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'Hamilton' Tony nods may make getting tix even harder

Try these hacks to score the hottest seats in a generation

Unless you're lucky, it'll take you dozens of Alexander Hamiltons ($10 bills) to buy a ticket to the hip-hop Broadway musical bearing his name — and prices could rise further yet.

"Hamilton" collected a record-setting 16 Tony Awards nominations Tuesday, including best musical and best original score, as well as with seven performance nominations for actors and actresses in its cast. Lin-Manuel Miranda's work has already collected an array of honors, including a Grammy for best musical theater album and the Pulitzer Prize for drama, along with a MacArthur "genius" grant for Miranda.

As far as demand goes, analysts say "Hamilton" was already in a league of its own.

"Typically, I think Tony nominations do have an impact on the demand for a show, and for other shows nominated this year I am sure that will be the case," said Chris Leyden, a content analyst for SeatGeek.com. "The popularity of 'Hamilton' has already exceeded any typical Tony nomination or win bump."

Composer, actor Lin-Manuel Miranda
Theo Wargo | WireImage | Getty Images
Composer, actor Lin-Manuel Miranda

At peak popularity for another hot show, "Book of Mormon," secondary market tickets averaged $600 to $800, said Chris Matcovich, vice president of data and communications for aggregator TiqIQ.com. That's currently the typical "get-in price" for "Hamilton," he said — the show's overall market averages roughly $1,200.

The show is sold out through January, with the next ticket block goes on sale to the public June 12. Box office prices for that new round of seats will start at $179 for a standard ticket and jump to a whopping $849 for premium.

Representatives for the Richard Rogers Theater, home to "Hamilton," did not respond to requests for comment about ticketing.

While you're waiting for that next ticket block to open up, or if you want to see the show sooner than 2017, here's how to snag a ticket:

Ready your AmEx

American Express cardholders got early access to Hamilton tickets at box office prices during three presale events in August and September 2015 and January 2016, all of which "sold out within days," said Jane Di Leo, a spokeswoman for the card issuer. During the latest June presale event, the early access was limited to Centurian and Platinum cardholders.

But it's unclear if this will continue to be a viable strategy.

"I cannot comment on future presale partnerships with 'Hamilton,'" Di Leo said.

Enter the ticket lottery

There's one for every performance, offering the chance at 21 first-row seats for $10 each. (Under recent ticket-price changes, the show will be offering 46 lottery seats in the new 2017 ticket block.) The lottery is digital for all performances except Wednesday matinees, where you'll need to show up in person to enter. Each winner can snag up to two tickets.

Don't bank on an easy win, though. On average, more than 10,000 people enter each lottery, according to the show's FAQ page.

The in-person lottery tends to draw large crowds, too, said New Yorker Mark Levy, who chronicles his attempts – 31 and counting – on the Facebook page "Will Mark Levy ever See Hamilton?" (Levy, who saw the show with a standing-room ticket in January, also enters the digital lottery most days in his bid to score a seat.)

At Levy's latest lottery visit in late April, there were roughly 1,500 people; over the holidays, he saw crowds surpassing 3,000. On one of the "best" nights, he said, "there were only — I can't believe I'm saying 'only' — about 200 people."

Shop the resale market – carefully

Although there are dozens of tickets available on the secondary market for any given day, prices can seem like a choice between bad and worse. But there are a few factors to be mindful of — namely, timing.

"Each day is its own market," SeatGeek.com's Leyden said.

Friday and Saturday shows tend to be priciest, with average prices in the mid to high $700 range, he said. Sundays are cheapest at an average $591 (not surprising, since that's Miranda's day off), with Wednesdays a close second at an average $635.

Timing your purchase might help, too.

"Looking at 'Hamilton' prices, the highest they are is about three and 25 days out from the show," Leyden said. "Either buy a month out, or try and wait until the last minute."

Hours before the April 28 show, prices for several orchestra seats listed through TicketMaster fell by more than $200 from earlier in the afternoon.

Hamilton's own site pushes theatergoers to search TicketMaster.com; compare against listings on big resellers like StubHub and aggregators like TiqIQ and SeatGeek. Factor in fees, too, which can add substantially to the final price. Just looking at seats in center orchestra Row O for the Tuesday, May 10 show, prices range from $1,254 to $3,650.

Before you buy, check to see what the selling site's policies are for problems including canceled shows and counterfeits, said Matcovich. (StubHub, for example, promises comparable replacements or a refund if tickets don't arrive on time or aren't valid.) "You should be buying from a reputable dealer," he said.

There have been several arrests of individuals for allegedly selling counterfeit "Hamilton" tickets. Miranda and producer Jeffrey Seller have also warned fans to be cautious about fakes.

Try for cancellation seats

Sold out isn't always sold out, if you're willing to get in line outside the box office on the day of the show. "Cancellations are a possibility," said Ken Davenport, a Tony award-winning Broadway producer, who has been behind hits including "Kinky Boots" and "Spring Awakening." "You never know."

It's common for the box office to hold seats for guests of the stars and in case of VIPs, he said, which would be released at the last minute if not needed. There may be standing-room tickets reserved for guests of the cast and crew, or unclaimed lottery seats.

But snagging a cancellation seat, though appealing, isn't that easy. In December, someone could get in line six to eight hours before curtain time and have a decent chance at a "Hamilton" cancellation ticket, said Robert Samuel, chief executive of line-waiting service Same Ole Line Dudes, which has had to introduce "Hamilton"-specific policies. Now, he said, lines start days in advance.

"People are in line for the Saturday matinee, and the matinee is at 2 o'clock … and they're in line at 2 o'clock [Thursday]," he said.

Tickets are scarce enough that Samuel only takes on one or two requests per show, with his staff typically in place 24 hours ahead of time. Clients pay the cost of the wait – $485 – plus $384 for two orchestra tickets, up front, and Samuel gets their parameters for what kind of tickets and prices they're willing to accept.

Samuel's line-sitters are successful 95 percent of the time, he said. "I make 'Hamilton' dreams come true," he said.

Buy in as a plus-one

When there's a Broadway show Richard Laermer, chief executive of RLM PR, wants to see, he heads to the theater shortly before curtain time in search of someone with a spare. There's always at least one ticketholder whose friend got sick or stood them up — yes, even for "Hamilton," said Laermer, who has scored face-value tickets on both of his attempts to see the show.

It's a legal purchase. New York law allows individuals to resell event tickets bought for personal use at or below face value, provided they make the sale at least 500 feet from the ticket office.

To ensure he isn't scammed, Laermer insists the seller walk with him to the box office to have the ticket checked before handing over cash. "Your job is to be eagle-eyed, find those people and be nice to them," he said. "They're already having a pretty bad day."

(This story has been updated to incorporate the new ticket prices for "Hamilton.")