“Hamilton” In Philly: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go
From parking and dining options to security, seat comfort (yes, seat comfort!) and ticket availability.
I had the pleasure of checking out Hamilton in Philly the other night. It was the second performance of the run, and I have to agree with Inquirer theater writer John Timpane, who declared the “stellar, Broadway-comparable performance” to be “worth the wait” in his review.
If you’re going to see Hamilton in Philly — or if you’re still undecided — there are some things you need to know.
Hamilton in Philly: The Ticket Situation
The show runs through November 17th, and there are still a decent number of tickets available via TeleCharge. Best availability starts at the end of September.
You’re looking at spending anywhere from $129.00 to $199.00 for most seats. There are some super-premium seats for $495. I just did a quick search for Friday night’s 8 p.m. show, and you could still get in, assuming that you are alone or that you and your date don’t mind sitting separately. For $495 (plus taxes and fees, of course), you can sit in the center orchestra section on Friday night, just a handful of rows from the stage.
There’s also the $10 Hamilton ticket lottery, which can give you access to $10 seats at each performance. If you’re damn lucky.
And then there are resellers such as StubHub. There are lots and lots of options there.
Hamilton in Philly: The Theater
Yes, Hamilton is an amazing production and one that shouldn’t be missed. But part of the draw for me was also visiting the Forrest Theatre. It’s an infrequently used space at 1114 Walnut Street. And it is gorgeous in that way that theaters built in the 1920s tend to be. Plus, the 1,851-seat theater recently underwent some restoration. Two words of advice: Look up. Well, if you’re not the type to get dizzy.
Hamilton in Philly: The Security Situation
If you’re bringing in a bag, they are going to search it. You will also be wanded by security. On the night I was there, I saw a sniffing security dog. I felt pretty good about all of that, but I will say that security only checked one compartment in my backpack. There are several. They should really tighten that up.
Hamilton in Philly: The Seating Situation
In a place like the Forrest Theatre, there’s really not a bad seat in the house, as they say.
I sat about ten rows from the highest row in the Forrest and was able to hear and see everything clearly. And some of the dance numbers, stagecraft, and other aspects of the production might best be experienced from a bit back. Sure, front row seats seem cool and you’ll definitely be up close and personal, but you can’t quite take it all in.
One really important thing to note about the seats at Hamilton in Philly: they are seriously tight, both in width and in the amount of space between you and the person in front of you. At least that was the case in the level where I was seated. I would liken it to flying on worst airline in the USA Spirit: I’m about six-feet tall and I was unable to sit with my knees straight out, because the seat in front of me was just too close.
If you are on the shall-we-say zaftig size of the spectrum, I’d seriously recommend that you talk to somebody at the Forrest about this before you buy tickets to Hamilton in Philly. At the very least, you need an aisle seat. This is a serious consideration for a show that you have to sit for three hours to witness.
Hamilton in Philly: The Concession Situation
There is no shortage of merch at Hamilton in Philly, including things like $20 posters and $40 t-shirts.
You can also get a drink at one of the well-stocked bars in the Forrest Theatre, and they have adult sippy cups if you want to bring a drink inside the theater itself.
And I love the folks walking around with candy and snacks, “cigarette-girl” style.
Hamilton in Philly: The Ushering Situation
I wouldn’t normally mention ushers when writing about a play, but the ushers I encountered at the Forrest were so, so nice and helpful, especially the main usher in our section, Bernadette, who gave us an extensive history of the Forrest, a talk about the recent renovations, and just generally got us even more hyped for the show than we already were. Every single staffer we dealt with at the Forrest was notably awesome.
Hamilton in Philly: The Bathroom Situation
Listen, this show is nearly three hours long, including a fifteen minute intermission. There are plenty of kids, plenty of older people, and plenty of folks who drank a few pints of beer before the show, all of whom might need to need to find a bathroom.
If you are sitting in the upper levels, note that the bathrooms are claustrophobically tiny, whereas the bathrooms on the lower levels are much larger. Somehow, the vast majority of the people there to see Hamilton in Philly the other night managed to do their business during the allotted intermission.
Hamilton in Philly: The Dining-and-Drinking Situation
Fortunately, my good friends over at Foobooz have compiled an exhaustive guide to the bars and restaurants near the Forrest Theatre that would be best to visit if you’re seeing Hamilton in Philly, whether you are with kids or a hot date. I went to Cheu, which is less than two blocks from the theater, and had some tasty drinks and snacks.
I absolutely insist that you check OpenTable and the other reservation sites to see what is available before you head to the neighborhood near the Forrest Theatre for a meal. Sure, you’re not competing with the prime time dining crowd, since you’ve got to make it to the theater for the show, but, then again, you’re suddenly competing with the 1,850 other people in the same boat as you, all of whom are looking for dinner before the show, or lunch in the case of those who have matinee tickets. Plan ahead.
Hamilton in Philly: The Parking Situation
Speaking of reservations and planning ahead, if you haven’t started using SpotHero (or similar apps) yet, you’re doing it wrong. Parking lots in Philly vary drastically in their pricing, so do some research and reserve a spot in advance.
Using SpotHero, I landed a $10 spot in a lot at Jefferson, just two blocks from the Forrest Theatre. The reservation was good from 5 p.m. until midnight. Plenty of time for dinner, the show and a nightcap. I could have easily spent close to three times that.
Uber or Lyft would have been another option for me, but I live a good 20 minutes from the Forrest Theatre, so a $10 spot was definitely cheaper than Uber to and from. And, sheesh, the Uber situation after the show seemed to be a real mess, and it was also funny to watch a dozen or so people trying to flag cabs, like it was 2010 or something.
If you’re parking close to the Forrest Theatre, do not — I repeat: do not — park in a valet garage unless you’re prepared to wait (and wait, and wait) behind all the other mooks who decided to valet to go see Hamilton in Philly.
Most importantly: Enjoy the show!