Hamilton is showing at the Hollywood Pantages through the end of the year, but I figured I had no chance of seeing it. Tickets to the whole run of the hit Broadway musical sold out as soon as they went on sale, and the only ways to get tickets are by paying a ticket reseller hundreds of dollars or by winning the ticket lottery. For each performance, 40 tickets are sold to winners of an online lottery for $10 each. You can enter through the official Hamilton App or at the Lucky Seat website, and if you win, you’re notified by 11 a.m. the day before the show. (Each winner can buy up to two tickets.)
My schedule is pretty flexible, so I’ve been entering the lottery almost every day since it launched. Every morning I’d get an email from the lottery folks, see that it started with the word “Unfortunately…” and sigh to myself. Then, on a recent Thursday morning at 10:05 a.m., my phone buzzed with a text from an unfamiliar number. I had won the lottery for Friday night! I immediately checked my email for the link to buy tickets, paid for them, and invited a friend to join me at the show.
Until I picked up our tickets, I wasn’t sure where we’d be sitting. The website mentions that some of the winning tickets will be in the first row, but the site cautions, “Your tickets may be partial view and, while every effort will be made to seat pairs together, there is a chance that pairs may be split up.”
When I got to the box office, they checked my photo ID and then handed me a ticket envelope. On the counter I saw a seat map of the theater, so I asked the ticket person to show me where we’d be sitting. She pointed at a row all the way on one side, and I thought, “Oh, we’re in the very back row. Well, that’s fine.” Then I realized I was looking at it wrong. We were in the front row, all the way to the left.
I know everyone raves about how amazing Hamilton is. All I can say about that: It’s all true. (There’s a reason the show won 11 Tony awards.) If you want to see it for yourself, and you can’t afford tickets, enter the lottery for every performance you can possibly make. The Pantages doesn’t release information about what your odds are of winning, but I’ve had a few people tell me, “My other friend won the ticket lottery, too.” It happens—especially for people who live in Los Angeles and enter on a regular basis.
A note for budget-conscious theatergoers like me: It costs $30 to park near the Pantages, or $20 to park a few blocks away on Selma, and it felt wrong to pay more for parking than I paid for my ticket. If possible, take public transportation or a ride-sharing service instead.