‘Hamilton’ broke Van Wezel records during two-week Sarasota run

Over a two-week run in Sarasota, the hit musical “Hamilton” became the most successful show in the history of Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall based on sold-out performances, hall officials said.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton sold out all 16 performances during its March 25-April 7 run, narrowly topping the 99.61 percent seating capacity reached for the three-week run of Disney’s “The Lion King” in 2019.

“I’m thrilled with how successful “Hamilton” was this season,” Van Wezel Executive Director Mary Bensel said in a statement. “So much hard work and dedication went into bringing this show to Sarasota. I’m delighted with the positive response from all those who came to experience the movement with us.”

The cast performs a scene in "Hamilton" at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
The cast performs a scene in "Hamilton" at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

The multi-award-winning musical has been Broadway’s biggest hit since it opened in 2015, and the national tour came to Sarasota relatively quickly compared to other major productions, after two runs at Tampa’s Straz Center for the Performing Arts. It took 25 years before “The Lion King” tour was adapted to fit theaters the size of the Van Wezel.

The Van Wezel reported that 26,928 patrons saw “Hamilton” during the run. “The Lion King” had higher ticket sales because of the longer run and was seen by more than 37,000 theatergoers. At the time, the hall said “The Lion King” had an $11.4 million economic impact on the Sarasota area from travel, hotels, restaurants, parking and other businesses patronized by theatergoers and staff.

“Hamilton” came at a time when Bensel and the Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation have been making a push to build a new and bigger performing arts hall to accommodate larger, more elaborate productions. Bensel said producers of some shows like “Wicked” have told her they won’t schedule a tour stop in Sarasota unless there are a minimum of 2,000 seats. Van Wezel seats just under 1,800 people.

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The Foundation is leading efforts to build a hall that would have 2,250 seats in the main auditorium and is projected to cost up to $300 million. The City of Sarasota, which owns the Van Wezel and the land around it, will pay half the costs, and the Foundation has committed to raise the other 50 percent. The international architecture firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which has designed such buildings as the Whitney Museum in New York and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, has been selected to design the new center. The Foundation also recently hired Tania Castroverde Moskalenko as its new CEO. She started her job in February.

During the run of “Hamilton,” Bensel announced that the 2024-25 season would include another current Broadway hit, “Moulin Rouge,” along with “Beetlejuice,“ “Funny Girl,” a return visit from “Les Miserables” and other musicals.

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This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: ‘Hamilton’ named most successful show in Sarasota’s Van Wezel history