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FEATURE: On Hamilton

Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and the ensemble of Hamilton.

Last Friday, the Hennepin Theatre Trust delighted Twin Cities theatregoers with a succinct message to its email subscribers:

The national tour of the Broadway musical HAMILTON will play the Orpheum Theatre as part of the 2018-2019 Broadway on Hennepin Season. The best way to guarantee seats to HAMILTON is to purchase a season subscription for the 2017-2018 Bank of America Broadway on Hennepin Season when it is announced on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Subscribers who renew for the 2018-2019 season will be able to guarantee their seats for the premiere Minneapolis engagement of HAMILTON before tickets become available to the general public.

Christopher Jackson (center) as George Washington in Hamilton.

While 2018 may seem far away, it’s actually not a bad bet. Tickets to see Hamilton in New York City are sold out far in advance – in November 2015, it already had a record $57 million in advance ticket sales, a total that is unlikely to have declined. Scalping tickets to the musical has created a huge secondary market that even the upcoming launch of a satellite Chicago production has failed to quell.

The Hennepin Theatre Trust manages several theatres in Minneapolis’s WeDo Cultural District and hosts most touring Broadway musical productions that reach the Twin Cities. (Touring shows sometimes land at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul; however, only one of next season’s musicals there will be a touring production.)

An interesting facet of the announcement is the link to season subscriptions. At the Hennepin Theatre Trust, like most performing arts organizations, season tickets go on sale before single-show tickets – a valuable trait, say, if you are looking to get seats next to your friends, or to snag the most prime seats within a pricing block. Nationwide, season ticket sales are declining for most organizations, both cultural and athletic, as entertainment consumption habits vary. Whether the allure of Hamilton – a popularly and critically show that has already made history in many categories – can entice single-ticket buyers to become subscribers remains to be seen, but it’s not a bad bet – the show seems poised to easily surpass the advance sales milestones set by The Book of Mormon tours.

Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda in the Broadway production of Hamilton.
Basil Considine