Thursday, August 16, 2018
Stage

Amid ‘Hamilton’ frenzy, Straz season tickets sell out for the first time in history

TAMPA — Since the announcement that Hamilton would come to Tampa in February, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has fielded inquires from hundreds of customers eager to get seats for the mega-hit musical.

How much will those seats cost? If they can’t buy now, when can they? How can they be sure they won’t get shut out? For months, the venue has responded with the same ready answer.

Buy season tickets. If that solution seemed extravagant, it did have the advantage of being true.

Until now. For the first time in its 30-year history, the Straz Center has sold out its available season ticket packages. The sellout removes the last surefire way for audiences to be guaranteed a seat at Lin Manuel-Miranda’s hip-hop musical about the founding fathers that won 11 Tony awards, including best musical.

The public can still purchase single tickets at a date yet to be announced. The Straz opted against opening up more season tickets so people could still have a chance to see individual shows.

"We had a big demand for more season tickets, but we felt it was important that we have single tickets available for all shows," said Judith Lisi, the Straz Center’s president and CEO.

The Straz has not said how much those seats will cost. But compared with other recent shows, prices will almost certainly start closer to The Book of Mormon ($63.75 and up) than The Color Purple ($31).

After that, Hamilton ticket prices jump big-time through ticket resellers. Resale seats start at $340 and can exceed $1,200 through theatreintampa.com. Another broker, vividseats.com, offers Hamilton tickets from $326 in the upper gallery to $792 for an orchestra seat. The latter price falls toward the upper end of the eight-show season tickets packages that are no longer available.

Single tickets are already on sale for Chicago, Kinky Boots, Tap Dogs and Rock of Ages. Other opening sale dates include Aug. 19 for The Play That Goes Wrong; Sept. 9 for Hello, Dolly!; Nov. 11 for Les Miserables; Nov. 26 for Anastasia and Come From Away; and Dec. 9 for A Bronx Tale. (An opening sale date for the hit musical Dear Evan Hansen, which runs April 9-14, has not been announced.)

RELATED: A look at the Straz’s Broadway lineup

The announcement for an opening sale date for Hamilton tickets will come much closer to the actual date. Lisi said the Straz is following the request of producers as a hedge against online ticket scalpers. In recent years, ticket resellers have spawned much controversy, including a 2017 lawsuit by Ticketmaster against a company that allegedly used automated "scalper bots" to snatch up 40 percent of the available tickets to Hamilton.

The Straz will place limits on the number of tickets customers may buy, Lisi said. In the meantime, the venue uses Iovation software that claims to detect faked credentials, or stolen or fictitious identities used by ticket scalpers.

"There are some of those sites that might be putting tickets on sale that they don’t even have, and people have to watch out for that," Lisi said.

Adventurous Hamil-heads who do get shut out will have one final option — an electronic lottery similar to what the Straz hosted in 2017 for The Book of Mormon. Winners can buy seats for $10, with details coming closer to the run, the venue said.

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

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