'Hamilton' tickets come to Chicago. Is the musical's path unusual?

'Hamilton' is set to open in Chicago and London, and a national tour will launch this spring. What does the show's expansion mean for the theater business?

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) performs with other 'Hamilton' cast members at the 2016 Tony Awards.

Audiences now have the chance to snag tickets to the Chicago production of the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton” as the show prepares to branch out to locations such as London and the Windy City. 

Tickets for the Chicago production, where it is set to open in September, went on sale this week. “Hamilton” will also begin in San Francisco in March, and move across the pond to London in 2017. 

Is this plan unusual – and what does it mean for the theater business? 

The Broadway production of the show of course shows no sign of ending, but creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, as well as fellow stars Philippa Soo and Leslie Odom Jr., have announced they will be leaving next month. 

The normal pattern for a successful musical or play is for it to open on Broadway (sometimes preceded by an off-Broadway run, as happened with “Hamilton”), then head out on tour or to other cities such as London. 

Bernard Telsey, who is the casting director for “Hamilton,” told Entertainment Weekly that this plan very much has precedent. If a show is massively successful, sometimes those behind it just try to get the production to as many audiences as possible. 

“We did that on ‘Rent,’ and the same with ‘Wicked,’” Telsey said. “‘Rent’ was successful like that, where they had that many productions right away. ‘Wicked’ had two tours simultaneously on top of Broadway.”

Variety writer Gordon Cox points out that other touring Broadway shows can even be helped by one smash touring show like “Hamilton.” “Ticketbuyers pony up for an entire season of programming in order to guarantee tickets to one hot show – and with 'Hamilton' on the docket, the increase has already been huge,” Mr. Cox writes.

Greg Holland, CEO of the theater presenter SHN, which is based in San Francisco (where the tour of "Hamilton" will begin this spring), told Variety that he believes the amount of members will be double that of last year.

“We’re reaching a much younger ticketbuyer — ticketbuyers in their 20s and early 30s, who don’t usually buy subscription memberships,” Mr. Holland said. 

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