If you’re hoping to somehow score tickets to the Broadway supermegahyperphenomenon Hamilton in the next few months, here’s some good news! Or maybe some bad news! Your chances just got much better or a whole lot worse. (NOTE: See important update at the end of this post.)
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Hamilton on Broadway
Ever since Hamilton moved to Broadway in July, Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop historical epic has offered 21 $10 front-row tickets for each performance to fans die-hard enough to wait outside the theater for a lottery drawing on the day of the show. As of today, however, that lottery has gone digital. The daily crowds outside the Richard Rodgers on 46th Street have become so large—there are usually hundreds of people, in lines that snake around the block—that they are disrupting traffic, and winter could only make that more problematic.
Producers say they plan to bring back the live lottery in the spring. Meanwhile, here’s a handy three-point guide to the digital lottery for Hamilton:
Step 1: Enter on time and pray to your god of choice. Go to the Hamilton lottery site on the day of the show, starting at 9:30am. There is a limit of one entry per person, and each entrant can request up to two tickets. Entries for matinee performances, on Wednesday and weekend afternoons, will be accepted until 11am; entries for evening performances, on Tuesdays through Saturdays, can be submitted until 3pm or 4pm. (The site has crashed a few times already from the sheer volume of interest, but it should stabilize soon.)
Step 2: Wait for the drawing and check your email obsessively. Drawings will take place at the 11am or 3pm/4pm cut-off times. If you win, you’ll be notified via email shortly thereafter.
Step 3a (*unlikely): Win the lottery, squeal with delight and then scramble. If you get the email notifying you that you've won, you’ll have just 60 minutes to claim and pay for your tickets with a credit card online. When you pick up your magic golden tickets at the box office that afternoon or evening, you must have a valid photo ID that matches the name drawn.
Step 3b (*overwhelmingly likely): Lose, curse your luck, try again the next day, keep trying every day for the foreseeable future. The great thing about the lottery going digital is that it effectively opens it up to a vast number of people who would not be able to wait for hours in front of the theater. But what this also means is that vastly more people will be competing for the same 21 seats, which makes your odds of actually winning them even steeper than they were before.
Is the Hamilton lottery’s temporary switch to digital a good or bad thing for democracy on Broadway? It’s complicated. On one hand, it's bad news for the students, artists and other largely unmoneyed would-be Hamilton spectators who have made up a sizable chunk of the live lottery crowds until now, and who can’t afford to see the show otherwise. On the other hand, many other people whose jobs prevent them from lining up in person also can’t afford to see Hamilton otherwise, and now they have a chance at the lottery, too. On a third hand, some people who could afford to see Hamilton on their own will now be in the mix as well. Now that the whole process is easier, the most devoted Hamilton wanna-sees—like a friend of mine who finally won the lottery on his 28th try—will have to compete with a lot of “why-not” applicants.
So the good news is that it’s a lot easier to participate in the Hamilton lottery, and the bad news is that it'll probably be in vain. But Hamilton is certainly worth trying for, and what have you got to lose? Take your shot! And then take another shot, and another, and then another bunch of shots. May the odds be ever in your favor.
UPDATE, 5pm: Hamilton has just announced via Twitter that its lottery site "fully crashed" on its first day because of huge traffic ("over 50k unique entries"). The site will be down tomorrow while they work to fix the problem, and the Hamilton lottery will be held live at the Richard Rodgers Theatre tomorrow after all, as before. Will the lottery site return later this week? Fifty thousand Hamilton wanna-sees nervously await the answer.
UPDATE, February 2: After several weeks of retooling, Hamilton is making a second go at a digital Hamilton lottery. The live lottery is set to return later in the spring. Good luck!