Schenectady's next red-hot theater ticket is still more than a year away.
"Hamilton," the musically hip story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, will sell out quickly when the production comes to Proctors August 13-25, 2019.
But people who want tickets should exercise caution — they could get burned buying a seat for the show.
Philip Morris, chief executive officer for the downtown theater, said the only way people can secure tickets right now is by buying a Proctors subscription — a seven-ticket package of tickets purchased in advance of the coming season.
After subscriptions fill up, Proctors eventually will offer single ticket sales. Morris said that won't happen until mid-2019.
One Internet ticket site already has priced "Hamilton" and is ready to sell "e-Tickets."
A "Google" search for "Hamilton Proctors" delivers a top-loaded page for EventTicketsCenter.com. The site is offering tickets for the Aug. 17, 2019, presentation of "Hamilton" — in the "orchestra right center" section — for $2,580 each.
Someone who wants two "Hamilton" seats from EventTicketsCenter.com will be charged $5,160. With additional charges — that are not explained on the site — the final total is $6,612.75. The site recommends an extra $190.12 for a ticket purchase protection plan.
All sales, the site says, are final.
The site also let's prospective buyers know where they are shopping: "ETC is a resale marketplace, not a venue," reads a line near the top of the home page. "Prices may be above face value."
Morris said any site selling "Hamilton" tickets right now does not have tickets in hand. "They just collect your money and then figure it out," he said, adding that such a practice is a "dangerous game."
Internet ticket sales are already changing. Google took a new stand against resellers who misrepresent themselves on Jan. 1. Anyone who now wants to resell tickets with the search engine's help must be a certified reseller.
According to a statement from Google, "Resellers won't be able to imply that they are the primary or original provider of event tickets, and must disclose to customers that they are a reseller."
Right now, people can lock up "Hamilton" through subscription. Here's how Proctors' subscription plan works:
One subscription equals one ticket. A person buying a subscription gets the same seat to each show in the package. "Hamilton" is part of 2018-2019 Proctors subscription series, a package that also includes "Anastasia," "A Bronx Tale," "School of Rock," "Ronald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factor," "Waitress" and the choice of one show at Capital Repertory Theatre.
"Hamilton" is also part of the 2018-2019 season package at Capital Repertory.
Proctors' subscriptions start at $207 and go up to $533, depending on the day of the week chosen for the show and seat location.
Morris said about 13,000 subscriptions have been sold. People who are current subscription holders have until March 27 to renew their deals with the theater.
Morris said subscriptions will be capped at 15,000 — a number he expects will be reached soon.
"At that point, there will no more subscriptions available and there won't be another 'Hamilton' ticket sold until 2019," Morris said.
"We don't even know what single ticket prices will be," Morris also said. "We're not going to know until the day they ("Hamilton" producers) tell us, which will be two months before the show or something like that."
Morris added single seat prices could be expensive. "It could be that single tickets are even more than the whole subscription," he said.
Morris added some third party sellers will try to buy multiple subscriptions just to secure a hot ticket, like "Hamilton." During some sales calls, Proctors personnel will ask questions if they think they're dealing with people who are just going to re-sell the tickets.
"We scan every single sale, every night," Morris said. "If they're out of state and have no relationship with us from the past we'll call them. It could be you live in California and you want to buy two subscriptions for your kid, we don't want to screw that up.
"But we'll call them and if they don't have a rational reason why they're buying two subscriptions in California, we cancel the order."
Morris added some profit-minded buyers — who will try to re-sell "Hamilton" tickets at huge prices — will get through. But he said these sites will score a relatively small number of seats for the 12-day run of the show.
Online sales for Proctors tickets are limited. People can't buy as many as they want.
Some local people who buy subscription packages might decide they don't want to see "Hamilton."
"They can sell it to a neighbor, put it on Craigslist, because it's local," Morris said. "That's what will happen, you'll see tickets on Craigslist for big money. People will have them and either don't want them or whatever."
Morris has heard stories about people paying high costs for "scalped" tickets. He said one man who wanted to see Proctors' recent production of "Les Mis" heard the theater had sold out. He ended up paying $2,000 for two tickets.
Morris heard the man's story when he was in a group of people discussing the secondary market tactics.
"It was not sold out," Morris said of the show. "It sold very, very well but every show had some seats. And this was a month ago, he's a friend of the theater and he knows me personally. I said, 'You didn't text me, call me? You have my cell phone number.'"
The tickets would have cost $90 each through Proctors. The man eventually went to his credit card company, reported a scam and was able to recoup his investment. He then bought tickets at the theater's rate.
Morris said tickets are resold for big money at sports events. He believes because there are so many available seats in football and baseball stadiums, team officials are less anxious about scalping than are theater personnel.
If people miss "Hamilton" in 2019, Morris believes they'll have another chance at the show.
"It will be back and it will be back reasonably soon," he said. "That's the way they're going to manage demand.
"In many ways, I'm impressed with how they do it," he added. "They provide a lot of affordable tickets, they do 'Ham4Ham' in every city."
The "Ham" gag is a pre-show lottery that gives some people a chance to see the show for $10 — the $10 bill has always featured a portrait of the star of the show.
While Morris is unsure how many single seat tickets third-party sellers will get, he knows they won't have a lot of time to make purchases.
"It will be sold out three hours after the single tickets go on sale," Morris said.
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected].