‘Hamilton’ Is Broadway’s Most Expensive Show—Ever
Not only has it saved Alexander Hamilton from obscurity, it’s sold out until January 2017 and tickets are over $1,000, far and away the highest prices in Broadway history.
At that price, the show stands alone as the most expensive show in Broadway history. The next most expensive play on Broadway over the last five years is The Book of Mormon, which had an average secondary-market price of $469 in its first year. By breaching the $1,000 mark, Hamilton changed the scale and is now completely sold out via the box office until January 2017.
From the start of its off-Broadway run at the Public Theater in February 2015, Hamilton was the hottest ticket in town. At the Public, tickets averaged $200 on the secondary market, which is unheard of for that venue. In its first month on Broadway, August 2015, Hamilton tickets spiked to average of $409, with cheapest tickets going for $150.
By October, Hamilton tickets on the secondary market breached $1,000, and they’ve yet to come back down. The huge bump in ticket prices during the fall of 2015 can be largely attributed to Hamilton’s cast album, which made its debut in September at the No. 12 spot on the Billboard charts. That was the highest debut of a cast recording since 1963, and in November, Hamilton became the first musical to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s rap chart.
In February, Hamilton also scored what may have been the biggest boost when the cast recording won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, and the original cast performed live at the award show in front of 25 million people.
That upward trend is likely to continue after Tuesday’s Tony nominations. It’s possible that the show will surpass The Producers and Billy Elliott for the most Tony nominations in history, at 15.
Hamilton isn’t the first Broadway show to gain mainstream recognition at such a high level. In addition to The Producers, more recent shows like Kinky Boots and Book of Mormon have seen huge demand on the ticket market. In its first year, tickets to see Kinky Boots averaged $458 on the secondary market, and by year three had fallen to $265, a 42 percent decrease. Book of Mormon had a similar year one average price, with tickets at $469. By its second year, the average listing price had dropped to $380, then to $347 by March 2014.
If post-Miranda Hamilton follows those trends, resale tickets wouldn’t reach a $500 average price until 2021. That, however, would be another election year, and perhaps good timing for Miranda to revisit the original role for what could a few very expensive months on Broadway.
Whatever the average ticket price for Hamilton tickets is at the close of the Trump or Clinton administration, Hamilton is a decacorn in a world of mere unicorns when it comes to theater success. While a handful of shows sell out each night on the Great White Way, the majority don’t come anywhere close.
Last week, in fact, Hamilton was the lone show on Broadway to realize more than 100 percent of what BroadwayWorld.com calls “Gross Potential.” Unlike the rest of Broadway, Hamilton filled all of its potential seats, and then some, hitting 135 percent last week. There has not been a week that Richard Rodgers Theater has been filled less than 120 percent.
Soon, Hamilton will be traveling across the country, with the first confirmed stop in Chicago in September. A traveling edition of the show will mean millions more for Miranda. For Hamilton, it will mean the realization a pop culture status reserved for only the most sacred of our Founding Fathers.
If not for the meteoric rise of the current Broadway megahit, Alexander Hamilton might have been on the fast track to cultural obscurity.
But with the recent announcement that the Founding Father would not be removed from the $10 bill, it seems his place in cultural history is secure. Instead, the slave-owning Andrew Jackson will be replaced on the $20 bill by Harriet Tubman, a former slave and symbol of freedom.
In an age so defined by money and finance, Hamilton’s removal would have been a real loss. While Lin-Manuel Miranda could not have become Hamilton if not for Ron Chernow’s bestselling 2004 biography, without Miranda, Hamilton would likely not have held the $10 bill. Tuesday’s Tony nominations will be a further reminder of why.