When Sergio Leone crafted his Man with No Name trilogy, it was a rewritten script from Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Sanjuro. When George Lucas began piecing together his characters in Star Wars, he used many sources but none so openly as Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress. You've likely seen some form or another of Rashomon hundreds of times throughout your lifetime, retold constantly with different characters. Unlike what many of today's directors would deride as open infringement of ideas, this is how art actually works, assimilating and building. The cross-pollination of culture and story is what made Shakespeare's work so epic, and in the 20th century made films so universally accepted.

Today's film-going audience is not only woefully ignorant of the films of the past, but of the effects of those films and of ingesting the work of other cultures. While attending films at Seattle's International Film Festival, I can't help but think what would have happened to cinema if each nation had developed their own cinema solely independent of the others, how boring and repetitive it might have become.

In a world where we find ourselves evermore overwhelmed by-and drawn to-bright images and flashing screens, it is worth asking a few questions about that most important of consumer goods: entertainment. What makes entertainment entertaining? Why do we need it, or do we? What is entertainment, anyway?

These are a few of the questions I set out to answer in a class I taught a year or so ago: Entertainment in America. And while we couldn't quite come up with satisfactory answers, even after a semester of reading and discussion, I'd like to try to set down a few of the thoughts that came out of that course here. But I don't want to shove the partial answers I've come to down your throat-that's no fun for anybody. Rather, what I'll do in the following is offer a list of questions that you might ask yourself, along with a few resources that might be worth looking at as you search for your own answers to these increasingly crucial questions. I'll also note, from time to time, the conclusions I have tentatively reached regarding these questions.

Are you ready? Here goes...

What is entertainment? (Too obvious, but we'll come back to it. If you keep this question in mind as you go down the list, you may find a definition beginning to come together. Try it out.) Even if you know it when you see it, does it bother you if you can't come up with a good definition of what it actually is?

Is there such a thing as "only entertainment"?
Only Entertainment-Bad Religion
That's Entertainment-The Jam
That's Entertainment-Judy Garland
When you read the lyrics of The Jam's and Bad Religion's songs, and read about the history of the Judy Garland highlights film, what is your sense of the kind of material that makes for entertainment?

Who needs entertainment? What for? When you are entertained, what are you feeling? Read a Dilbert or Doonesbury comic strip, and try to record what happened inside of you while you were looking at the comic. Did you feel happier? A sense of release? The resolving of tension? Was that entertainment? Would you say that reading the comic strip was the same kind of experience as watching a television show? How? How not?

Are some kinds of entertainment better for you than others? Which kinds? Is it better to play internet poker or to watch a video? Try doing each for a little while and record your feelings. Was one more entertaining than the other? How? Why? Did one make you more aggressive? Less likely to do something productive in the world around you? Did either change the way you felt about yourself? How?

One of the things I was struck by while teaching this course was the way entertainment can work as a substitute for action. If I can identify with a character on TV-on a soap opera, for instance-then I get to feel all the feelings that character feels, without having to do the actions that result in those feelings. I get to feel jealous without having a cheating spouse, excited by the intrigue of adultery without being an adulterer, and intimate without ever actually talking to a living human being. In short, I get to feel. Some researchers believe that feelings are the way we human beings experience our world most fully, but is there a price to pay when we feel our emotions in a way that's disconnected from the physical world around us?

That is, if we get to feel feelings without taking risks, do we start to lose our ability to risk emotion in the "real world"? I don't have a definite answer to that for you, but I do have one for me. I've come to the conclusion that entertainment is-while maybe necessary for emotional and psychological health-definitely a dangerous substance. Like fire. So, for my part, I'll still watch a film now and then. But I'll also think afterwards about how watching that film, getting that emotional satisfaction, affects my ability to act in the real world. You might consider doing the same; it actually turns out to be pretty entertaining.