Just for a moment though, let's breathe and think it through. Perhaps you'll land a pair of the nearly quarter of a million seats to be had after all.
The Opera House seats 2,364 – approaching twice the capacity of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, where "Hamilton" is now running in New York. (In a sense, the 14-week D.C. stand will be like half a year on Broadway, just for us.) At eight shows a week, that's 18,912 seats.
For 14 weeks, that's 264,768 seats. Theoretically, half of Washington could see it.
It'll take time, of course. Beyoncé's "Lemonade" is going down in a gulp because everyone can have it right away, even without actually having it. "Hamilton" can't be gulped; you have to be in "the room where it happens," to quote a lyric sung by the would-be power player Aaron Burr.
Philosopher Walter Benjamin, wondering way back in 1936 what the dramatic rise of photo and film might do to culture and to audiences, explained all this in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." "Hamilton" has cachet because it cannot be reproduced. Its aura exists only within the space where it is being performed.
Right now, the only room where "Hamilton" is happening is the Richard Rodgers, eight times a week, for just over 1,300 people per show.
Gosh: It's just not democratic.
The worst part is that "Hamilton," opening at the KenCen's Opera House in June 2018, is still more than two years away. By the presidential inaugural in January, we won't even have been waiting that long for Donald Trump.
"Hamilton" is viral, yet you still can't catch it: The musical's first performances at the Public Theatre before the Broadway transfer were in January 2015, and it will be more than three years old when it hits the Kennedy Center. But guess what? "The Lion King" did not deign to arrive for its D.C. debut there until it was a grizzled 10. (The interval from 1998-2008 was perhaps less marked by cultural frenzy than this period seems to be.)
For more than half a century, performing arts subscribers have bought the best access to events, though that carrot is nowhere near the lure it used to be as audiences choose to go a la carte. The Kennedy Center's ticket plan is not the stickup that some fear; the center is strangely cagey about its numbers, but its theater subscription total does not approach even a 10th (and likely not a 20th) of the 250,000 or so tickets it will have to sell for "Hamilton." That won't change dramatically, even with a "Hamilton"-driven subscription upsurge.
The actual details of the "Hamilton" run here have yet to be worked out, so these are my own ballpark numbers. Plainly, though, lots of single tickets will be available. The first day they're on sale may be nuts for the box office. But most people will get in without having to shell out huge amounts for subscriptions that include, you know, more theater.
Also, the day will come when "Hamilton" is as common as one of its stylistic forebears, "Rent." The show's writer and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has rightly said that it's going to be wonderful for kids in school productions to inhabit the roles of America's forefathers in the modern mode that "Hamilton" has fashioned. Gradually, "Hamilton" will be the opposite of scarce. It might even still be fresh when you get into a room where it happens. To quote a lyric from the title character, just you wait.