For Ann Perrone of Drexel Hill, taking a shot at Hamilton tickets at the Forrest Theatre box office Tuesday morning started Monday afternoon.
Perrone, a retiree who serves as a scoutmaster for a Boy Scouts troop in Germantown, showed up at 5 p.m. Monday to line up for the official 7 a.m. Tuesday start time to obtain a colored wristband — the first step toward the golden ticket — but she didn’t yet see anyone in line. So she did what most Philadelphians would do: She went to a nearby bar.
“I hung out at Moriarty’s until about 1 [a.m.], when I started seeing people line up,” said Perrone, who had come with a backpack filled with food, water, and entertainment for the wait. “It’s an adventure. I’d get a second wristband if they’d let you, but they don’t let you.”
Perrone was part of a friendly box-office line that by early Tuesday morning numbered in the hundreds and ran past the front of the Forrest Theatre on Walnut Street, around the corner of 11th, and down to Locust.
Meanwhile, online, a frustrated electronic queue of tens of thousands cooled their jets in a “virtual waiting room,” hoping to redeem ticket-buying codes for actual tickets to the popular musical, which runs Aug. 27 to Nov. 17 in Philly. Ticket prices run $127 to $197 for regular seats, and $497 for premium seats.
“I won a raffle to be able to buy Hamilton tickets in Philly. Ticket sales opened at 9 this morning. I got into the ‘virtual waiting room’ to purchase them at 9:15,” one Twitter user wrote. “There are 25k people in front of me in line already… wat.”
“I logged in an hour early and I’m 21,775 in line?” another Hamilton ticket buyer asked on social media. “Why would @KimmelCenter allow the population of a small town the chance to buy tickets all at once?"
The Kimmel Center was unable to share details about ticket sales, but some ticket hopefuls who were waitlisted received a code to buy online tickets Tuesday afternoon.
Back at the Forrest Theatre, Perrone was one of the lucky ones. An announcement came by bullhorn at 8:30 a.m. that people in her wristband group would qualify to come back to buy tickets at 1 p.m.
Cheers went up as ticket time slots were announced, by which time the crowd on Walnut flooded into the road, taking up a lane of traffic. Security guards directed people back onto the sidewalk and across the street, while a police van waited in the distance with flashing lights, serving as a barrier to traffic.
“I just want this part to be over so I can find some place to have breakfast,” Perrone said. IHOP, another ticket buyer told her, was right around the corner.
James Snowden of Olney, also in line outside the theater,
had arrived at about 7 a.m., stood in line for half an hour for his wristband, then stood waiting for the bullhorn announcements in the alley between the Forrest and Moriarty’s, where some folks hunkered down with folding chairs and cigarettes.
“I thought it was going to be worse than it was,” Snowden said. “As long as I get to see it, that’s fine.”
West Philly’s Bryant Pepples, showed up around 6 a.m., for tickets to see what will be his first play, ever. A friend, Pepples says, persuaded him to head to the Forrest to try to nab four of the premium tickets.
“It hyped me up more," he said. "I said, ‘This s--- must be something.’ ”
While folks who waited in line seemed genial and appreciative of the process, many of those waiting to purchase tickets virtually checked in on social media to complain about long wait times, site errors, and other issues.
Some social-media users attempting to buy tickets got an error code on the Telecharge website indicating that the service was “having a problem with this feature of the site right now,” and asking them to “please try again.”
“Waited….waited…waited….more than an hour behind 17,000 others and just got into buy @HamiltonMusical tickets for #hamiltonphilly and this,” one user said of the error page. “I should’ve slept in…”
“Your system won’t let me buy anything @Telecharge,” another said after receiving an error. “Terrible experience for Hamilton Philly.”
Others said the service worked for them, and quickly.
“45 minutes later of staring at my phone barely touching it and success!” one Twitter user wrote.
Qualitatively, the online queue struck some as being less hardcore than waiting in line live on Walnut Street.
“Sitting in front of the computer this morning, waiting in an online queue to buy ‘Hamilton’ tickets for the Philadelphia stop on the tour,” one wrote. “It’s civilized, but it sorta lacks the physical/moral commitment of camping out all night on the sidewalk in front of the theater.”
Samantha Boychuck of Marlton can attest to that commitment. She took the train in from Jersey with her mother Tuesday morning to arrive at the Forrest Theatre around 7 a.m. The pair waited for about a half hour before getting their own wristbands, and returned in the afternoon to purchase four tickets each.
“They seemed impossible to get, but now that I have them, it’s surreal,” Boychuck said. “Like, what? I have Hamilton tickets?”