The early bird gets the tickets. That’s what people like Danielle Sanzone were banking on.
Sanzone headed to Proctors around 3:45 Monday morning to wait in line for “Hamilton” tickets.
“It would have been earlier but I live in Troy,” Sanzone said, “I do a lot of hiking so I’m used to getting up early.”
Despite getting there well before the sun rose, she was third in line. The other two had gotten there before 3:30 a.m., over six hours before tickets went on sale. Still, Sanzone was surprised that there weren’t more people lined up.
“We’ve all been waiting two years for this run,” Sanzone said.
When Michael Eck, the senior communications and public relations leader for Proctors, got to the theater at 5:30 a.m. the line had grown. When the doors opened at 8 a.m. well over 750 people were lined up around the building. Most were the typical Broadway crowd, said Eck, but there was also a fair number from younger generations in the mix.
The popularity of “Hamilton” doesn’t seem to have waned since it was first produced on Broadway in 2015. The musical follows the story of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, who was George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and the nation’s first treasury secretary. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda with direction from Thomas Kail and choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, “Hamilton” features hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway music. It runs at Proctors from Tues., Aug. 13-Sun. Aug. 25.
“It’s the biggest thing that’s come along the Broadway pipe in years,” Eck said.
Thus, people from across the Capital Region came out to see if they could snag tickets at the Proctors box office.
To even out the playing field and prevent people from camping out, each patron was given a lottery ticket with a random number on it, even those who arrived extra early. When that number was called, the lottery ticket holder could purchase tickets to the show.
Despite Proctors' method for awarded tickets, many people still showed up well before the theater opened.
“We were shocked that people showed up so early,” said Kirsten Kropp of Cohoes.
She arrived long after the early birds but said the wait wasn’t too bad. After standing in line outside, she and the other patrons were ushered into the theater to wait in the velvet red seats for their lottery ticket numbers to be called. A DJ led a game of trivia on the main stage to keep people busy.
“I think they did a good job. They’re keeping us entertained,” said Kay Matuszyk of Niskayuna.
She got to the theater about 6:30 a.m. to try and get four tickets to “Hamilton.”
Four was the ticket limit, at least for now, which made it tricky for families of six, like the Zima family. The Niskayuna family plays the soundtrack around the house all the time so Lindsey Zima, the mother of the family, figured it was worth it to at least try and get tickets.
“We want to continue to support Proctors so we do get shows like ‘Hamilton,’” said Walt Urbanski of Schenectady. He and his wife, Meg, lined up around 7 a.m. to get tickets and were lucky enough to get lottery number 81, relatively low compared to Lela Carpenter’s 392.
The Rotterdam resident was one of the thousands who bought Proctors subscriptions last year to make sure that she would get “Hamilton” tickets. So far, she’s also enjoyed seeing “Waitress,” which made its Proctors stop just a few weeks ago. Carpenter was hoping to buy two tickets on Monday so her children could see the show with her.
Windy Johnson of Malta was also hoping to get tickets for her children.
“I’m a Lin-Manuel Miranda fan,” Johnson said.
She’s seen the national touring production of “Hamilton” twice already, in Boston and Puerto Rico. For her, the diversity of the cast and the music is a big draw.
“I love being able to bring my girls to this,” Johnson said. For good luck, she tweeted at both Miranda and the “Hamilton” account and seeing as she got lottery number 69, the odds seemed like they were in her favor.
While the line at the box office was moving steadily, no one was walking away with paper tickets. Not because they didn’t get to purchase them, but as a way to counter ticket scalping.
“We’re doing our best to fight the scalpers,” Eck said.
Paper tickets will be held at the box office and patrons can either have them mailed to their address or they can pick them up right before the show.
Throughout the day, people also bought tickets online at proctors.org, which is the only website that Proctors can guarantee has legitimate tickets, said Eck.
Starting at 10 a.m. buyers were put into a queue and had to wait to get to the purchasing screen. The queue refreshed every few seconds, pushing buyers along. However, with thousands of people trying to get through the system at once, things didn’t go exactly according to plan. Over an hour after the tickets went on sale, several social media users wrote that the system wasn’t working.
One user tweeted, “I've gone through the Queue 3 times so far and each time get booted out near the end for a gateway error. The phone hasn't been reachable at all. Now, what are the suggestions to get these tickets?”
Another wrote, “You probably already know this but your site is throwing a 502 once a user reaches the store.”
Shortly before noon, Proctors tweeted that the website was experiencing technical difficulties and they were changing course. “We have turned off the queue and patrons are now able to purchase regularly.” Later on, Proctors tweeted "Thank you all for your patience. Additional tickets for Hamilton have been released."
According to Philip Morris, the CEO of Proctors, there were also around 40 Proctors representatives taking calls from people who wanted to purchase tickets over the phone. Some on social media had trouble getting through or commented on the long wait times. "How many times would you recommend? I have called over 400 times now in the last hour," one person tweeted in response to Proctors. Others said they were able to get tickets over the phone after a long wait.
As of Monday afternoon, the tickets were not sold out, though, according to Eck, it wouldn’t be surprising if the entire run eventually sells out.
Tickets are $95-165, with a select number of premium tickets available for $265.
For more information visit proctors.org or call the box office at 518-346-6204.