I recently went in search of tickets to the Greatest Show on Earth.
I’m embarrassed, in the face of what’s now a cultural tidal wave, to admit that I hadn’t heard of it until my eight-year-olds began lip-syncing one day. I went online to discover which wordsmith to thank for teaching them words like “bastard” and “whore” in four/four time.
Luckily, my kids croon the most licentious lyrics with big second-grade smiles that reveal they have absolutely no clue what they’re saying. Childhood innocence will survive another day, but perhaps only one: After all, how do I explain to them why Hamilton and his sister-in-law Angelica have so many love songs?
Despite all the cussing — and also despite its arguably apocryphal portrayals of what really happened during the birth of our nation — Hamilton has brought world history to American families’ dinner table chatter, much to the surprise of grade-school parents like myself who thought I wouldn’t need the word “bicameral” till my kids at least hit their tweens.
And so, although my kids’ questions sound less like “What are the pros and cons of taxation without representation?” and more like “Did Aaron Burr feel bad?” I nevertheless decided to make the most of this teaching moment.
We made a trip to the main branch of the Oakland Public Library and took out every oversized picture book on the Founding Fathers. And then, when tickets went on sale for Hamilton’s San Francisco run, which started in May at the Orpheum, I tried to get seats.
Considering that the choicest Hamilton tickets on Broadway are selling for multiple thousands of dollars, it wasn’t surprising that on the day San Francisco sales opened, the online waiting list was around the virtual block (yes, a waiting list online): sixty-thousand people tried and failed to get tickets for the members-only pre-sale.
Hamilton is bigger than Taylor Swift.
My best friend Rob, a teacher at the Oakland public schools, managed to snag four seats by using half a dozen devices and at least that many browser windows to get “in line online” simultaneously. (I knew Rob was smart from the moment I found out that he runs Linux on his home computers.)
Having been thwarted by traditional purchasing channels, my partner, Michele, and I started entering the online rush-ticket lottery every day.
Every single day.
For six weeks and counting.
They promise that if you tweet about the lottery, your chances get doubled, but I think it’s a lie: We never won.
However, that’s okay, because I need three tickets (for me and my two kids), yet a single rush-lottery-winner may only purchase two. My kids are too young to attend without an adult, so how would we determine who gets the seat?
I began having nightmarish visions of my children absconding to Weehawken to duel.
Finally, I found the answer: an acquaintance who, as an Orpheum season subscriber, gets to sift through Hamilton’s trashbag. Through her, I snagged three “partially-obstructed” seats — far-far-left orchestra — for the low… low-ish… well, not-really-low three-digit price per seat.
Yeah, that’s right: I purchased the privilege of partially-obstructed views for “only” hundreds of dollars.
If Tiffany & Co. had an outlet store, they would sell these Hamilton remainders. At least I could have brought them home in that lovely blue bag.
It’s okay. When you’ve got kids, you make unusual choices. My seat at the Orpheum will have a completely unobstructed view of my children’s faces. I’m not throwing away that shot.