"People were here at like 4:45," said Andy Jones, caller of winners' names and general manager for Baseline Theatrical, the management company that represents Hamilton. "We actually got through everybody, but the line was around the block at one point. Everybody who was here by six o'clock got to enter, and we drew a couple minutes after six."
Barricades separated passing cars from the hundreds of people who lined 46th Street and waited anxiously outside of the Richard Rodgers Theatre for the chance to win $10 front-row seats to the show's first Broadway performance.
Before the drawing, Miranda addressed the crowd, saying, "Thanks to you, we're probably going to be here a while, so don't be disappointed if you don't win today. I love you very much. Yay, Hamlet! Thank you!" (The Hamlet reference stems from an encounter in February with a woman on 181st Street, who rolled down her car window and said to Miranda, "Congrats on Hamlet!... Yay Hamlet!" before driving away.)
Watch it below:
— Rachel Glick (@glicketysplat) July 13, 2015
Jones added, "It's great to see this many people, which was — I was the company manager on Rent Broadway, and this was as many people that was at the final performance of Rent."
According to the New York Times, the musical has already brought in $27.6 million, with just over 200,000 tickets sold in advance — among the biggest pre-opening totals in history.
Although a definite number cannot be determined for record-holder Rent's final lottery, Jones recalls that more than 1,000 people showed up (if memory serves him right, there were approximately 1,300 people outside the Nederlander Theatre Sept. 7, 2008, when Rent played its final show). Jones and the Hamilton team, however, only anticipated 300 to show up for last night's lotto — 704 exceeded their expectations.
Telly Leung, who was part of the final company of Rent, attended last night's performance of Hamilton (although he made sure to purchase his tickets months in advance, "the minute the transfer was announced," he said).
"I have no idea how many people were at the lotto at the final Rent," he said, "But, after the show Renée [Elise] Goldsberry and I were saying that crowd outside Hamilton was very reminiscent of that final night at the Nederlander." Goldsberry was Rent's final Mimi Marquez.
Not only did fans and avid theatregoers attend last night's lottery, but Broadway actors showed up, too, in hopes to snag a seat. Taylor Louderman, the star of the 2012 show Bring It On: The Musical (which featured a score by Miranda, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green), was the final winner called for front-row seats.
"My parents were here," she said. "They are seeing the show tonight, so I got here right at 6, when they drew, and I was walking away — I was walking away! — and then I heard my name. My name never gets called! What's up with that? I'm really excited. Do you see this button? It says 'Fanilton.' We're [also] going to get a wristband, so that I have to be at the show."
Winners were given wristbands to ensure that they did not scalp their tickets.
"I'm singing at a concert at 54 Below tonight," said Louderman, who was one of the headlining singers at Broadway Loves Katy Perry, "so I'm going to sing first at the [7 PM] concert, come see the show — and then there's a second concert [at 9:30 PM] — and sing last. It's going to work out perfectly... I'm just going to run!"
Bring It On fans took photos with Louderman as she waited to purchase her tickets.
— Theatre Thoughts (@think_theatre) July 14, 2015
"Last night, I felt like I witnessed not just Broadway history, but a piece of American history," added Leung, who will star in this season's Allegiance. "I felt this way as an audience member, at 16 years old, watching the original cast of Rent. I felt that way when I got to be part of the final company of Rent on Broadway and participated in the final performance. I felt that way again last night, at the first preview of Hamilton. What the creatives have done with that show is a complete 'game changer' as far as our art form. They've redefined our conceptions of what is possible in our craft — just like Rent did in 1996. Hamilton also challenges an audience to expand their definition of what it means to be an 'American' by presenting one of the most ethnically diverse casts ever assembled. Allegiance does the same thing as far as challenging our present perception of what America looks like. It's truly an exciting time for Broadway — and for the American theatre."