'Hamilton' Jacks Up Premium Seats to New High of $849

Courtesy of Joan Marcus
Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda in 'Hamilton'

The move, accompanied by a more modest hike in standard ticket prices, is part of a bid by producers to combat the escalating loss of revenues to scalpers.

As ticket demand for Broadway's white-hot hit Hamilton continues to soar, producers are bumping up prices in an effort to wrestle back some of the revenue stream being lost to secondary-market sellers.

In a new block of tickets that recently went on sale to American Express Centurion and Platinum cardholders for early 2017 (the show is sold out through January), the premium price for the most desirable rows of the orchestra section at the Richard Rodgers Theatre has risen steeply to $849, up from $475. That sets a new high for Broadway, hurdling over The Book of Mormon, which sells premium seating for $477.

Standard ticket prices in the rear orchestra, mezzanine and balcony of the house also have seen an increase, now going for between $179 and $199. A new block of tickets at the adjusted prices for the later months of 2017 is expected to be made available after Sunday night's Tony Awards, where Hamilton looks set to dominate.

The move follows an op-ed piece published by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda earlier this week in The New York Times, calling for tougher laws in New York State to stem the use of illegal automated online ticket-purchasing software known as "bots" to monopolize purchasing and then resell at inflated prices.

The average cost of Hamilton tickets on the resale market is believed to be around $1,000, but seats have regularly been going for north of $4,000 apiece. Producers are hoping that by raising prices they will decrease the profit margin for scalpers, thereby discouraging the activity.

Commenting to The New York Times, lead producer Jeffrey Seller said, "If I'm at $849, I think we may succeed in taking the motivation out of our scalpers to buy those tickets." Moves also are being implemented to limit the purchase of large blocks of tickets, favoring individual buyers in groups of no more than six.

Producers of the show also are attempting to counterbalance the escalating prices by expanding the show's lottery system, which up to now has offered 21 front-row seats per performance at just $10 each. Going forward, the lottery will cover 46 seats in the first two rows. Those tickets remain elusive to the vast majority, however, given that more than 10,000 people enter the lottery each day.

The best option for a cheap ticket to Hamilton would appear to be enrolling in a New York public high school. Via an initiative subsidized by the Rockefeller Foundation, 20,000 students per year are able to attend special matinees of the show for just $10.

While the demand for tickets seems unlikely to deflate any time soon, pundits will be watching to see if the rumored departure of Miranda and other original castmembers from the production next month will have any impact on availability, along with the September opening of a second production in Chicago.

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