As they say in Hamilton, “What time is it? SHOW TIME.” Was it ever.
The law of supply and demand unfortunately applies to Hamilton, which won 11 Tony Awards this year out of 16 nominations. How is it possible that audiences are willing to pay sky high ticket prices over thousands of dollars and can afford to watch it multiple times? I paid much much more for 2 tickets in the Rear Mezzanine for Hamilton than I did for 4 prime Orchestra tickets when the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, School of Rock, opened. OUCH for the splurge. Was it worth it, my wallet says no, but my culture-seeking soul and curious mind say an emphatic yes… but I still feel guilty for spending the money.
The original and groundbreaking concept started in 2008 when the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation and decided to do some light reading of the 800-page Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow. After turning the pages of two chapters, Miranda immediately related Hamilton’s immigrant struggle to those of hip hop artists. Hamilton literally wrote his way out of St. Croix in the British West Indies, similar to hip hop artists leaving their hoods. Chernow met Miranda through a mutual friend in 2008 when he watched Miranda’s Tony-award winning musical, In the Heights (2008 – 2011). Ron Chernow, a Historical Consultant for Hamilton, described when he first heard the opening song, “I think it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard… He had packed the first 40 pages of my book into this 4.5 minute song and had done so accurately.” High praise from the Pulitzer-prize winning author.
Miranda courageously debuted the song, Alexander Hamilton, to the public, which was the start of a Hamilton Mix Tape he wanted to create, at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in May 2009. He was expected to perform something from In the Heights. As you watch the video that went viral, you realize how Miranda heightened the audience’s curiosity of wanting more, instantaneously making believers out of cynics.
It took two years for Miranda to write Alexander Hamilton and his second song, My Shot. The songs grew into a larger production than he imagined as he once again collaborated with his own cabinet members from In the Heights: Thomas Kail (Director), Alex Lacamoire (Musical Director), and Andy Blankenbuehler (Choreographer).
Fast forward to the Public Theater previews of Hamilton in January 2015, then officially opening in August 2015 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, where In the Heights also played.
A POWERFUL BOOM – a cultural phenomenon is born where young children to elder theater-goers alike are grooving to songs about one of the Founding Fathers of America, Alexander Hamilton. Who knew? Everybody is trying to get a ticket and willing to pay a premium price to the hottest show on Broadway, including me. I did not want to miss out on the hip hop world that Lin-Manuel Miranda envisioned of performers from diverse ethnic backgrounds portraying the Founding Fathers. One of my favorite lines is, “Immigrants, we get the job done.” As an immigrant myself, I can relate. There is an innate drive and hunger that makes you work in a frenetic pace as if “you’re running out of time” to succeed and make meaningful contributions that affect change. When will it stop? Never. It’s who you are.
I’m in a dream state as Aaron Burr starts the musical off with the now famous rhymes…
“How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman,
dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean
by providence, impoverished, in squalor
grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”
My enthusiastic reaction to the Broadway musical in one sentence:
The most spectacular vernacular and history lesson with swagger.
Most Broadway shows and musicals drag on and on, but this one kept you grooving in your seat for almost 3 hours. If I was allowed to stand and dance, I would have. Hamilton should be performed in a concert setting so people can dance along.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sir
Thank you for being a visionary
Teaching us American History
As it has never been taught before
For making us curious to learn so much more
History has its eyes on you, Sir
Waiting for your next brilliant project to cause a stir…