“Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s highly anticipated musical that embraces hip-hop and rap to depict the history and climate of the nation’s founding fathers, opens a historic eight-week run tonight (Dec. 7) at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
The show — which has won 11 Tony Awards (including Best Musical), the Grammy Award for Best Musical, and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama –is the first Broadway musical ever to be booked for an extended run through Jan. 29. Most shows are in and out of town for two, maybe three weeks, so this is a biggie. Hope Hawaii supports this mammoth endeavor.
I have seen the show twice at New York’s Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway, once with the original cast that featured the beloved creator who did the book, music and lyrics.
I have fond memories of the first time, when Miranda was the lead. It was so difficult and expensive to secure tickets then, because of high demand and the frustration of elevated ticket prices. Long story short: I had to pay $750 per ticket ($1,500 for a pair) and the seats were in the second-to-the-last-row in the balcony, where you almost could touch the ceiling! But worth it, what with the anticipation and expectation of a high-profile show.
My second visit was in Chicago, when local boy Joseph Morales was portraying the Sunday matinees at the Private Bank Theatre (now renamed). He since has assumed the Hamilton role in an ongoing national tour for nearly three years, criss-crossing the U.S. and earning hurrahs, before the pandemic and since all theatrical shows resumed tours.
The third time was again in New York, when Big Islander Marc delaCruz was in the ensemble and understudying the Hamilton and other roles before the pandemic.
Here’s the rub: Wherever you sit or whomever plays the title role, it’s highly likely you’ll be charmed.
The show has been a leader in diverse casting, with Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and others singing and dancing among white actors. Don’t be stunned if George Washington is an African American.
In the production here, DeAundre Woods will play Hamilton.
And if you think you’ve seen “Hamilton,” since you watched that luscious and revealing filmed version on Disney+, you really haven’t. Like the promos airing on TV say, to truly appreciate the show, you have “be in the room where it happens,” meaning in a theater. The film had bonuses of close-ups and aerial shots, but theater means being there in the flesh.
I will be taking in three performances here, for different reasons; I’ll attend a media performance on Thursday (Dec. 8), and also on Saturday (Dec. 10 is my season ticket slot). But I’ll be in the room where it happens again on Dec. 21, when I’m inviting my nephew, who will be spending Christmas in Hawaii, on a break from his Army duties at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
Some general advice and tidbits, for first-timers at the show:
- Get acclimated in advance to the cadence and rhythm of the hip-hop raps. If you saw the Disney film, great; you know the flavor and tempos. If not, secure a CD to listen to the numbers before attending. In other words, prepare for your investment in tickets and time.
- This visiting cast is dubbed “And Peggy.” That’s the name of the tour, with other companies also boasting a different code name.
- There’s a marvel of techie stuff on the single set, which has multiple movements to fit the needs; all shows (assuming And Peggy, too) utilize a turntable revolving stage that’s part of the choreographic modes.
- King George (a delightful character) appears in the show twice, so his big number, “I’ll Be Back,” rings true. FYI, his crown weighs 2 ½ lbs. and conceals his mike. You’ll adore him.
- A catwalk will fly in-between acts, so if you’re in the house, look for this set installation. Be in the house when it happens.
- “Hamilton” is the lone show, one of four in the Broadway in Hawaii season, which employs mobile tickets for non-season sales. Season subscribers had “hard” tickets mailed to buyers; if you ordered via Ticketmaster or the Blaisdell box office, you’ll have to transfer your tickets to your mobile phone for entry. (Those without iPhones can complete ticketing at the box office on the night or day of the performance).
- “Hamilton” has a special color for some costumes, including the lead actor’s coats, a tannish tone, dubbed “Hamil-tan.”
- It takes 13 trailers (53 footers) to transit the show from one city to the next (not certain if those trailers moved via planes or boats).
- Splurge a little before you exit; secure a souvenir of a memory you won’t forget. On Broadway, I purchased a T-shirt as well as a baseball cap with HAM inscribed…
And that’s Show Biz. …