"Hamilton" continues to rack up the honors, and that's likely to make it even more difficult to get tickets.
The Broadway show was nominated for a record-setting 16 Tony Awards on Tuesday, the latest coup for a production that has earned its creator a MacArthur "genius" award and the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music, lyrics and book. That may whet your appetite for tickets to the show, but don't count on seeing it anytime soon, unless you're either rich or lucky.
"Hamilton" is sold out through January 2017, while resellers are offering tickets for as much as $2,000 each. Those who think they're lucky can enter an online lottery for $10 tickets, but the odds aren't good: In January, more than 50,000 people entered the drawing in one day. There's also the in-person lottery, where 21 front-row tickets are raffled off on the day of the performance.
"The show has won the Pulitzer, nominated for a record-breaking amount of Tonys, and may shatter the top cost ever for premium seats (they may rise to $995, which is more than my rent)," said Mark Levy, an actor whose quest to see "Hamilton" sparked his Facebook page "Will Mark Levy Ever See Hamilton?," in an email. He added, "The show is impossible for average people to see. It's a true shame as it is a show for the masses."
So who's benefiting from the show's popularity? It turns out that resellers may be making out like bandits, profiting by at least $30,000 for every show, according to Bloomberg, which cited research from economics professor Matt Rousu. On an annual basis, resellers are taking home $12.5 million from the show -- profits that aren't going to the show's producers or actors.
It's also making "Hamilton" prohibitively expensive for Broadway aficionados. Brokers may seek as much as $4,500 per ticket after the Tony nominations, according to The New York Post, which added that the producers are considering increasing the premium ticket price to $995 each, up from $549 per ticket. That could help them keep more of the profits that otherwise would go to resellers.
"Hamilton" may represent the expensive tip of a very overpriced iceberg, according to an investigation into sports and entertainment ticket pricing by New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman earlier this year. His report found that more than half of all tickets are reserved for "event insiders and pre-sale customers," while brokers use illegal software to snap up tickets just seconds after they go on sale.
"Ticketing is a fixed game," Schneiderman said in a statement. "This investigation is just the beginning of our efforts to create a level playing field in the ticket industry."
Even if you can succeed in buying tickets, you'll often face additional costs, such as fees from Ticketmaster that can add as much as 21 percent to the ticket's face value, Schneiderman's report found. And third-party resellers ask for prices that provide them with average margins of almost 50 percent above a ticket's face value, it added.
It's not as if "Hamilton" producers and its staff aren't doing well, however. The show has grossed almost $32 million in sales this year alone, according to BroadwayWorld.com. The producers last month said they would share some of the musical's profits with its original cast members.
People desperate to catch the show can try to buy a ticket far in advance, enter the lottery or deal with a reseller, although all three options have their downsides. Levy, who said he finally saw the show after a connection helped him get a seat, has attempted to win the in-person lottery 31 times. He said he would still love to win tickets through the in-person lottery.
"Is it worth $1000? I personally don't think so. That's absurd, but I'm in a lower-income class (yay poor actor)," he noted. He also noted, "The show is fantastic and truly powerful and moving theatre."
That may explain why some theater-goers are willing to shell out thousands to see the show, although it could also be simply to gain bragging rights to having snagged tickets.
But here's a word of advice to people who see deals that are too good to be true: They probably are. Scammers have been listing "Hamilton" tickets on Craigslist, hoping to lure the gullible into paying hundreds of dollars for fakes.