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90,000 people log on to buy San Francisco ‘Hamilton' tickets; most failed

Tens of thousands of people from all over the Bay Area - and as far away as the Central Valley - went online Monday morning in the hopes of scoring tickets to the San Francisco run of “Hamilton,” the smash hit Broadway musical that will run from March-August at the 2,200-seat SHN Orpheum Theatre.

But many fans who had queued up to take part in the American Express cardholder presale - one week before tickets are made available to the general public - were left disappointed when the sale appeared to shut down about 2 p.m.

Andi Wang, director of communications for SHN, said 90,000 people - about 10 percent of San Francisco's population - logged onto the website Monday trying to get tickets ranging in price from $197 to $524.

This year, “Hamilton” got a record 16 Tony nominations, winning 11, including Best Musical. It also won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama - all of which contributed to the feeding frenzy that was Monday morning's ticket sale.

Minutes after the online sale closed, ticket resale websites started advertising “Hamilton” tickets for well over $1,000, going as high as $2,500.

When asked how SHN would keep scalpers at bay, SHN's Wang said that no one has physical tickets right now, and “it is unlawful to sell tickets on speculation.”

Wang wouldn't say how many tickets were actually sold Monday, nor how many tickets would be available when general public tickets go on sale Dec. 12.

Many commenters on SHN's Facebook page were disappointed in how the sale was conducted, with everyone's queue number scrambled at 10 a.m. regardless of when they logged into the site.

And many more complained about placing tickets in their cart, only to have the website crash before they could pay.

“Your site crashed on me with 6 Row F seats in my shopping cart. Had to go to the end of the queue. Any recourse you can offer me? Serious frustrating,” wrote one woman.

Another commented below her, “Yep, me too, crashed with great seats in my cart. I never could finalize and use my nifty American Express card. Super sucks.”

Deanna Lancaster, another Facebook commenter, was prepared to drive her 12-year-old daughter the 4 1/2 hours from outside Fresno to San Francisco to see the performance. After spending hours online, she finally made it through the queue and placed tickets in her cart when the website appeared to stall out and she couldn't finalize the sale. She took photos of her screen, sent them to SHN and is hoping for the best.

“My daughter has never actually been to a Broadway show, so I thought this would be a really good and awesome one to take her to,” said Lancaster, who was prepared to spend about $400 for two tickets. “She has the soundtrack, she knows all the songs. ... I'm hoping it's going to work out.”

When the musical opens in San Francisco in March, it will kick off a national tour.

The next chance to purchase tickets will be Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. at hamilton.shnsf.com, by phone at 888-746-1799 or in person at SHN Orpheum Theatre Box Office, 1192 Market St., San Francisco.

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