“Hamilton” Opens at the Richard Rodgers Theatre

A Round Of Rave Reviews for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Masterpiece

hamiltonOn August 6, 2015, Hamilton played its opening night performance at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It had been running in previews on Broadway since its first performance on July 13, 2015. Prior to this, Hamilton had an extremely successful run at Off-Broadway at the Public Theater from January 20, 2015 to May 3, 2015. After receiving universal acclaim in the smaller venue, buzz abounded and headlines soared about this new musical with book, lyrics, and music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which also stars him in the title role. Along with producers Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, and Jill Furman, the Public Theater brought the show to Broadway. Like the Public run, this production is directed by Thomas Kail (Magic/Bird, Lombardi, In the Heights), and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler. The show is praised for its reimagining of the period in history in which our founding fathers began this country. Rather than focusing on the traditional hero George Washington, who also appears in the show, the heart of this tale is on Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. Furthermore, instead of cast with traditional white males, this show features black and Latino performers singing musical styles ranging from rap to hip hop to R&B, as well as traditional musical theatre.

Strong Praise for the Production and the PerformersHAMILTON

Ben Brantley of The New York Times began his rave review with a single line: “Yes, it really is that good.” Admitting that he was among the critics to give the show universal praise in its previous incarnation, he said he had begun to wonder if the hype was really a match for the quality of the production. However, after seeing the enhanced version in the Broadway theatre, Brantley continued his praise and gave the show his blessing. At one point he even suggested that people should mortgage their houses in order to afford a ticket to this show, if only to reassure themselves that the American musical is still alive and well. The other major critics were no less appreciative. David Cote from Time Out New York called this show the greatest American musical in decades, proclaiming his love for this show in both simple and extravagant terms. Jeremy Gerard in Deadline called the show electrifying, stating that it is destined for the record books, and comparing it to both Rent and A Chorus Line from previous eras. Jesse Green from Vulture remarked on the incredible number of songs in the show – 34 – and concluded that the ambition and the scope of this show are a major breakthrough in the art form. Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News said that Hamilton made Broadway officially the coolest place on the planet.

Bull’s Eye Box Office, and Somehow Increasing

In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending August 2, 2015, Hamilton brought in $1,490,816. This represents 111.67% of the show’s gross potential across the eight performances. This was the third full week of the run, although the first two weeks had just seven performances each. Still, with each progressive week, Hamilton has managed to increase its overall box office gross as well as the percentage reached of its gross potential. Granted, this past week the percentage of gross potential increased from 111.51% to 111.67%, which is a small increase, and yet it continues to show that people will pay top dollar and see this show however they can. Presently, the top ticket price is $275.00, but perhaps as the show continues to be a hot ticket, the producers may choose to practice dynamic pricing and also to raise the cost of premium tickets. This will enable to show to break even more quickly, entering profits so that the investors can make back more of their money sooner. For the ticketbuyer, this means that Hamilton will continue to be a very tough show to see. In order to see it, one must be resourceful – both in terms of finding a way to get a ticket, and in terms of affording one.

“Hamilton” Begins Previews on Broadway

Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hit at the Public Theater

hamiltonOn July 13, 2015, the highly anticipated new musical Hamilton began previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. The official opening night is scheduled for August 6, 2015. With book, lyrics, and music by Lin Manuel-Miranda (In the Heights), Hamilton had its New York premiere at the Off-Broadway Public Theater in the East Village, with previews beginning on January 20, 2015, its official opening night on February 17, 2015, and wrapping up performances on May 3, 2015. The show was directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who are the same director and choreographer as for the Broadway production. The show is inspired by the life story of United States founding father Alexander Hamilton, and is specifically based off of the biography Alexander Hamilton written by Ron Chernow. Chernow has served as the historical consultant for this production. When the show premiered Off-Broadway, critics far and wide hailed it as a magnificent achievement. With so much buzz, the producers considering bringing it to Broadway in time for Tony Awards consideration in 2015. However, with the Public Theater’s Fun Home also competing for Best Musical (which it ended up winning), and with the creative team of Hamilton believing more work could be done to perfect the musical, the show’s Broadway transfer was delayed until the summer.

Lin Manuel-Miranda Stars in His Own Musical in the Title Rolehamilton

Not only did Lin Manuel-Miranda write the book, lyrics, and music for Hamilton, but he also takes to the stage in this production, playing the role of Hamilton himself. There is also an alternate actor to play Hamilton on select performances, that is Javier Muñoz. This weekend in particular, President Obama and his two daughters attended the matinee performance of Hamilton on Saturday; this day was scheduled to be a day when Miranda sat in the audience to watch the show, and on which Muñoz would perform the title role. Even though the Obamas came for this performance, Miranda stuck to his original plan and sat in the audience to watch his show for the first time as an audience member. The concept of this show is a fresh take on the story of Alexander Hamilton. Rather than being rooted in the principally white background of the forefathers of this country, Miranda opted to embrace the racial diversity present in modern day America, incorporating R&B, jazz, hip hop, tin pan alley, and contemporary Broadway style music into his compositions. The casting incorporates a vast amount of racial diversity, and the show has been praised for its cultural reimagining of this time period.

