The “Hamilton Effect” Hits Madison's Overture Center
“The anticipated Madison premiere of Hamilton is finally here!” crows Tim Sauers in a recent conversation about the upcoming season. Overture’s VP of programming and community engagement is speaking a bit prematurely — the tour buses won’t actually roll into town until mid-November. But ticket seekers are closer to getting in “the room where it happens” than they’ve ever been.
Madison audiences have waited a long time to see Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony, Grammy, and Pulitzer Prize winning, mega-musical Hamilton onstage at Overture Center. The genre-busting, hip-hop musical about a lesser-known U.S. founding father has made superstars out of the original cast (including Philippa Soo, Renee Elise Goldberry, Christopher Jackson, Leslie Odom, Jr., Daveed Diggs and Miranda himself). And since its official Broadway opening in August 2015, it’s also made the top ten list of highest grossing musicals of all time, at $529.3 million and counting.
Dane County Hamilfans have been promised a look at the “ten dollar founding father” for the past two years. They erupted in crazed applause at Overture’s season announcement on April 8. Shortly after, many of them got out their credit cards to purchase six-show subscriptions that include Hamilton, along with Come From Away, My Fair Lady, The Color Purple, The Spongebob Musical, and The Play that Goes Wrong. And like audiences in second- and third-tier markets like Chicago, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Buffalo, their eagerness to see the show has translated into huge revenue increases for performing arts centers.
When Hamilton landed in Chicago, Broadway in Chicago set a precedent — selling out of its fall subscriptions for the first time in the organization’s history. When the show lit up the SHN Orpheum marquee in San Francisco, their memberships doubled — from 20,000 to 40,000. Cleveland’s Playhouse Square saw steady increases over two years, waiting for the “hero and a scholar” to make his entrance, eventually selling 1,000 subscriptions per day for the first three weeks the packages were on sale to the public.
Here in Madison, Sauers is waiting on the final numbers for Overture’s Broadway Series subscriptions, since the ticket office is still selling them. But he’s optimistic that the “Hamilton effect” will put the venue on strong footing. “We expect a 25 to 30 percent increase in subscribers this season,” he says. And with six-show packages ranging from $222 to $696 per person, that’s going to have a very nice effect on the venue’s bottom line.
Predictably, it’s also going to be good financial news for ticket resale sites. Several hundred single tickets are on sale now at Stubhub.com, starting at $348 and topping out at $1,362. Apiece. This is happening, despite the fact that Overture Center actively reviews orders to prevent purchases by scalpers. “Any site other than overture.org which is selling tickets for events at Overture Center is a ticket reseller. If you purchase a ticket from a reseller, you’ll pay significantly more than face value and may not even receive a valid ticket,” says Sauers. He encouraged prospective ticket buyers to learn more about how to purchase legitimate tickets by visiting Overture’s website.
For those unwilling to pay those exorbitant prices or make a full season commitment, but still longing for the Hamilton experience, rest assured that some single tickets will be available for all 25 performances of Hamilton, scheduled over the three-week run, Nov. 19-Dec. 8. Sauers didn’t offer details about prices for individual tickets, but did say each household will be limited to purchasing four seats, and “the single ticket on-sale date will be announced after Labor Day.”
If you’re feeling lucky, you will also be able to enter the #HAM4HAM online lottery each day during the run for the chance to receive two tickets to a performance for only $10 apiece. For more details, Sauers encourages fans of the “young, scrappy and hungry” band of revolutionaries to sign up for Overture’s digital newsletter or follow the organization on social media.