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How we got good tickets to see ‘Hamilton’

Text and images by MARTIN JAVIER

PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN View from the orchestra side is the perfect angle to catch the entirety of the stage; and the author sneaks in a photo right before the show started

PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN View from the orchestra side is the perfect angle to catch the entirety of the stage; and the author sneaks in a photo right before the show started

I had never heard of Hamilton until a couple of years ago, when I stumbled upon its “mixtape.” Artists collaborated to cover songs from the musical. Since I was a big fan of Sia, I immediately skipped to check out her version of “Satisfied”—and, boy, was I satisfied! I was instantly hooked. 

My interest only grew after that. I researched, I listened, and I dreamed of catching it live one day. And that day came. On my first visit to New York City in early January this year, I got to catch and experience the magic of one of the most successful musicals ever.

Lucky seats

A basic Broadway photo: the playbill shot. I just had to. This is Hamilton, you guys.

A BASIC BROADWAY PHOTO: the playbill shot. I just had to. This is Hamilton, you guys

Hamilton, which tells the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, is easily one of the most popular plays in recent Broadway history, with a massive following worldwide. It has racked up prestigious awards including 11 Tonys, a Grammy, and a Pulitzer. So getting tickets would expectedly be tough. Some say you have to book tickets one year in advance because everything’s sold out. Not in my case though. In a fortunate turn of events, I was able to get tickets on the spot, without a reservation, and one week before the playdate.

My friend and I were coming off a full day of touring in NYC. We went to the Met, visited the Flat Iron building, and went up the top of the rock at the Rockefeller Center. For better context, those were a few train stops and hundreds of steps apart. We were a bit exhausted, so we looked for something relaxing to do in the evening. While searching, we passed by different theater venues near Times Square. Our instinct was to check which shows were on. Just the night before, we watched Wicked at the Gershwin Theater. Why not go back-to-back? Coincidentally, the first venue we approached was Richard Rodgers Theater on 46th.

“History is happening in Manhattan,” a banner encapsulated the featured show just by the entrance. Before going to the ticket booth, we went back and forth about how there were probably no tickets left and all the shows were full, until we decided to finally give it a try.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT My first time at the historic Richard Rodgers Theater.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT My first time at the historic Richard Rodgers Theater

There were two tickets left for that evening, but neither offered good seats. We decided that it was better to pick a later date that offered better ones. Easily one of the best decisions of our trip. Luck worked in our favor as we found two Orchestra seats beside each other at $239 per ticket. It was a pretty solid deal considering how good the seats we got were. The show was a week away so we had time to “prepare” for it. Hamilton is a little pricier than other Broadway plays so we were lucky. The most expensive could go for $449 right in front of the stage, but only a few rows before our seats.
 
‘The 10-dollar founding father’

Jan. 4, the day of the show. As we approached Richard Rodgers, we saw a long queue from a block away, going all the way to the back of the theater. We thought it was a line for a different play or for some establishment along the street, but we were mistaken. It was the line going inside the theater! This gives you an idea how in-demand this production is. Pro tip, when you get a chance to catch Hamilton: Go to the theater 40 to 45 minutes earlier to avoid the queue.

After 15 to 20 minutes of waiting, we were finally allowed in. This was it: We were inside the home of Hamilton. It had a small main lobby so we opted to go to our seats right away. 

Richard Rodgers Theater has been around since 1925. It is home to popular musicals like If/ThenChicagoFootloose, and two of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s best works: In the Heights and Hamilton. His latest hit musical has stayed the longest, having occupied the stage since 2015.

Inside, the place gave off that elegant vibe with its red and gold motif. And just like in most Broadway venues, the seats were a little cramped up. There was little to no space to separate each row so it was a bit difficult to move around or even stretch your legs.

Because no shot is wasted

Because no shot is wasted

Once we were settled, I fixed my eyes on the stage where the magic was about to happen. It was a fairly simple setup, inspired by wooden structures and ropes that captured the scenery in the 1800s. What caught my attention was the unusual circle in the middle of the floor, almost looking like a target. It would turn out to be a vital part of the performance.

Then the show finally started. From Alexander’s marvelous introduction down to his dying moments, this masterpiece took us on an emotional rollercoaster ride all throughout. Most people remember it for the songs and the words, but it was also all the other elements that made it work well—the dynamic stage, including its revolving center circle, that transported us to different eras and strategically brought us to key moments in Hamilton’s life; the well-thought-out costumes that brought life to the characters and the unforgettable performances characterized by Lin Manuel-Miranda’s words and exquisite storytelling. These all came together to create this life-changing hit for theater-goers. 

Yes, life-changing. Before the show, I had doubts as to how a musical biography could entertain as much as people said it would. “Maybe they’re exaggerating,” I thought to myself. Nope, all my doubts were erased. There aren’t enough words to describe what I saw.

My favorite moment was the scene when “Satisfied” was performed, when the cast spun on the circle to create a “rewind” effect, showing a flashback of Angelica Schuyler and Alexander’s first meeting. Aside from being my favorite song in the play, this scene alone showed me the creativity and the attention to detail of everyone involved in the production. Each scene created its own unique effect. 

Bringing it home 

I STOPPED AT FOUR Items to remember in my Hamilton experience. I could've had more. Not quite sure if it was the right decision

I STOPPED AT FOUR Items to remember in my Hamilton experience. I could’ve had more. Not quite sure if it was the right decision

After two hours and 45 minutes of theater paradise, we were still on a high, chanting, singing, and humming words we could remember from the play. It was a feeling that didn’t leave you immediately or even long after the experience. We finally understood why it was such a huge hit. And we wanted more—literally. So we went out to the souvenir shop across the venue.
There, we saw all sorts of merchandise, including some witty ones like a shot glass inspired by the song “My Shot.”
Prices were a little high, though: smaller items ranged from $10-$40, while some bigger ones went for as low as $30 and as high as $80. But we were on Broadway and we just watched the best musical of this generation, so we wanted something to show for it. I ended up buying two shirts, a ref magnet, and a tote bag for a grand total of $100. Money well spent.

Hamilton is in the GOAT—the greatest of all time—category of musicals. We were fortunate to have caught it right before the crisis hit. It might take a while before we could watch a musical or any show on stage or theater in person again, but let’s all keep the faith. 

One day, we’ll get to see and experience the energy and magic of live theater once more.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/04/how-we-got-good-tickets-to-see-hamilton/)

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