A Stellar Supporting Cast and Creative Team

In addition to Lin Manuel-Miranda in the title role, the cast includes Jonathan Groff as King George, Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, and Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler. The scenic design is by David Korins, the costume design is by Paul Tazewell, the lighting design is by Howell Binkley, the sound design is by Nevin Steinberg, and the hair and wig design is by Charles G. LaPointe. Overall, this cast and creative team is sure to make a big splash on Broadway, and even though they missed the Tony Awards this time around, the buzz this show is generating implies that it will be a major contender at the Tony Awards in 2016.

In the Heights Cast Reunion Concert

The 2008 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, In the Heights, is soon to make an appearance in the very neighborhood that the musical celebrates, Washington Heights.  The Broadway musical sensation is getting a revival of a sorts during a one-night-only concert to be held at the United Palace of Cultural Arts (located at Broadway and 175th Street) on February 11.

The In the Heights concert will feature members of the show’s original Broadway cast and the national tour cast, including star (and co-writer) Lin-Manuel Miranda, Christopher Jackson, Karen Olivo, Mandy Gonzalez, Robin De Jesus, Janet Dacal, and Olga Merediz.  Part of the proceeds from the In the Heights concert will go to support arts programs in Washington Heights, as well as The Broadway League’s Family First Nights, a program designed to encourage at-risk families to regularly attend theater.

The event is being organized by The Broadway League’s “Viva Broadway” initiative, which was established in order to help increase theater attendance among Latino audiences across the nation.

Bring It On To Close End of December

Bright It On: The Musical has just announced its intention to close on Broadway on December 30.  The competitive cheerleading musical, based loosely on the 2000 movie of the same title, started performances at the St. James Theatre on July 12, with an official opening on August 1.  Originally Bring It On was only scheduled to play on Broadway until October 7, but good ticket sales and positive audience reaction encouraged the production to extend its run through January 20, 2013.

“We are extremely grateful for the enthusiastic audiences who have cheered on this extraordinary cast and that we’ve been afforded 12 additional performance weeks past our original end date,” said Universal Pictures Stage Productions spokesman Glenn Ross in a statement.  “We’ve decided to forego the historically slow month of January and play our final performance on December 30, at the height of the holiday season, as we celebrate the remarkable achievement of our creative team and all of the talented people who made Bring It On a one-of-a-kind Broadway experience.”

Bring It On: The Musical, which includes the participation of some real-life competitive cheerleaders to help create the show’s high-flying stunts, has a score by Tom Kitt (Next To Normal), Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), and Amanda Green.  Avenue Q scribe Jeff Whitty penned the musical’s book.  Although Bring It On will be closing on Broadway at the end of the year, the show’s producers are discussing the possibility of touring it around the country in 2013.

Bring It On: The Musical Broadway Show Review

Bring It On

Bring It On, now playing at the St. James Theatre, didn’t come to Broadway with much fanfare.  Loosely based on the 2000 movie of the same name, Bring It On: The Musical began by playing touring engagements on the road, then sneaked onto Broadway in the middle of the summer (usually a dead time for Broadway), scheduled for only a limited engagement.  Given its somewhat sheepish approach onto Broadway, most people didn’t expect much for this competitive cheerleading-themed musical.  However, Bring It On has managed to be a pleasant surprise, kicking off the 2012-2013 Broadway season with flair.

The thing that first catches your eye in Bring It On: The Musical is the acrobatics.  Many real-life competitive cheerleaders are in the show’s cast, and they pull off some incredible moves onstage, flipping, somersaulting, and being flung far up into the air.  Bring It On has more going for it, though, than the “special effects” provided by these talented young people.  It also has a smart, silly, and often hilarious book by Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), who creates a cast of well-drawn characters that each have their individual quirks (kudos also to the youthful cast, who bring these colorful characters to life).

One of Bring It On‘s innovations is employing two songwriting teams.  The show centers on two very different high schools that ultimately compete against each other, so it seems appropriate to have multiple songwriters.  In the Heights‘ Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with Tom Kitt (Next To Normal) and Amanda Green, provide the songs, utilizing very different styles to highlight the differences between the worlds of these two schools.  A few songs are a bit bland, but on the whole it is a strong score.  (The incredibly catchy number “Do Your Own Thing” deserves to be a Top 40 radio hit right now.)

Originally scheduled to play into October, enthusiastic audience reaction and ticket sales has already encouraged Bring It On: The Musical to extend through January 20, so you have plenty of time to catch this high-flying cheerleading crowd-pleaser.