Top 10 Ways to Get “Hamilton” Tickets for Less Than an Arm and a Leg

Hamilton logoLin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton began in January 2015 as a small Off-Broadway show at the Public Theater, and has now morphed into a Broadway phenomenon. Driving hoards of both Broadway and non-Broadway fans to the Richard Rodgers Theatre on the Great White Way, Hamilton has become a Broadway behemoth, raising over $60 million in revenue in less than one year and now has astronomical secondary ticket prices to match. Often described as the “Cronut” of Broadway shows (this relates to the show being massively over-priced and somewhat over-hyped), Hamilton continues to grow its fan base of loyal Hamilfans, who seem that they cannot get enough of this show – until the next big thing rolls into town. Broadway stalwart, Lin-Manuel Miranda, wrote the show in collaboration with director Thomas Kail. With the choreography by Andy Blankenbeuhler and a diverse Broadway cast, the show’s hip-hop rendition of Alexander Hamilton’s obscurity-to-founding father story has gotten the attention of pretty much everyone, including the U.S. President and many other Broadway notables and government dignitaries. President Obama has seen the full show once, had a private showing on Broadway to raise money for The Democratic National Committee (where he reportedly just caught the tail end of the show due to official business getting in the way) and had two cut-down private performances at The White House, in Washington DC. The show has now earned so much money, in such a short time, that the producers are giving a cut of the profits to original cast members, which is a potential, and unexpected, windfall for everyone concerned. Hamilton has become a true Broadway success story in such a short window of time, faster than any other show before, setting a new standard in Broadway show recoupment (as traditionally only 20 percent of Broadway shows recoup their investment)

Miranda Expected To Leave The Show

A punishing performance schedule will often take its toll on a show’s lead actors and, not surprisingly, Lin-Manuel Miranda is expected to leave the show soon after the Tony Awards in June 2016. It is possible Miranda will perform at the permanent show that opens in Chicago on September 27, 2016, and/or on the national tour of the show in 2017, which will travel to multiple destinations across the U.S. including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Other potential stops on the East Coast include Boston and Philadelphia. With Miranda’s departure from the lead role, this may reduce the audience fervor in the permanent show on Broadway, but will still drive sales of the touring show in which he may appear. Secondary-market ticket prices are expected to peak for Miranda’s last performances on Broadway. His lead role in the show will be tough to fill, but perfect shoo-ins for his replacement could include Kanye West, Drake, Childish Gambino, Fetty Wap, Common and will.i.am – although none have yet confirmed their interest, they all possess the hip-hop and singing/acting skills needed to keep the momentum of the sit-down Broadway show alive. Unlike The Book of Mormon, critics agree that the lead actor in Hamilton (Miranda) is bigger than the show itself, something the producers will want to shake off to be able to market the brand to multiple locations at the same time, because Miranda cannot be omnipresent at all the Hamilton productions. Any lesser name to fill Miranda’s Broadway role could result in a secondary ticket market price crash, ultimately affecting the overall brand and the value and success of the semi-permanent show in Chicago and the touring shows.

 Hamilton cast sceneSecondary Market Ticket Prices Poised To Skyrocket

One of the downsides of a successful Broadway show like Hamilton is that the ticket market is often manipulated by secondary-market ticket brokers, often sending ticket prices into the stratosphere and out-of-reach of Broadway show fans. The ticket brokers’ pricing for this show have skyrocketed in recent months, with the actual production not receiving any financial benefit from the financial madness. Things are actually getting worse, with a number of factors that are also adding to the short-term hype of the show, including:

  • The expected increase of the face value of premium tickets to be raised from $549 to $995
  • Multiple presidential engagements that have promoted the show through a variety of media channels
  • Hamilton is a shoo-in for the 2016 TONY Awards, deservedly expected to sweep all categories at the show on June 12, 2016 on CBS
  • The recent Pulitzer Prize for Drama (a milestone that only a handful of Broadway musicals have earned)
  • Winning the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album
  • Miranda’s cover of TIME magazine and being named one of the top 100 most influential people
  • The Amazon best-seller companion book
  • The expected departure of Lin-Manuel Miranda from the show
  • The change-of-heart by the Obama administration not to replace Alexander Hamilton on the face of the $10 bill, reportedly due to Miranda’s influence.

