Hamilton – Musical Theatre Musings Is Here to Help.
I am lucky enough to both live in London and have seen Hamilton already. Hopefully therefore some of my local knowledge, combined with having seen the show may help some of the numerous Hamfans out there.
As we know tickets sold out sooooo quickly online but despite this getting tickets is not as impossible as it seems. There are currently 3 main ways in:
- The lottery. Hamilton has it’s own app (more on this later) and via the app or via the Hamilton website you are able to apply for 2 tickets at £10 each. If you are applying for tickets for shows on all days except Mondays you can apply for tickets from 4pm 2 days before the show and ending on 2pm on the day prior to the show. For Monday shows you can apply between 4pm on the Friday until 2pm on the Saturday. Winners will be notified at 3pm on the day before the show or for the Monday show, at 3pm on the Saturday before. You must claim your tickets by 6pm on that day. Only the person who won the lottery may claim and use the tickets.
- Due to Ticketmaster’s tight policy on needing ID and the original booking card Ticketmaster seems to have returns popping up. It may be a bit laborious and time consuming but if desperate to go it is worth regularly checking the website for returns.
- Late release premium tickets – a midday every Monday Premium tickets are released for the next week. These are obviously expensive seats but if you are desperate to go it may be a way in!
If you are unlucky and can no longer go Ticketmaster will buy tickets off you however there is a £3 admin fee. There is also mixed reports as to if they will buy back a single ticket or if it has to be the whole group but it is always worth calling to find out. If not there are numerous groups on Facebook which have members desperate to see the show and looking to buy tickets who may take a single ticket off your hands. Remember though that the cardholder who booked the tickets must always be present.
Eating Out Pre-Show:
There is literally something for everyone near the theatre. A couple of minutes walk from the theatre is Cardinal Place. In Cardinal Place there are favourites such as Nando’s, Bill’s (with a nice pre-theatre menu and an ample selection of cocktails), Browns (again a pre-theatre 2 course menu for £15), Wagamama’s and Zizzis (plenty of voucher codes normally available on apps such as Vouchercloud).
If burgers are your thing you have both Shake Shack and Bleecker Street literally opposite each other on Victoria Street. They are less than a 5 minute walk from the theatre. My preference would be Shake Shack as you don’t get a huge amount of burger for your money but Bleecker does rack up 4 stars on trip advisor!
Up on Wilton Road there is also my top tip if you want to avoid chains. Kazan Turkish restaurant is found at number 93-94 and the food is delicious. You are looking at around £15 – £25 per person depending on drinks and amount you want to eat but if you are making an occasion of your Hamilton trip then this is a good place to start. They also do a pre-theatre set menu for £15 so well worth checking out!
Pre or Post Drinks:
The aforementioned Browns is a lovely bar with a good selection of cocktails and is open until 12pm so a nice option for a night cap after the show. If you want to continue to keep it stagey ‘The Other Palace’ is about a 10 minute walk from the Victoria Palace Theatre through Cardinal Place and has a lovely bar dedicated to Gin….aptly named the Gin Palace. This is a good choice for pre-drinks as it closes at 11pm.
For the beer and ale lovers there is also Cask Bar and Kitchen which has around 400 drinks to choose from. It is around 7 minutes from the theatre on Charlewood Street. If going again pre-drinks are recommended as it closes at 11pm.
Clarendon Cocktail bar at 52 Cambridge Street is also a good choice for post drinks on a Friday or Saturday. It is open until midnight with an unusual cocktail list. However pre-show between 5-7pm Monday-Friday they do £5 cocktails and unlimited nibbles.
Getting to the Theatre:
The Victoria Palace Theatre is mega easy to get to via public transport. It is right next to Victoria overground station and even closer to the exit of Victoria underground station. Victoria underground is on the Victoria line and the District and Circle Line. For those arriving into London’s major overground stations the quickest routes are:
- Kings Cross St Pancras/ Euston – jump onto the Victoria Line Southbound for 6/5 stops.
- Charing Cross- it’s a 2 minute walk to Embankment where you can pick up a District or Circle tube Westtbound for a mere 3 stops. It may be worth noting that there is no disabled access at Embankment.
- Waterloo/Waterloo East – 1 stop Westbound on the jubilee line to Westminster and change to the District or Circle line for 2 stops Westbound to Victoria.
- London Bridge – 3 stops Westbound on the jubilee line to Westminstere and change to the District or Circle line for 2 stops Westbound.
- Liverpool Street – this is a nice straightforward journey. You can just jump on the circle line Westbound 11 stops (20 minutes). Be warned that the circle line can sometimes be sporadic in its arrival so leave some spare time.
