The Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore had a line of people forming to buy, "Hamilton" tickets, as the play opens on June 25th and runs through July 21st. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun video)
On Thursday morning, with barely 30 minutes to go until the box office opened at 11 a.m., several dozen people eagerly waited outside the Hippodrome Theatre.
One group of fans drove over three hours from near Scranton, Pennsylvania on Wednesday and slept overnight in their lawn chairs. Some parents sat with their children, keeping comfy with L.L. Bean blankets draped across their laps. Most repeatedly refreshed their phone screens, where they followed the Ticketmaster pre-sale that started at 10 a.m., and hoped to leave the physical line despite the thousand-plus fans ahead of them online.
All of them sought the same thing: tickets to “Hamilton,” the Broadway sensation whose North American tour comes to the Hippodrome between June 25 and July 21. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop-inflected chronicle of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s brief and tumultuous life remains the biggest musical in America nearly four years after its Broadway premiere. That popularity spilled beyond New York and into cities like Baltimore, where it’s already surpassed ticket sale expectations. Hippodrome president and CEO Ron Legler could not provide digital sale figures on Thursday, when he stood outside with about a dozen Hippodrome staffers and volunteers to count down the minutes until the box office opened.
He did say, however, that the online sales had already surpassed those of any one-week production (“Hamilton” plays for nearly four) at the theater. He attributes that in part to the musical’s connection to America’s early history, when Baltimore was one of the young country’s principal cities, and crossover appeal with youth.
“Before kids even get to see it, they’ve already downloaded the music and know every part about it,” he said. “It’s waking something up in America.”
Most people who spoke to The Baltimore Sun said that they first connected with “Hamilton” through its music. Baltimore City resident Nicole Freeman, who sat beside her 14-year-old daughter Daryl, said that the score inspired family sing-a-longs and bonding across generational lines.They came Wednesday night and sat for two hours before leaving. When they returned, their spot was still available.
“We love history, and this is an entertaining way to learn about history,” she said. “It’s a common thread [in our family] that each of us individually took an interest in, and when we get together, we’ve enjoyed it [even more].”
Brooke Johnson similarly bonded with her daughter over the musical. She and her husband traded shifts Thursday morning to get the tickets as part of a surprise for her daughter’s 12th birthday. She additionally enlisted several ushers to wish her a happy birthday. Her daughter’s fandom compelled Johnson, herself a writer and actress who used to live in Manhattan, to seek out the tickets.
“She got really interested in the music, let alone the history lesson, and my husband and I are always trying to teach things, so how much easier is it if someone makes a freakin’ hip-hop musical?” she said. “You’re doing our job for us!”
Christopher Cook came from Carbondale, Pennsylvania with the overnight crew. Despite being closer to New York, they came to Baltimore to get a shot that they couldn’t get in the musical’s hometown.
“Right here, you got space [to wait],” he said. He didn’t even know the others in the Pennsylvania group before connecting with them online, but wanted the tickets enough to travel and spend the night outside alongside strangers.