10 ‘Hamilton’ facts to know before its S.A. debut
San Antonio’s long wait in the wings for “Hamilton” is almost over.
The national tour makes its San Antonio debut at the Majestic Theatre with a three-week stay starting Tuesday, more than a year after its arrival was announced.
How to while away the time remaining in your BH — that would be Before “Hamilton” — existence? Start by spending a few minutes reading up on the show. (And yes, the items are numbered in homage to the show’s “Ten Duel Commandments.”)
No. 1, the story: The show sets the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton — including his hardscrabble formative years, his fraught romantic life, his ideas about what the new country should be and his death following a duel with Aaron Burr — to music.
No. 2, the music: The propulsive score draws on hip-hop, R&B, pop, jazz and musical theater to produce something wholly original. It has been preserved in a cast album. There’s also “The Hamilton Mixtape,” in which a slew of music superstars including the Roots, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys and Jill Scott recorded their interpretations of the songs. And Hamildrops is a series of remixes and new material posted throughout 2018 on various audio streaming services.
No. 3, the creator: Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the book, music and lyrics for the show. He also played the title role in the original staging.
No. 4, more Miranda: Miranda made his first big splash with “In the Heights,” a rousing musical about home and cultural identity that won five Tonys and is headed to the big screen next year. Miranda played the lead roles in both shows: Usnavi, the open-hearted bodega owner in “In the Heights,” and “young, scrappy and hungry” founding father Alexander Hamilton in “Hamilton.” Miranda also posts almost daily on Twitter, offering glimpses of the “Hamilton” phenomenon from his vantage point as well as spirit-raising affirmations, some of which were collected last fall in the book “Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You.”
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No. 5, source material: Legend — not to mention many, many interviews — has it that Miranda picked up Ron Chernow’s massive biography of Alexander Hamilton as a vacation read. He told Playbill in a 2009 interview that he had thought he might get “a funny song” out of it, adding, “But as I read it, I realized Hamilton’s whole life was about the power of words, and wouldn’t it be great to hear a hip-hop album about how we created this country.” At the time, he envisioned it as a concept album.
No. 6, Obama connection: Miranda gave the Obama family a taste of what was to come, rapping an early version of what would become the show’s opening song during a poetry event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009. At the time, Miranda was still thinking of the material as a concept album. In 2016, after the project had evolved into a full-scale musical, the cast visited the White House to perform it. And President Barack Obama helped Miranda close out the Hamildrops series, appearing in the final post, “One Last Time (44 Remix).” Obama also appeared in “Hamilton’s America,” a PBS documentary about the show.
No. 7, awards: The show was nominated for a record 16 Tony Awards and won 11, one short of the record 12 won by “The Producers” in 2001. “Hamilton” also received the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
No. 8, productions: The show is still playing on Broadway, where it opened in 2015. There are two touring companies, dubbed Philip and Angelica after Philip and Angelica Schuyler, Hamilton’s father- and sister-in-law. San Antonio is getting the Philip cast. There also are productions running year-round in Chicago, San Francisco and in London’s West End.
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No. 9, San Antonio connection: Yep, there is one! Jared Howelton, a graduate of the North East School of the Arts in 2011, is a swing in the Chicago production. He understudies several of the lead roles, including the Marquis de Lafayette and Hercules Mulligan.
No. 10, exhibit: Titled, of course, “Hamilton: The Exhibit,” it opened April 27 in Chicago and expands on Hamilton’s life and on the show that bears his name. The Chicago Sun Times noted, “Never before has a theatrical production spawned the massive, immersive, interactive ‘experience’ that the exhibition promises to deliver.” Info can be found at hamiltonexhibition.com.
Deborah Martin is an arts writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @DeborahMartinEN