I’ve been enjoying all the great things in the media about the show “Hamilton” on Broadway (and love the soundtrack). It seems to be a pretty special show. But I’d also like to tell you why “Hamilton” is special in a bad way.
It is such a phenomenon that ticket sales went through the roof. That’s a great thing. I’ve got no problem with that. Now I work with an amazing bunch of fine arts students and arts lovers at Illinois State University and the surrounding area. As part of my job, I host student and community New York Theatre trips. These are trips that have been going on for over 30 years. I bring large groups of people (the upcoming June trip will be 98 people) from Illinois to New York every year to see shows – we spend a lot of money and see some great theatre. For my June group, I usually order tickets 4 months ahead. But with “Hamilton,” I went ahead and ordered tickets 9 months in advance (well before they released tickets for that time period). I was told there would be no group discount, and the tickets would be $178 each, but I understood and was ready to bite the bullet. But then, “Hamilton” decided to release tickets first to AmEx customers only… all the way through August of 2016!
They apparently filled no group orders at all. All the tickets were bought up by brokers, so while there are now, as I understand it, 200-300 tickets available for many performances, they’re all controlled by brokers who are selling them for $1,000 a pop in many cases. Groups like mine can’t buy from brokers. Plus, the markup money doesn’t even go to the show.
So I urge my former theatre management students, and anyone else out there in the field… if you ever have the opportunity to be involved with an honest-to-goodness phenomenon, enjoy it, but also think through those ticket alliances, and consider the audiences you wish to serve when you have that kind of opportunity.