'Hamilton' ticket scramble causes long waits, frustration

  • The hype for the Broadway hit "Hamilton" caused long waits for Chicago tickets Tuesday.

    The hype for the Broadway hit "Hamilton" caused long waits for Chicago tickets Tuesday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/21/2016 6:08 PM

Fans eager to see the hit musical "Hamilton" paid a premium Tuesday -- in time and money -- as they tried to purchase tickets for the national tour's launch at Chicago's PrivateBank Theatre in September.

People began lining up Monday outside the theater at 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago. By the time the box office opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the line extended down Dearborn Street and wrapped around the block from Madison Street to State, said Jane Brannan of Elk Grove Village, who arrived downtown about 7:45 a.m.

 

"We ran to Target to buy chairs. We didn't think ahead," said Brannan, who managed to order them on her phone around 11 a.m. before reaching the front of the line.

While Broadway in Chicago does not release numbers, Vice President Eileen LaCario called the demand for the Tony Award-winning musical "unprecedented."

By late afternoon Tuesday, some online resellers were advertising single tickets for $8,000. Ticketmaster seats started at $62 and went up to almost $600 for weekends and holidays.

For many trying to order from home or work, the demand quickly led to frustration.

It took Carrie Tiz of Aurora 90 minutes to purchase tickets online.

"Almost immediately you could tell Ticketmaster was having problems," Tiz said in an email. "I would find two tickets, but then would lose them as they were 'securing the verified tickets.' After 20 minutes of waiting, there would be an error and the tickets would be lost."

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After TicketMaster's website crashed, Grant Diamond, acting on a Twitter tip, tried TicketMaster's automated number. Twenty minutes later, the Geneva resident paid about $400 for six balcony tickets "the farthest you can be from the stage," he said.

"If there's a buzz about something, I want to try to be there," said Diamond, who intends to share the tickets with family and friends but might consider selling them on the lucrative secondary market.

Debbie Gross of Buffalo Grove says passion, not profit, motivated her ticket purchase. After spending two hours using three computers, one iPad and two iPhones, she and her daughter Carly secured six tickets to a February 2017 matinee for about $600. By late afternoon, they snagged three more tickets for a different date.

Gross tried to get tickets for the Broadway production for next week. The cheapest tickets were $1,900, she said.

"I didn't want what happened in New York to happen in Chicago," she said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The show will be in Chicago from Sept. 27 through March 19, though it could be extended. The Chicago cast has not yet been announced.

Tiz eventually downloaded the Ticketmaster app and succeeded in snagging two tickets for Dec. 1.

"I sure hope I have nothing planned on that date," she said.

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