Hamilton
COURTESY PHOTO

I paid $770 for one ticket to “Hamilton” and it was worth every penny.

The hardest part was deciding how high I was willing to go. Considering the Broadway musical is the hottest show in memory, it was impossible to say what my limit was.

Was I willing to spend 24 hours in front of the theater (essentially camping on the streets of New York) waiting to see if I’d get one on the cancellation line? Or was I willing to pay a scalper as much as $20,000, just to see the original Broadway cast?

Because the show has been running for more than a year, insiders are convinced those actors will start leaving the show shortly after the Tony Awards. That means the “original” experience will be over. Sure, others will do just as well (if not better) in the roles. But it won’t be the OBC (as online chat rooms call the “original Broadway cast”).

Because I didn’t buy a ticket last July (for THIS May), I had to face the inevitable: Miss the show or be willing to donate a kidney to be able to fund it.

I knew I didn’t have the fortitude to sit on the street in the New York heat (without access to food or bathrooms), so I was forced to consider buying a scalper’s ticket.

Fake tickets, though, are rampant. I watched a number of “re-seller” websites and saw the price range from $700 (before handling fees) for the last row in the second balcony to $25,000 for the orchestra. Unfortunately, no one wanted to sell just one ticket. They wanted to sell two. If I only wanted one, I was looking at $2,000. As much as I wanted to hear about Alexander Hamilton’s “shot,” I didn’t want to sacrifice that much.

I was willing, however, to spend $500. My rationale? “Premium” seats were sold at the box office for $400-something. That wasn’t THAT much more.

As I got closer to the day I could go (I had two dates in mind), I saw the price go down and the two-seat minimum disappear. At 5 p.m. (actually 5:14 p.m. – if you want to get all Ron Chernow about it), I bit the bullet and bought a ticket that amounted to $770 with handling fees.

I just needed a printer to “immediately download.” I went to my hotel’s business office and, for $1, the manager printed out the ticket. The problem? It wasn’t the seat I bought. Freaking out when I discovered this, I called the seller, was told he sent the right one and was advised to go back to the business office and print it again.

There, the manager told me she had forgotten to “clear” the last printout and made a mistake. She printed the right one and I gingerly placed it in the safe.

The next day, one hour before showtime, I got in line and was told re-sellers often sell one seat three or four times. “You need to be the first one in the theater if that happened.”

Again, panic set in and I was sure I was going to be turned away at the door, $770 poorer.

My heart was pounding when the usher zapped my printout. For a moment, time stood still. “Up the center aisle and to the left,” he said.

I was in. I was so excited I didn’t even stop at the merchandise stand.

Once I got to my seat (which was great – in the orchestra with a full view of the whole stage), I was asked how much I paid. The price varied for the same section. A woman next to me spent $1,100. The man behind me spent $440. The man in front of me waited in line and spent $140. Surprisingly price didn’t matter. Once the show began, it was clear we were witnessing history — and it wasn’t all hype. The show was incredible.

Fighting the crowd at intermission, however, was a nightmare. I rushed to that souvenir stand, spent too much money and had to swim upstream to get back to my seat. Two people near me didn’t make it until 20 minutes into the second act. They got hung up in the restroom and couldn’t get back in time.

When the show was over, we all agreed the waiting, the worry, the price and the anticipation were worth it.

“Hamilton” was everything you’ve heard and more.

And, best of all, I was in the room where it happened.

Bruce Miller is the entertainment reporter for the Sioux City Journal.

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