Despite efforts by U.K. mega-producer Cameron Mackintosh to thwart scalpers (called “touts” in London) by using paperless tickets for the London production of Hamilton, tickets are being offered on resale websites for $6,000 (£4,788) or more.
Mackintosh’s anti-scalping measure, which require ticket buyers to use a bank card to buy electronic tickets, is designed to block the scalpers who buy up premium seats, then offer them for re-sale at massively inflated prices.
A visit to the Viagogo ticket reselling website shows that tickets for the first few weeks of the London run were being offered for $688.01 to $6,253, or about £550 to £5,000
The most expensive regular-priced premium ticket for the show is £200, but is not now available for more than a year. Regular-priced tickets are being sold at hamiltonthemusical.co.uk, delfontmackintosh.co.uk and ticketmaster.co.uk.
Tickets went on sale to the general public January 30. As of 2:30 PM ET (7:30 PM London time) January 31, the show was sold out for several months but there were still tickets available starting in April 2018. The production is posting occasional availability status reports on its Twitter page.
The question remains whether the people paying the scalpers’ fees will even get to see the show. The official Hamilton website itself is unequivocal about the practice: “Any Hamilton ticket offered for resale either on or offline (including on all secondary ticket retail websites) will result in the entire original booking being cancelled.” The site does not specify how the theatre will be able to detect the resale.
No physical tickets are being sent in advance. Those who order Hamilton tickets online will receive a simple email confirming the purchase. Then, on arrival at the theatre for the performance, buyers will be required to present their original payment card, their original booking confirmation, and government-issued photo ID. Their card will then be swiped to produce their tickets.
Hamilton is scheduled to begin previews November 21 and open December 7 at the Victoria Palace Theatre.
The ticketing experiment actually began January 16 when 110,000 people who pre-registered on a priority list were issued the electronic tickets. According to a report in the London newspaper The Guardian, tickets began appearing on secondary ticket websites for between £999 and £2,500 each within two hours of their going on sale January 16, despite the producer’s efforts to prevent such resales. The face value of the tickets is £37.50 to £127.50. It remains to be seen if the production will accept the resold electronic tickets when the holders arrive at the theatre. Ticket holders have to go to the theatre with a confirmation email, the credit card used for the booking, and photo ID.
Nick Allott, managing director of Cameron Mackintosh Limited, had explained that buyers wouldn’t get physical tickets until they arrive at the theatre.
“Once the seat has been purchased, people will get an email with instructions. They’ll know where they are sitting, and everything is confirmed,” Allott told the Daily Mail, saying that he expects the system will prevent half of ticket scalping.
But the Guardian quoted security consultant and ticketing expert Reg Walker, of Iridium Consultancy, explaining how the scalpers were getting around the security system. “It’s viable for a tout to buy four tickets, sell three of them, then go with you to the box office to pick them up using his credit card. He can then walk the ticket purchasers in and walk out again, or even watch the show himself.”
“At those prices it’s still worth it for them because they make enough on three of the tickets that they don’t mind losing the money they spent on the fourth,” he was reported saying.
The Lin-Manuel Miranda musical is scheduled to feature Giles Terera as Aaron Burr, Rachel Ann Go as Eliza Schuyler, Rachel John as Angelica, Obioma Ugoala as George Washington, Allado as Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds, and Jason Pennycooke as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. The actor playing the title role has not yet been announced.
In the U.S., Hamilton creator Miranda has publicly supported federal legislation to criminalize operators of computerized scalping programs called “ticket bots.”