As I am sure you know, the award-winning musical by Lin Manuel-Miranda, Hamilton, has been one of the most popular shows in the history of Broadway. The performance is almost always sold out at the box office and the only way to purchase a reasonably priced ticket is to do it months in advance. In fact, as of writing this article, the cheapest seats available at the primary market (the box office) is $199 all the way in the Rear Mezzanine. The massive popularity of the show combined with the fact that the Richard Rogers theatre (maximum occupancy: 1319 seats) is one of the smaller venues on Broadway makes it very difficult to buy good tickets.
(My personal advice, if you have already decided to shell out a few hundred dollars for a premium Broadway show, don’t get the “nosebleeds”. A few extra bucks can get you seats in the Orchestra or Front Mezzanine where the view is worth the extra cost.)
Ticket Brokers and Resellers
In order to understand how Hamilton last minute tickets work you need to understand the structure of the ticket market. The so-called primary market is the first point of sale of tickets. Generally this means buying tickets directly from the venue’s box office. There is also a very active secondary market. This is where you can re-sell the tickets that you purchased from the box office. The secondary market includes people who cannot make it to the show and professional ticket brokers.
The high demand for Hamilton tickets from the general public was quickly appreciated by the professional ticket brokers, who bought large quantities of Hamilton tickets ahead of time. This is the main reason why each performance is sold out daily at the box office. In fact, if you want to buy tickets for an upcoming show (within a few days) your only option is one of the reseller websites where brokers list their inventory such as Broadwaypass.com (lists primary tickets too), Stubhub, Seatgeek and others.
Buying tickets from the primary market is straight forward because prices rarely fluctuate over time — the same seat is unlikely to change prices. The secondary market on the other hand is subject to larger price swings. The same Hamilton tickets can change prices from $300 to $30 in a matter of hours.
Why Last Minute Ticket Offers Exist for Hamilton
You will not find last minute offers at the box office. Even if the Richard Rogers theater didn’t sell all of its seats (very unlikely in the case of Hamilton) they will not lower the prices of their unsold inventory due to the moral hazard — people will learn this and next time they will wait until the last moment to make their purchase.
But the secondary market is different. When you (the theater-goer) are buying ahead of time from resellers, you can expect to pay a significant markup. Ticket brokers will often markup their tickets by at least 50% (On top of that websites charge additional service fees of additional 10–30%).
The brokers take on the risk of not finding a buyer for their tickets in exchange for the large markups. Most of the times, the brokers are astute market participants and they are able to price their tickets adequately so that they minimize their unsold inventory (since Broadway theaters don’t issue refunds, if a ticket is not sold before the start of the show it is completely lost). But brokers are not always able to accurately forecast demand from the general theater-going public.
In cases where tickets are not selling as expected, ticket resellers have a strong incentive to lower their prices — sometimes below the price they paid for the tickets initially in order to minimize their losses. Imagine if you are stuck with 10 orchestra seats you purchased for $250 each. You were hoping to net a handsome profit by selling them at $350. However, there are now 2 hours left until the start of the show and you only sold 2 of them. You are suddenly willing to let the remaining 8 tickets go for $100 (or even lower) so you could at least recoup some of your initial investment.
Of course, the opposite can also happen. Prices can go up. Brokers might see that the demand is stronger than usual and they might increase their prices as their tickets are getting sold faster than expected. So waiting for a last minute deal for a show like Hamilton is not guaranteed to pay off.
How to buy last minute tickets
By definition, you can buy “last minute tickets” for Hamilton …. in the last minute. This usually means 2 hours or less before the opening curtain. But the best deals usually happen 30 minutes or less prior to the start of the show.
One of the best ways to take advantage of this is to stop the Broadwaypass Last Minute Ticket Booth located in Times Square (1578 Broadway, between 47th and 48th street). One of the ticket specialists there will inform you about the ticket availability and prices for Hamilton as well as all other shows.
If you prefer to do this online, you can sign up for last minute alerts for Hamilton at this link.
If you sign up online, be ready to act fast and check your email frequently as we get closer to the show. These offers don’t usually last long and when you receive a notification you should buy it quickly before someone else beats you to it.
Waiting for a last minute ticket deals for Hamilton is not guaranteed to succeed but it can be a great way to save a lot of money and score some great seats for one of the most sought-after Broadway show of all times. Start looking for deals no earlier than 2 hours before the opening curtain, but for the best deals you should wait around 30 minutes before the start of the show. The best way to buy Hamilton last minute tickets is either online through this link, or in person at the last minute ticket booth located in Times Square (1578 Broadway, between 47th and 48th street).