Steps Right Up TKTS Celebrates 40 Years in Times Square

By Harry Haun
09 Jul 2013

All that is a long way from June 25, 1973, when the TKTS booth opened for business as a crime-busting ploy. Criminals were terrorizing theatre worse than critics back then, and Broadway was a chancy place to visit.

"The first booth was the start of what I call the resurrection of Times Square," said Bailey. It was, she thinks, the collective brainstorm of Mayor Lindsay's administration, The Shuberts (Gerald Schoenfeld and Philip J. Smith) and Anna Crouse, TDF vice president at the time.

Rarer and harder to track is the idea that TKTS can create playwrights. Consider Douglas Carter Beane, author of Cinderella and The Nance.

"If it weren't for TKTS," he said, "I wouldn't have two shows on Broadway right now."

When he was 16 he informed his folks he wanted to go to New York to do theatre. They had a counter-suggestion: "Go to New York for one weekend, see some shows and see if you like it." A worldly friend in high school told him how to proceed.

"Her name was Ellen Walter, and she said, 'Go to the little booth in Times Square that says TKTS. That stands for TicKeTS, and it's put there by TDF, which stands for Theatre Damn Near Free.' I came home and I said, 'I have to do this for the rest of my life,' so I will be in TDF's gratitude forever."