Fortunate charities still have 'Hamilton' tickets to sell
Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg officiated at the naming ceremonies for both of producer Jeffrey Seller's babies in New York. Seller, who's gone from Oak Park to a series of hit shows on Broadway, is reciprocating with a different name Tuesday night:
Officially, according to Broadway in Detroit, opening night for the ferociously anticipated Tony Award winner is Wednesday at the Fisher Theatre. But the first curtain rises Tuesday on what's being called "Premiere Night," with three nonprofits sharing the proceeds from a house that — as of Monday — wasn't quite packed.
"We're being very competitive with the price," Sleutelberg said. "We certainly don't want any empty seats ... They're not going to be worth anything on the 13th."
Three other evenings will have a significant charity presence before the six-week run of "Hamilton" ends April 21. At one of them, the top ticket package can be yours for $100,000.
But the only performance almost entirely given over to fundraising is Tuesday when Sleutelberg's former temple in Troy, a school in Oxford where he chairs the board, and his current temple in Traverse City will split the proceeds.
Congregation Shir Tikvah, where he is rabbi emeritus, will come away with more than half. Second billing goes to Upland Hills School, with the remainder bound for Congregation Beth Shalom, where Sleutelberg works quarter-time and commutes from Lake Orion.
All are selling tickets through shirtikvah.org/hamilton, where prices started months ago at $399 to $699. The remaining seats topped out Monday at $299, which was $129 above list price.
"The producers gave them a special price," said Scott Myers, corporate sales and marketing director for Broadway in Detroit. That meant the Shir Tikvah site could begin selling in October before public ticket prices were finalized.
Sleutelberg, 60, said his friendship with Seller dates to a family bat mitzvah nearly 30 years ago.
When Seller's "Rent" first came to Detroit in 1998, Shir Tikvah was "a small upstart congregation on the east side," as Sleutelberg put it, constructing its building on Northfield Parkway.
A similar arrangement to Tuesday's, but with Shir Tikvah the sole beneficiary, netted the synagogue a vital $200,000.
One buyer could spend half that much March 28 at the L!FE Leaders Gala, though no one has stepped up yet to write the check.
L!FE Leaders works toward career and leadership development with middle and high schoolers in Metro Detroit. Its founder and president is Detroiter-turned-New Yorker Amy Nederlander, a third-generation member of the Nederlander theatrical family.
Her group bought 600 of the approximately 2,000 seats at the Fisher, and added some impressive enhancements: valet parking, a dinner before the show curated by New York chef Marcus Samuelsson, a Champagne and dessert reception afterward, and a post-performance conversation with Seller and members of the cast.
Prices start at $1,250 for an orchestra seat and escalate to $100,000 for 50 seats and an assortment of year-long promotional opportunities.
"The message of the show," Nederlander said, "is so in line with what our mission is — to empower people to believe they have a voice, to help them find it, to establish goals and to help implement plans to achieve those goals."
Executive director Miriam Starkman of the third "Hamilton" beneficiary, Hillel of Metro Detroit, said the organization for Jewish college students still has a few of its April 4 tickets left at $400 apiece.
"About a year and a half ago, a colleague and I were dreaming about what would be a fundraising event people would actually want to show up to," Starkman said.
Offered 500 tickets, she pounced.
"I don't really know what the list price was," she admitted.
She knew the number on the ticket didn't matter, as long as the letters spelled "Hamilton."
March 12-April 21
Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit
Tickets: $186 and up
ticketmaster.com, (800) 653-8000
Tuesday tickets only: shirtikvah.org/hamilton (prices vary)