Victoria coach station is also a 10 minute walk (less than half a mile) however if you have mobility problems there are number 44, C10, 11, 44, 170 or 211 buses who go from the Coach station to the main station (1 stop).
If you are planning on travelling around a fair bit using public transport I would recommend the app, City Mapper, which sets out routes including being clear when it may actually be quicker to walk!
Getting Into The Theatre/Collecting Tickets:
Victoria Palace theatre advises that doors open at 6pm and they recommend arriving by 6:30pm. I arrived at 5:50pm and there was only a small queue ahead of me. Doors opened at around 6:12pm but the queue moved very quickly in front of me. We were probably in by 6:20.
In order to get in you need Government ID, the email from Ticketmaster that you will get sent a few days before the show (showing it on our phone is fine if you can’t print it out) and the card you booked it on. If the card you booked it on has expired then phone Ticketmaster and they will transfer the tickets over to your new card. Upon arrival your card will be scanned and you will be given your tickets. You will not be let in unless you have all members of your group with you.
I was up in the grand circle where the rake is very steep! Whilst the view was superb for a grand circle seat I am quite tall (5ft 9) and there was no leg room at all!
My seats in particular were G9-10 and here is the view. You were able to see all of the stage clearly except for the top part of peoples heads when they were performing on the upper level on stage but this didn’t affect my enjoyment.
Further round to the sides of the Grand circle you loose a bit of the action at the extreme sides of the stage.
The boxes in the Grand circle do cut off a large amount of the side of the stage. For example those in box A of the Grand circle advise that you can hardly see King George in his second song.
Most people I have seen who have posted their views fro the royal circle have been very happy with the view with the main complaint being leg room.
The main criticism from those in the stalls is up until around row C you miss things taking place at the back of the stage but not much action takes place in this area in any event so not much should be missed.
In the back row of the stalls you also miss some of the stage right balcony.
Some people have also asked if they have booster seats for children – the answer is yes!!
Seatplan is normally a great website for seat views and reviews. At the moment most of the reviews relate to Billy Elliot but given time I’m sure it will be filled with Hamilton reviews. There is currently no way of distinguishing on Seatplan between Hamilton seats and Billy Elliot seats quickly and easily.
There have been reports on the merchandise queue being so big that some didn’t manage to get what they wanted. I was up in the grand circle and upon arrival at the Grand Salon at around 6:30pm (after a trip to the bar) where there is another merchandise stand there was virtually no queue. The same was applicable immediately after the show. Therefore if the queue is too big downstairs head up to the grand circle area and see if the queue is smaller.
The programme was £4 so very reasonable. The content of the programmes were good with a timeline to help contextualise the real life events, an article about the theatre refurb as well as a few rehearsal photos. The brochures are the American ones and £10. The merchandise itself ranged from £4 for an oyster card holder, £8 for a shot glass up to £45 (!) for a hoodie. Out of interest these are more expensive than they were the first couple of days of the Previews! The merchandise stalls all accept card as well as cash.
Recommendations I have seen regarding the clothing is to go one size up for the hoodies as they fit small but the t-shirts come up quite long so buy your normal size. The mixtape from the merchandise stand is £30 but you can buy them online for £10 and the books are also markedly cheaper online so it may be worth doing your homework first if you want a particular item.
Oh and ice creams were £3 and a wine and a cider came to £10.
You will not be allowed into the theatre to buy merchandise without a ticket and as yet they have no online store!
You can’t actually get to stagedoor currently as due to the ongoing building work it is barricaded off. As you leave the theatre turn right as the majority of the cast are coming out of a side road. Look out for a metal barrier and a wooden building site door with number pad for entry and security guard! It is reported to be rammed but the cast reportedly are generous with their time.
Even if not applying for the lottery the Hamilton app is a fun download. It has a filter feature similar to Snapchat called Hamcam which lets you become King George, appear on a 10 dollar note or become Eliza, Angelica or Peggy. It also brings you up to date news and links to their social media sites.
Other things to watch out for:
Hamilton’s running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes including a 15 minute interval.
Starting now and throughout 2018 Lin Manuel has promised a Hamlidrop on a monthly basis. The first is a song named ‘Ben Franklin’s Song which Lin originally wrote the lyrics for the show but didn’t use it as he couldn’t work it into the narrative. It is performed by the band the Decemberists and you can listen to it on Spotify and Apple Music. Just a warning however – it’s not one to listen to when there are children around.
I hope you have found this useful – any other questions please do shout!