Thursday, November 15, 2018
Stage

Hamilton tickets go on sale in Tampa this week. Here's what you need to know.

Immediately after announcing it had booked Hamilton, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts had to revise its automated phone greeting. Fans calling about Hamilton could press 1.

Everyone wanted to know when tickets were going on sale. That date has now arrived.

Tickets for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking take on the Founding Fathers go on sale at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov.16. Seats range from $86 to $489, with a limit of four tickets per household.

The show’s hip-hop style, inventive set, color-blind casting and furious pace helped it snag 11 Tony awards in 2016. It has history, betrayal and a smoldering rivalry between flawed hero Alexander Hamilton and his nemesis Aaron Burr. Many have likened Hamilton to previous musicals that changed the genre, including Oklahoma, South Pacific, West Side Story and Rent.

The frenzy over tickets has spawned a shadowy resale market. It even dinged the gubernatorial campaign of Andrew Gillum, who received a ticket from an undercover FBI agent.

For months, the Straz told fans the only way they could guarantee getting a seat was to buy season tickets. Then the season packages sold out.

But there are still plenty of seats left over. For now.

The basics haven’t changed. You can purchase tickets online, in person or over the phone. But because of the intensity or popularity, the It Factor or whatever, the Straz has added some layers. Here is a quick guide.

If you buy in person

This is not the kind of thing where people will be pitching tents. The venue will not allow customers on the property until 5 a.m. Friday. A lottery system gives numbered wristbands to those arriving between 5:30 and 7 a.m. When ticket windows open at 9 a.m., Straz staffers will begin calling those numbers randomly.

It’s not first come, first served. Early birds won’t necessarily get rewarded.

"There is literally no advantage to arriving early," Straz spokesman Paul Bilyeu said. "You could arrive at 6:59 and have the same chance as someone who got there at 5:30."

On the other hand, customers can wander, hit the coffee shop or sit down, which beats standing in line for hours. That’s the trade-off.

The game changes a little after 7 a.m.

Those arriving after that time will be placed in a queue and given different sequentially-numbered wristbands, and will not be able to buy tickets until everyone who arrived before 7 a.m. has been served — if there are any left, Straz officials said.

Ordering online

Starting at 9 a.m., a computer randomly assigns opportunities to buy tickets within a 10-minute window. Buyers who log on after 9 a.m. will be placed in line and served in order, similar to the in-person system. The site allows you to sign up for email alerts that tell you when it’s your turn. You choose performance and price level (there are six), but the system assigns specific seats on a best-available basis.

Calling the Straz

This is the only method of purchase that has not been adjusted to prepare for a crush of buyers. The Straz activates its phone system at 9 a.m., and there is no way of queueing callers.

Ticket resellers

Over the past several months, resale outlets accessible on any online search have advertised Hamilton tickets for up to $1,200. The Straz is warning customers to stay away from such websites, available on any online search, and can only guarantee the authenticity of their own tickets. Patrons who buy from brokers "run the risk of overpaying or purchasing fraudulent tickets," a Straz statement says.

Strict four-ticket limit

In an effort to spread opportunities around, the Straz is making every effort to limit tickets to four per household. So you and your spouse ordering four tickets each for a big night out with friends might not work and could backfire. Anyone found in violation of the policy will have all their tickets cancelled.

Contact Andrew Meacham at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

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