The theatre director at Eaglecrest High School in Centennial has set up an online auction to sell her two tickets to "Hamilton." Proceeds will go toward supporting the high school's next musical production in March.

Tickets to the Broadway musical "Hamilton" are a hot item in Colorado right now, so one teacher is capitalizing on the craze -- and using it to her students' benefit. Stephanie Swenson, a theatre teacher and director at Eaglecrest High School, has set up an online auction for her two "Hamilton" tickets through BiddingOwl, to raise money for the school's theatre department and upcoming productions. The auction, which had a starting bid reflecting the tickets' retail value of $218.50, is live now and will end at 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 1. The tickets are for Saturday, March 17, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., at the Buell Theatre, in Denver. The seats are located in the Center Rear Orchestra section, row WW. As a subscriber to the Denver Center for Performing Arts, Swenson had access to the show's pre-sale on January 18, several days before tickets went on sale to the general public. But since she was going to be busy teaching when the pre-sale started, she put her husband in charge of the purchase, and he successfully snagged two tickets.
"When I found out that 'Hamilton' was coming to Denver and then heard that subscribers would get the first set of tickets, it was obvious what I had to do with them," explained Swenson, who's been teaching at Eaglecrest for three years. "Honestly, it is a constant struggle to find enough funds to produce shows and maintain our equipment in the theatre. There are times where we are legitimately struggling to pay for the most basic things."
Funds from the auction will go toward the high school's production of "The Pirates of Penzanze," March 8–10, which requires the set crew to build a 30-foot-long pirate ship. They will also need to pay for period costumes, which can end up being quite costly. "If we happen to have any extra funds, it will roll in to other needs we have around the theatre, like improving our sound and lighting systems," Swenson said. In general, the Eaglecrest theatre department is a happening place, having produced "The Curious Savage"(directed by Eaglecrest teacher Lindsey Pesek) and "Waiting for Gadot" last fall, with upcoming productions of "The Pirates of Penzance" and "Hamlet" this spring. [gallery type="rectangular" size="medium" ids="32498,32493,32497"] In addition to the goal of raising money, however, Eaglecrest students hope that the auction garners some good publicity for the department as well. "It gets our name out to a whole new group of people we hadn't been able to reach before," high school senior Riley Cox said. "It draws on a crowd outside of our typical community, which is great for our department's future."
"I think it's incredible because those tickets aren't cheap," said senior David Klein. "It just really shows how much someone can care about a program." And not just how much the winner of the auction cares about the theatre program ... The fact that the auction exists shows just how much the teacher cares about her program -- and her students, too. To Swenson, theatre is so much more than meets the eye.
"I often tell people that I believe I teach my students empathy before all else," Swenson said. "To be a powerful actor, one must have an incredible capacity for empathy. High school students sometimes have to be taught what this really means, but once it starts to grow inside of them, it is a beautiful thing. It enriches every experience they have in life. They become better friends, leaders, and human beings."
Having seen the original "Hamilton" production in New York, Swenson is a big fan. In fact, it's her favorite Broadway musical, and she considers it one of the top theatre experiences of her life.
"The show is incredible, but the impact it has made on the culture is even greater. I love that it is a show that helps many who may not have had an interest in theatre become avid fans." [caption id="attachment_32499" align="aligncenter" width="400"]auctioning Stephanie Swenson, who the Eaglecrest students call "Safety Swenson"[/caption] As the online bidding (hopefully) climbs over the next week, Swenson and the students have set no expectations. But with a seemingly endless list of needs, they're only hoping that the creative fundraising effort makes a significant impact on Eaglecrest's theatre department. For more information on Eaglecrest's upcoming productions (which are always open to the community!), check out their department website here. Eaglecrest High School, which is part of the Cherry Creek School District, is located at 5100 S. Picadilly Street, in Centennial. To make a bid on the "Hamilton" tickets, visit the auction's page on the BiddingOwl website! What do you think? Isn't it great that we have such wonderful, creative teachers in Colorado? We applaud the way Swenson is thinking outside the box and putting her tickets to good use! Tell us what you think in the comments below!

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