IT’S (NEARLY) TIME TO TAKE A SHOT

Rise up. Here’s what you need to know to snag Hamil­ton tick­ets.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY ANDREW MEACHAM

Im­me­di­ately af­ter an­nounc­ing it had booked Hamil­ton, the David A. Straz Jr. Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts had to re­vise its au­to­mated phone greet­ing. Fans call­ing about Hamil­ton could press 1.

Ev­ery­one wanted to know when tick­ets were go­ing on sale. That date has now ar­rived.

Tick­ets for Lin-Manuel Mi­randa’s ground­break­ing take on the Found­ing Fa­thers go on sale at 9 a.m. Fri­day. Seats range from $86 to $489, with a limit of four tick­ets per house­hold.

The show’s hip-hop style, in­ven­tive set, color-blind cast­ing and fu­ri­ous pace helped it snag 11 Tony awards in 2016. It has his­tory, be­trayal and a smol­der­ing ri­valry be­tween flawed hero Alexan­der Hamil­ton and his neme­sis Aaron Burr. Many have likened Hamil­ton to pre­vi­ous mu­si­cals that changed the genre, in­clud­ing Ok­la­homa, South Pa­cific, West Side Story and Rent.

The frenzy over tick­ets has spawned a shad­owy re­sale mar­ket. It even dinged the gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign of Andrew Gil­lum, who re­ceived a ticket from an un­der­cover FBI agent.

For months, the Straz told fans the only way they could guar­an­tee get­ting a seat was to buy sea­son tick­ets. Then the sea­son pack­ages sold out.

But there are still plenty of seats left over. For now.

The ba­sics haven’t changed. You can pur­chase tick­ets on­line, in per­son or over the phone. But be­cause of the in­ten­sity or pop­u­lar­ity, the It Fac­tor or what­ever, the Straz has added some lay­ers. Here is a quick guide.

If you buy in per­son

This is not the kind of thing where peo­ple will be pitch­ing tents. The venue will not al­low cus­tomers on the prop­erty un­til 5 a.m. Fri­day. A lot­tery sys­tem gives num­bered wrist­bands to those ar­riv­ing be­tween 5:30 and 7 a.m. When ticket win­dows open at 9 a.m., Straz staffers will be­gin call­ing those num­bers ran­domly.

It’s not first come, first served. Early birds won’t nec­es­sar­ily get re­warded.

“There is lit­er­ally no ad­van­tage to ar­riv­ing early,” Straz spokesman Paul Bi­lyeu said. “You could ar­rive at 6:59 and have the same chance as some­one who got there at 5:30.”

On the other hand, cus­tomers can wan­der, hit the cof­fee shop or sit down, which beats stand­ing in line for hours. That’s the trade-off. The game changes a lit­tle af­ter 7 a.m.

Those ar­riv­ing af­ter that time will be placed in a queue and given dif­fer­ent se­quen­tially-num­bered wrist­bands, and will not be able to buy tick­ets un­til ev­ery­one who ar­rived be­fore 7 a.m. has been served — if there are any left, Straz of­fi­cials said.

Or­der­ing on­line

Start­ing at 9 a.m., a com­puter ran­domly as­signs op­por­tu­ni­ties to buy tick­ets within a 10-minute win­dow. Buy­ers who log on af­ter 9 a.m. will be placed in line and served in or­der, sim­i­lar to the in­per­son sys­tem. The site al­lows you to sign up for email alerts that tell you when it’s your turn. You choose per­for­mance and price level (there are six), but the sys­tem as­signs spe­cific seats on a best-avail­able ba­sis.

Call­ing the Straz

This is the only method of pur­chase that has not been ad­justed to pre­pare for a crush of buy­ers. The Straz ac­ti­vates its phone sys­tem at 9 a.m., and there is no way of queue­ing call­ers.

Ticket re­sellers

Over the past sev­eral months, re­sale out­lets ac­ces­si­ble on any on­line search have ad­ver­tised Hamil­ton tick­ets for up to $1,200. The Straz is warn­ing cus­tomers to stay away from such web­sites, avail­able on any on­line search, and can only guar­an­tee the au­then­tic­ity of their own tick­ets. Pa­trons who buy from bro­kers “run the risk of over­pay­ing or pur­chas­ing fraud­u­lent tick­ets,” a Straz state­ment says.

Strict four-ticket limit

In an ef­fort to spread op­por­tu­ni­ties around, the Straz is mak­ing every ef­fort to limit tick­ets to four per house­hold. So you and your spouse or­der­ing four tick­ets each for a big night out with friends might not work and could back­fire. Any­one found in vi­o­la­tion of the pol­icy will have all their tick­ets can­celled.

Photo by Joan Mar­cus

Joseph Mo­rales stars as the tit­u­lar role in Lin-Manuel Mi­randa’s tour­ing Hamil­ton. Tick­ets for the Tampa shows go on sale Fri­day.

Photo by Joan Mar­cus

Shoba Narayan, left, Ta’Rea Campbell and Nyla Sostre star as the Schuyler Sis­ters of tour­ing Hamil­ton. The Tampa per­for­mances are sure to sell out quickly. Be­ware any re­seller mar­kets.

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