I was sitting on an airplane next to my 30 year old son, Levi, last summer, when he handed me one of his earbuds and said, “Check this out.” We were on our way to Shanghai for our first adventure together and he watched me intently with a huge smile as he waited for my response. I could tell his level of excitement was off the charts. As we listened to the Hamilton soundtrack together, I could see the cool, young man inside of him absolutely eating up the rap style, hip-hoppy music while the nerdy history side of him devoured the witty way the story was being told. He’d pause it periodically and say something like, “Did you hear that? Did you hear they way he said ‘I’m just like my country, I’m young scrappy and hungry’? He’s just brilliant, isn’t he?” Then he proceeded to tell me everything he knew about Lin-Manuel Miranda, someone I knew very little of. Needless to say, I was also instantly hooked.
I am a bit of a show enthusiast, so once I had confirmed dates for a visit to San Francisco, I began looking at tickets for my six day stay in the city. To be honest, I didn’t even know that Hamilton was opening at the Orpheum until I began my research. Hamilton was scheduled to begin two days after my arrival and run for three months. That meant, or so I thought, that I would have several opportunities to see the show. Unfortunately, but not unbelievably, the show had sold all the tickets for it’s three month run in less than a day, mere hours actually. So, I began to search for alternate methods of obtaining a ticket. The first thing I did was send a few emails to friends who live in the area to see if they had any contacts, but no luck. Two of them actually laughed at me a little. This made me even more determined in my efforts.
Next, I decided to contact the manager at the hotel where I was staying, as they sometimes have some pull or a good contact to find reserve tickets. His assistant advised me with a slight tone of annoyance that there was literally no possible way to get tickets. Then she added that it was virtually “impossible” for anyone, even those living in the Bay Area to get them, but she gave me the information for a ticket booth to try anyhow. To be honest, getting up at the crack of dawn to stand in line at a ticket booth really isn’t my thing, so I tried calling them instead. As you would expect, it took forever to get through and once I finally did, I was told that there were absolutely no tickets available while I was going to be in town. While it wasn’t actually stated, there was again a definite ring of, “It’s impossible” to the conversation.
Honestly, this combined with the response of my friends snickering is what made me fiercely determined to get them at this point. There is something about the word “impossible” that makes me have the same response every single time, and it goes something like this, “Oh yeah? Just watch me then” and there’s a sly little chuckle that usually comes along as well.
So, I began to search online. I looked at Craigslist but felt so unsure, especially of the inflated prices that people were asking for and knowing of all the scam stories. Eventually, I found something called StubHub. Now, I had never used this service before, or even heard of it to be honest, but after reading several reviews and their business description I decided to call them. I was on the phone for quite some time with a polite and well spoken young woman named Dana. She confirmed all the information that I had read online, (almost verbatim), which is that StubHub is owned by eBay and just like eBay, they are a service for people to sell things, in this case purchased tickets, they cannot use. The good news is that they do have several things in place to try to ensure the viability of the tickets and avoid people getting scammed, one of which is called FanProtect. It’s a guarantee that basically states that if you purchase tickets and then have any problems (for example, the tickets are invalid), StubHub will do everything they can to get you into the event and if they can’t, they will give you a full refund. Will you being paying more than face value for the tickets this way? Yes, most likely. You will be paying whatever additional amount the seller may have marked them up (this just depends upon the demand for the particular tickets you want) and you will also be paying a service fee to StubHub.
My Hamilton ticket was about $100 over its face value, which made me pretty nervous to think I’d be paying that and there was a slim chance it would be invalid. Dana, however, gave me a direct phone number to call StubHub if I got to the theater and there were any problems, and this made me feel much more comfortable.
I guess now is the time to admit that I also had to change my scheduled return flight by one night to attend the show with this ticket, which also cost an additional fee. All in all, there was about $500 tied up in this venture and the thought of it not working out was frightening, but I was so excited to see the show and to defy the “impossible” that I just forged ahead anyhow.
I arrived a full hour early so I could have plenty of time for problem solving if the ticket turned out to be a counterfeit. As I walked up to the usher and she scanned my ticket, I held my breath until I heard the little beep of approval and then I let out an involuntary squeal of happiness. She looked up and said, “Yes, you’re going to see the show.” in a seriously patronizing tone and with a slight eye roll, but I didn’t care one little bit, it had worked, and I was seeing Hamilton!
The show was all that you’ve probably heard and more. I could honestly see it a limitless number of times and still be wholly entertained. The wit and preciseness of the lyrics alone are enough to keep me enthralled, but every single aspect of this show is awe inspiring. The set, the costumes, the choreography, the music, the casting, it all just works together perfectly to make for an absolutely phenomenal show. You know when you see that one show where inside the theater you can feel that every single other human, on stage and off, is feeling the same magic you are? And then that sets the standard… Well I hadn’t experienced that same feeling since seeing Rent on Broadway, but this surpassed my long standing favorite to sit solidly in first place. The three hours flew by and felt like only five minutes, and still, it was so worth every single penny spent.
Thanks to StubHub, I managed to defy the impossible, once again!
*StubHub is not paying me or compensating me in any way for this endorsement. I just wanted to share my experience so others could use their service to obtain “impossible” tickets too. 🙂