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Hip-hop ‘Hamilton’ is Hennepin’s hot ticket

August 25, 2018

Talk about not missing their shot: Longtime friends Aileen Devitt White, Mary Olsen Baker and Marna Bothum Gisvold decided last year to buy Hennepin Theatre season tickets together.

They wanted to be at the head of the line when the Twin Cities engagement of Hamilton opens Wednesday for a six-week Minneapolis run.

Were over the moon, said White, whose group is headed to opening night. Ill get to see what all the noise is about.

That noise is a drumbeat of excitement from ardent theatergoers, bandwagon-jumpers and the curious, all eager to see whether Lin-Manuel Mirandas blockbuster musical lives up to the hype.

In preparation, workers at the Orpheum Theatre have even polished the chandeliers with toothbrushes. Demand for seats has been so overwhelming that when season tickets went on sale in February, the system crashed.

Alexandria Reyes, who camped out overnight at the box office when single tickets went on sale two months ago, plans to wear cool Hamilton gear to the show: skirt, heels and a T-shirt that says Im Not Throwing Away My Shot, a reference to a song in the show.

Its really the story of America but with a nice twist, said Reyes, a die-hard fan who hopes to see the show at least twice, thanks in part to a Hamilton lottery that will parcel out 40 $10 tickets to each show here.

Multimillion-dollar visit

Hamilton is one of the most successful shows in history, having grossed more than $400 million on Broadway alone, not to mention revenue from album sales and other merchandise, two touring companies and London and Chicago productions.

How much will it earn in its six-week Minneapolis run? Tour producers typically dont release ticket grosses, and the use of dynamic pricing means tickets vary considerably. But you can take a stab at doing the math: Hamilton reportedly grosses more than $3 million per week in Chicago at a theater with 1,800 seats, and averages $3 million in New York at a 1,300-seat theater. The Orpheum has 2,600 seats.

When tickets went on sale in June and instantly disappeared, Hennepin Theatre Trust (HTT) officials said more would go on sale later.

Later turns out to be now.

Officials at HTT, which presents Hamilton and other Broadway shows in Minneapolis, arent saying exactly where these tickets came from but they can become available in several ways.

Artist seats are typically released during the run of every touring show seats saved for cast and crew members that they end up not using. Also, during runs of Hamilton in other cities, producers released seats purchased by brokers who tried to buy more than the maximum allowed.

Tickets are available for nearly all performances, including resale seats. In general, prices are lower and more tickets are available for dates later in the run.

The open seats that recently popped up wont be the last ones, either. HTT spokesman Dale Stark said seats are apt to be released throughout the run, and the best bet for ticket-seekers is to check the Ticketmaster site regularly.

Of course, scalpers are hawking tickets for exorbitant prices. To avoid counterfeit tickets, HTT advises people to buy only from two sources: the State Theatre box office or online at Ticketmaster, which also offers resale tickets.

Also, in this age of social media, they warn against posting photos of tickets online.

Anything that anybody can print at home on a printer thats where the real sleazy people show up, said Jim Sheeley, president of the Historic Theatre Group, which manages the Hennepin playhouses. Thats the thing we worry about the most. Whoever gets to the door first how can you say that its not a legit ticket?

A galvanizing force

Hamilton took the revolutionary step of using hip-hop to tell the story of the men and women who fought the American Revolution. Miranda also cast people of color as the Founding Fathers and Mothers.

Kids and adults alike see themselves onstage in a way I dont think Broadway has seen in the past because of the diversity of our cast, said the shows dance supervisor, Kourtni Lind-Watson, who hails from the Twin Cities and is traveling with this tour. It just opens up humanness in a way that I dont know I have seen onstage at this level.

The show is having an effect on the field as a whole, and not just by galvanizing ticket sales. As Phantom of the Opera did more than two decades ago, Hamilton has become a catalyst for theater upgrades.

The Broadway playhouses in Minneapolis have seen a host of backstage improvements, from dressing rooms to the loading dock. The marquee of the State Theatre has been re-lamped, with new wiring and bulbs; the Orpheum is soon to follow.

Said Sheeley: You want to be spiffy for your guests.

Staff writer Chris Hewitt contributed to this report.

Rohan Preston 612-673-4390

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