Given these various unique situations, a Hamilton ticket is expected to become even hotter over the next three months. The show is poised to become the most expensive Broadway show ticket ever, with secondary market tickets currently being offered for over $3000. It is anticipated that $5000 will be the new price tag for this show, that only the well-heeled can afford. After Miranda departs the show, the secondary ticket market may experience a crash in prices. Hamilton’s advance ticket sales have already hit $80 million as every day ticket brokers are buying up every available ticket for nine months in advance, regardless of whether Miranda is in the show or not.

Tony Awards 2016 Viewership At Risk

The great success of Hamilton has the 2016 Tony Award TV show producers a bit worried, as TV viewership may be down due to the monotony of giving out the awards to the same show over and over again. Still, Miranda should be very pleased with the fact he, and his amazing show, have become household names across the U.S., and it’s not even over yet. After the U.S. tour, the Hamilton brand is expected to go international, much like the Chicago and The Lion King brands that have gone before.

How To Get A Discount Ticket To Hamilton

Here’s what everyone wants to know: how do you get a ticket to a Broadway show that is so out-of-control in popularity and pricing that it seems out of reach for eternity? Face value tickets are supposed to start at $139 and premium seats at $549, but they are never available. Some secondary-market tickets are now being sold by ticket brokers for $2,500 per ticket, but even that number is expected to rise in coming months. With the prices skyrocketing, getting a ticket at just face value can be considered a discount.

Basically, there are three kinds of tickets for Hamilton: Face value tickets (Sold-out solidly for the next nine months), secondary-market tickets (Where ticket brokers are asking for huge sums of money) and lottery tickets (at just $10 a ticket). But there other options:


10 – The Online Ticket Lottery for $10
This is the most popular method of getting a discount ticket to Hamilton, but it is also the least successful. With over 25,000 people applying for the online ticket lottery every day, there are only 21 tickets given out for just $10, so the odds of winning this lottery are 1250:1 – not very strong odds. The ticket lottery is our least favorite option, as you will always lose an oversubscribed lottery. The odds were much better when the lottery was done on the street, before neighbors and the NYPD forced it to go online. By going online, it opened the ticket lottery up to thousands of working stiffs, who have nothing better to do at work than to enter the lottery as many times as they can.


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9 – The In-Person Ticket Lottery for $10
The in-person lottery is only done on Wednesday matinees when most people are at work or school. This was done to avoid a large crowd in front of the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The entry number is not as large as the online ticket lottery, usually about 500 people, but the odds of winning are still not stellar. If you don’t win, the best part of the in-person lottery is the short performances Miranda puts on outside the theatre, which are called Ham4Ham, something you really cannot appreciate online.


8 – See the Touring or the Chicago Show Instead
Taking a leaf out of The Book of Mormon Guide to Taking Your Hit Broadway Show on The Road While It Is Still Running on Broadway, Hamilton is setting up another permanent (albeit just for 2 years) show in Chicago and will also run a touring production of the show. The tickets for Hamilton’s permanent show in Chicago and the national tour are expected to be lower in price, when compared to the permanent Broadway show in New York City. It is expected that the tickets will still be very popular, but not as crazy as the New York ticket market. They are, however, expected to sell out, but ticket brokers will not be able to manipulate the out-of-control ticket pricing the way they have been able to leverage in the NYC market as there will be less demand outside NYC. For these shows, we recommend to be on the lookout for tickets within minutes of their release, to snag a ticket before they are all gone. If you miss this ticket-buying window, then secondary-market tickets are expected to be available at twice the price of face value.


7 – Buying a Face-Value Ticket 9 Months in Advance From The Box Office
The box office at the Richard Rodgers Theatre often has face-value tickets to the show for 9 months in advance; these are tickets that are never seen on the Ticketmaster website and can only be bought from the box office in person. Ticketmaster just tends to have secondary-market tickets from its ticket brokerage, TicketsNow, which runs at 3-4 times the face value of tickets. If the box office does not have any face-value tickets available, they will let you know what the next day is when they will have them. There will be a line of people waiting for those tickets to be sold at that allotted time. Expect to get to the box office at least five hours ahead of the announced time. Remember, these are tickets for nine months in the future, and you will be there with all the ticket brokers and their runners buying up whatever ticket inventory they possibly can.


6 – Getting a House Seat In The Orchestra For $167
Many people who are connected with the Broadway industry are allowed to purchase house seats for Hamilton directly from the producer for the face value price. House tickets can vary in price between $167 and $275, they are often the best seats in the house, and they are available right up until the day of the performance. You must be professionally associated with the Broadway industry and can only garner these tickets directly from the producer of the show, not the box office.


