I spent all ofmy money on a ticket to “Hamilton,” and I’mOKwith that
Before February 2015, there were only a couple of things you knew about Alexander Hamilton. He is a Founding Father. His face is on the $10 bill.
Now you know he’s an immigrant. He raps. He’s that Founding Father that Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired by, wrote the musical about and stars as in “Hamilton” on Broadway. You know the correct order forManuel and Miranda.
You know all this not because you suddenly remembered a way-back-when social studies class, but because your friend who grewup inNewYork saw the show in July and hasn’t stopped talking about that “Cabinet scene.” Because your coworker splurged on a ticket for her birthday for a September Broadway performance before the show even opened on Broadway. Because in November you listened to the soundtrack at the top of the charts on Spotify to see what all the hype was about. Because you went online in December just to see how much tickets cost and learned that the show is sold out until August.
This iswhat led me to sit in front ofmy computer on the last Monday of 2015, toggling between Ticketmaster.com, StubHub.com and BroadwayTickets.org in search of resale tickets (once less delicately known as scalpers’ tickets). After comparing service fees while suffering flashbacks ofmy momsaying, “Don’t buy that ticket!” onmy Christmas visit home to the Midwest, I finally heldmy breath and clicked “purchase.” So please don’t suggest any happyhour outings during January and February. I’ll be drinking wine strictly at home, thank you.
The ticket I bought isn’t a great seat, or even a good one. It’s the best one I found for the ridiculously high price of $500, the most Iwould allowmyself to spend. Yet as I looked at tickets in the orchestra for more than $600, $800 and $1,000, I foundmyself thinking, for a split second, “Should I spend another $100?”
Yes, I know it’s crazy, but I’m not the only one who has caught “Hamilton” fever.
“I still can’t justify it,” says Kody Keplinger, 24, the author of the young-adult novel “The Duff,” of the thought of shelling out that much for a ticket. “You have to pay rent.”
Keplinger has seen “Hamil- ton.” She and her mom won the ticket lottery on a Sunday—“the day Lin-Manuel Miranda is off.” So now she’s trying to see the show again. Two days in a row, she tried to get cancellation tickets, which are made available for purchase a half-hour before the 7 or 8 p.m. curtain.
“My best friend and I showed up at 1 p.m.,” she remembers, but they ended up being “the next people in line when they ran out of tickets.” It was the same exact story for the next evening’s performances.
She still hopes she can score a $10 #Ham4Ham ticket in the daily lottery, just like the more than 50,000 people who entered the online lottery Jan. 5— and who crashed the show’s website. That was the only day of the winter online lottery.
Sarah Gaines, a 25-year-old restaurant cashier who’s pursuing a career in theater, has seen “Hamilton” twice, mainly because she’s “a huge fan” of actor Andrew Rannells (of “Girls” and “Book ofMormon” fame), who played King George in the show for one month. Gaines paid $800 for her first ticket, in the front mezzanine, during the premiere week of what she dubbed “Rannellton.” The second cost her $400 for a seat in very last row of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, for Rannells’ last performance.
“I basically didn’t spend mon- ey on anything else. That includes hiding downstairs during my breaks at work instead of going to get food,” Gaines says. “This is the first time I’ve spent this much on anything.”
As for me, I calmly could have rescheduledmy trip to New York upon news of this weekend’s impending snowstorm instead of panicking and paying the $39 fee (yes, more money for “Hamilton”) to change the train ticket that I bought more than two weeks in advance to get a $137 round-trip deal.
But it’s OK. I know that these sacrifices will be worth it.
After all, I get to be part of the zeitgeist.
I will get to see the man who created the musical perform it as he envisioned with the original cast; my photos will live as a Facebook brag in between everyone else’s wedding, baby and new-home photos; and I will tell the story of the time I saw “Hamilton” for years to come.
This is a moment. When presidential hopefuls are talking immigration and everyone else is talking #OscarsSoWhite for a second year in a row, the hottest ticket in the country is a musical about an immigrant written by a minority artist in which people are break-dancing onstage.
And I am not missing my one shot. Not after what I paid for that ticket.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, foreground, with the cast during a performance of “Hamilton” inNewYork. Joan Marcus, The Public Theater