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Getting Tickets To The Nutcracker at David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center

Now in its 2nd year, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker is performed by the NYC Ballet at the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center


By Andrew J Stern
Published: December 1, 2013

The Nutcracker at at David H Koch Theater The Lincoln CenterThe Nutcracker: The Show
The New York City Ballet's (NYCB) The Nutcracker is a family favorite holiday show at the David H. Koch (pronounced coke)Theater at the Lincoln Center, and the 2013 production promises to be no exception.

With George Balanchine's choreography and Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky's original music, the show this year proves to be another record-setting demonstration of the art of ballet for the masses. The audience is made up of an eclectic mix of local New Yorkers dressed to the nines in suits and evening dress, parents and children with their strollers and iPhones, and even tourists in jeans and t-shirts, trying to figure out where they are supposed to go -- a true melting pot of New York City all celebrating their love of New York Ballet and particularly George Balanchine's take on the The Nutcracker.

The show's sales pitch is "Tschaikovsky's beloved melodies transport you to a magical world where mischievous mice besiege a battalion of toy soldiers, and an onstage blizzard leads to an enchanted Land of Sweets." But the show is so much more than this, yet so hard to put into meager words.

The Nutcracker opens November 29, 2013 and closes January 4, 2014.
The show performs nine shows a week and midweek shows are normally evening performances at 7PM or 8PM. Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday matinees are at 1PM or 2PM.

The Nutcracker: The Best Sight Lines
Lincoln Center Seating Chart - David H Koch TheaterThe David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center offers a wide assortment of seating choices, but very few provide close-up views of the stage due to the oversize orchestra pit and the wide and deep shape of the theatre.

The theater has 2,586 seats with five outer ring levels, which would be described in Broadway terms as balconies. This theatre can start to feel a little like the immense Radio City Music Hall by the time you get to the far reaches of the fifth ring, which must be 50 feet above the stage.

Most orchestra sight lines are very good, with the center orchestra being decidedly the best views of the dancers, but poor for the overall dance itself. The center sections of the five rings offer good views, but the views drop off rapidly the higher in the rings, or the further off-center you get. By the time you get to the very outside edges of the fifth ring, it tends to offer better views of the ceiling than of the stage and are therefore priced accordingly. The "bleacher creatures" in those outer reaches are usually there to listen to the wonderful orchestra and people spot, more than to actually see The Nutcracker performance itself.

Many dance fans prefer to sit high up in the David H. Koch Theater to get the full scope of the dance, but too far away and they could feel like they are just watching a distant television screen. This means that to get the best sight lines (assuming you won't be going to the show twice, the first in orchestra and the second in a ring - to get the full experience) you have to find the perfect balance, which is very tricky at this theatre given its size - but rear orchestra, first ring (center and sides) or 2nd ring center would be the best spots that balance the views, sound, and price.

The Posh Patrons:
Bucking the trend of the modern Broadway theatergoer, some New Yorkers often see the show twice, from different vantage points each time. It has also been known for a few lucky (and well-off) patrons to buy tickets to both sections on the same night and move between the seats during intermission to get the full effect of the show - the close ups of the dancers and then the experience of the dance ensemble itself, especially the later scenes.

The Nutcracker: Discount and Other Cheap Ticket Options
Tickets to The Nutcracker always sell so well that it never officially offers any discount ticket options. They price the show as if it were a single event. What's more confusing is that on the tickets check-out page there is an opportunity to enter a discount code - but according to the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center box office, this box should not appear on the web site as no discounts are ever available for anyone. We tested a number of promotional codes that have been used for the repertory in the past and found none of these codes worked.

Excerpt from The Nutcracker Ticket Sales Website
Screenshot from the erroneous message on the Lincoln Center website, that indicates that a promo code is available for the Nutcracker

Student Discount Program:
In terms of other discounts, the Lincoln Center does operate a student discount program for ballet and other shows at this theatre (and all it's other theatres too), but that program is not applicable to The Nutcracker - so it's safe to say that no ticket discounts are, or have ever been, available for The Nutcracker. The ticket price is what it says and there is no negotiation. Although the Lincoln Center has dallied with some offers on daily deal web sites, no offers for The Nutcracker are available through any of the common daily deal sites like Groupon, Living Social, Gilt, Amazon Local, Travelzoo and Goldstar.

Kids Prices And Bringing Children To The Nutcracker:
For the Nutcracker at David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center there are no discounts for children. The prices for 5 and older are the same for adults and children. This show isn't suitable for children under 5 years old, it is ballet after all. If you insist on bringing your under 5, they can go on your lap, but they may get bored very quickly as Doc McStuffins doesn't like tutu's.

Getting The Jump On Ticket Purchases:
By the time November rolls around the best seats, including the first few rows of the orchestra and each of the rings, are long gone - those tickets are usually snapped up by the senior patrons, guild members, inner circle and other priority members in the pre-sale that happens during the prior summer. Open ticket sales start in August and continue throughout the run of the show into January.

Ticket Fees: Service Fee and Facility Fee
David H Koch Theater Box OfficeThis year the service fee is $7.00 per ticket and the facility fee is $3.00.

The service fee is in line with standard Broadway show ticket fee pricing, but surprisingly expensive when you consider Broadway shows are forced through a for-profit third party like Ticketmaster or Telecharge, whereas The Nutcracker doesn't have to provide a profit to their internal ticketing service, just cover the basic costs of ticket management and printing. The $7.00 service fee can be avoided completely by purchasing the tickets directly at the David H. Koch Theater box office at the Lincoln Center at 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Avenue at 63rd Street.) The box office hours are Monday 10:00 am–7:30 pm, Tuesday–Saturday 10:00 am–8:30 pm, Sunday 11:30 am–7:30 pm.

In addition to the service fee, there is also a facility fee that cannot be avoided and is currently set at $3.00. It is not quite clear what the difference is between the service fee and the facility fee as both ticket fees go into the central Lincoln Center's fund. Perhaps, it just sounds better to break it into smaller multiple fees than saying that there is a $10 per-ticket fee, which seems expensive on its own.

Free Shipping On All Ticket Orders:
There is no cost for shipping the tickets to you. The tickets come via USPS, standard US Mail.
If Normal Delivery Method is an available option on the website, tickets ordered within 14 days of a performance can be delivered to shipping addresses in the United States via First Class Mail by the United States Postal Service. Tickets ordered fewer than 14 days before a performance will be held at the theater box office for pickup on the day of performance only. Orders with shipping addresses outside the United States, tickets are automatically held at the theater box office for pickup on the day of performance only.

Buying Tickets Directly At The Box Office:
Another advantage of buying tickets directly at the box office is that often they will have earlier access to tickets that do not appear online or over the phone - usually cancellation tickets that have been returned or tickets that have been held back to thwart ticket brokers.

The Nutcracker: Full Price Tickets:
Ticket pricing for this show follows a Broadway show model closely, with orchestra pricing ranging from $290 to some "ring five" tickets priced at a more economical $39. There are three ways to buy tickets:

  • ONLINE: Click Here or http://www.nycballet.com
  • PHONE: Call the Lincoln Center at 212-496-0600
  • IN PERSON: Visit the box office at the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center at 20 Lincoln Center Plaza - Columbus Avenue at 63rd Street.
    (Buying in person saves the service fees.)


 
 
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