5 – Cancellation Tickets Line – Unsold House, Regular and Premium Seats
At the theatre there is a cancellation ticket line. Although they are called “cancellation tickets,” the reality is that most of the tickets sold on this line are unsold “house seats” that were not given or sold to members of the press or Broadway theatre industry professionals. These tickets are sold to people who wait on the line and are sold for $177. The same is true of any unsold regular tickets, but they are much rarer, given that people are far less likely to cancel their regular tickets for this show given its popularity. Unsold premium tickets are also offered to people on line during the day for $477, but are mostly declined and they usually end up in the hands of a ticket broker who can sell it on for more to hotel concierges. Each day, about 10-16 premium tickets (these are the best seats in the theatre) are sold this way. Somewhere between 2 hours to 5 minutes prior to the performance, people who wait on the cancellation line are offered the unsold house and unsold regular tickets. Some people often wait on the line for as long as 28 hours to be at the front, but at other times the line can be as short as 4 hours. Professional services exist that will wait on this line for you, and they charge $20 per hour. Some craigslist people, usually theatre students, will do it for less.


4 – Cancellation Tickets Line – Unclaimed Lottery and Standing Room Only (SRO) Tickets
Some unclaimed lottery tickets turn up at the cancellation ticket line for $167. This is when people win the online lottery, pay $10 for each ticket and do not turn up to collect them. 
People who wait on the “cancellation tickets” line and were unsuccessful are often offered Standing Room Only tickets for $40. Each day, there are up to 21 of these tickets up for grabs (sometimes less if industry buys these tickets). The sales of SRO tickets allow the show to operate at 101.55% of its capacity. This is a dilemma for people who have already waited over 24 hours to just buy the SRO tickets. Instead, they will often choose to stay on the line – extending their stay to 48 hours (or less if the following day has a matinee) – in order to get better seats for the following day. People who have been on the line for less time will usually go for these SRO tickets, as long as they have the physical ability to stand for the whole show, sometimes getting an unclaimed seat if an usher puts them there.


3  – Enter the TDF Raffle for Hamilton Tickets
The Theatre Development Fund (TDF) offers a raffle for two weekday tickets to Hamilton. They ask for a $5 donation to enter, but they also provide a more complicated method that allows a person to enter for free, so that they do not break the New York Lottery Laws. This ticket raffle can be found at raffle.tdf.org.


2  – Second-Acting
Amazingly, a small percentage of Broadway patrons actually do not enjoy Hamilton, and decide to leave at intermission. Made famous by NBC’s “The Office,” Second -Acting is the process of using an exiting patron’s ticket, and just seeing the second act of the show. Hamilton tickets are so expensive that the original people can often be seen selling their ticket outside the theatre at the intermission for around $50. The theatre management does not like this practice, but it is within a grey area of rights for the original ticket buyer to do this. The old practice of sneaking back in with the smokers at intermission is long gone, especially for a show that is 100% sold out every night, because where would you even sit?


1  – Be Brave and Refuse To See Hamilton Until The Show Is Less Popular
Some Broadway patrons are rejecting the sheep mentality of flocking to the latest Broadway hit when the hype forces the ticket prices to get out-of-control. Ticket brokers leverage the popularity of the show, and manipulate the ticket market to make huge profits. Much like The Dutch Tulip Bubble of 1637, ticket brokers leverage the scarcity of tickets and over-hype the show to take it into unchartered pricing territory where they can make a killing. The producers of this show could stop the ticket brokers manipulation in a “New York second,” by demanding names on tickets and government ID at the door, but they often ride the wave of profits for themselves, through the expectation of “a rising tide floats all boats.” Some of the actions of many ticket brokers would be illegal in the stock market, but they continue to mar the Broadway industry. Dare we say The Book of Mormon anyone? Consumers get fleeced and Broadway does little to curb it.


 

Discount Tickets To Hamilton on Broadway:

It could be years before Broadway’s Hamilton becomes less popular and prices return to their fair market-value. It could also take a while before the ticket brokers have moved onto hyping the next big thing on Broadway, but in the meantime, we hope that some of these strategies may have helped you in the process of getting your Hamilton tickets for less than an arm and a leg.

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Christina Morningside is a native New Yorker who grew up loving theater and writing for various periodicals on the subject including Playbill and BroadwayWorld. Christina is an alumna from Columbia University in New York City and serves on several historic preservation committees in Manhattan. When Christina is not at a Broadway show, she can be found outdoors in Vermont enjoying snowshoeing or skiing in the winter and hiking mountains with her husband and their yellow lab in the summer.
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