New York City has caught “Hamilton” fever and local businesses are reaping the benefits.
“Hamilton” superfans and New Yorkers who don’t have the wherewithal to shell out a record-setting $849 for a premium ticket — even if they did, tickets are sold out for the rest of the year — are looking to get their “Hamilton” fix elsewhere in the city.
From SoulCycle rides featuring the addictive soundtrack to Alexander Hamilton-focused tours around the city, the Broadway hit’s already massive fan base continues to grow as it prepares to vie for 16 Tony Awards on Sunday.
“It’s a good thing to see more people interested in what used to be an almost unknown founding father, to now one of the most popular,” says Vladimir Merzlyakov, the lead park ranger at Hamilton Grange National Memorial in St. Nicholas Park, which provides free admission to view Alexander Hamilton’s relocated home. “It’s a totally different way of showing American history that’s never been done before.”
The National Park Service site has seen a 600% increase in attendance since last year, according to Merzlyakov. The memorial once saw 300 to 400 visitors a month and now that number is in the thousands.
“We get some people who have never really been into American history until after seeing the musical, which is what actually inspired them to come here,” Merzlyakov says.
The Hamilton Grange sells copies of the “Hamilton” cast album; the book “Hamilton: The Revolution” by the musical’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda sold out at the memorial immediately after its release in April.
Similarly, at Broadway Bodies, a dance studio located in Chelsea that offers dance cardio workouts to show tunes, “Hamilton” dance classes consistently sell out within a week of opening registration, says Alistair Williams, the studio’s executive director. The studio has been offering “Hamilton” classes since the fall of 2015.
“(The classes) are a great way to experience the fandom of ‘Hamilton,’” says Lauren Lowman, 27, a marketing manager in Murray Hill who started attending classes at Broadway Bodies because of the musical. “It’s a really cool way to enjoy the best parts of the show without going to it.”
To celebrate Tony season, Broadway Bodies is hosting a series of eight dance classes in July that bring the theatricality of “Hamilton” to life for students, complete with smoke machines, stage lighting and custom dance choreography. Class registration opens on June 15 “so people can mark their territory early, because they don’t want to lose their spot,” Williams says.
Other city businesses and historical sites are also hoping to cater special events toward “Hamilton” fans.
From 2 to 5 p.m. this Friday, June 10, Trinity Church on Wall Street is opening a pop-up exhibit of artifacts from the life of Hamilton that were recently “discovered” in the church’s archives, says Anne Petrimoulx, an archivist at Trinity Church.
Petrimoulx says the church’s yard in lower Manhattan, where Hamilton is buried, sees a steady stream of visitors on most nice days.
“We’re getting more questions about the supporting characters in ‘Hamilton’ who are also connected to Trinity as well,” says Petrimoulx. One example is Hercules Mulligan, a revolutionary spy played by Broadway star and New Jersey native Okieriete Onaodowan in “Hamilton.” Mulligan was also a vestryman at Trinity Church.
“I always thought (Mulligan) was a great character in Trinity’s history, but I never had a question about him before the musical,” Petrimoulx says.
Indeed, the history of the American Revolution has piqued the interest of many “Hamilton” devotees of all ages. Kids who have seen the musical are hosting their birthday parties at Fraunces Tavern Museum, where Hamilton visited in 1804.
Shauna Brandman, 17, who recently graduated from Brooklyn Poly Prep Country Day School, says “Hamilton” songs like “The Election of 1800” have influenced many of her friends to pay more attention to U.S. governmental affairs.
And before the musical came out in 2015, all Dara Osur, 39, knew about Alexander Hamilton was that he’s on the $10 bill. Now, she’s planning to download “Hamilton: The Revolution” for summer reading.
Osur says she bought two tickets for around $500 each in November 2015 to see the show for the first time next month. Even so, she says she would “drop everything” if she won the Hamilton lottery and got to see it after that.
“I would go every day if I wanted,” says Osur, a recruiting manager in Midtown East.
With the price of premium tickets soaring, more than 10,000 people enter the “Hamilton” lottery every day, according to the Broadway lottery website.
On the evening of June 7, Frances Hortin, 51, camped outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre on West 46th Street with her partner, Melanie Chatterton, 53, for the chance to win the highly coveted lottery tickets, which are only $10.
They were still waiting outside two days later, along with around 20 other hopefuls who also camped out.
“This is not a typical Broadway show,” says Hortin, in what seems to be an understatement.
Although it’s been nearly a year since the musical first debuted on Broadway, the lottery, Hamilton-themed tours, Etsy shops, tattoos and whatever else people come up with will continue to crop up, proving that “Hamilton” fans will, as a Schuyler sister sings on stage, “never be satisfied.”
(With Sheila Anne Feeney, Yeho Hwang and Robert Anthony)