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This season, the buzziest Broadway musical—by a landslide—is Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, a genre-defying, rap-fueled celebration of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. In its first year, Miranda’s show has garnered legions of fans (among them Jay Z, Beyoncé, Oprah, Madonna, Julia Roberts, the Obama Family, Amy Schumer, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Hanks…you get the picture). The album is up for a Grammy, and PBS has just announced a forthcoming behind-the-scenes documentary. And, as every news article mentions, it is sold out through the fall. But that doesn’t mean you should rule it out.
Here are six reasons you need to see Hamilton now.
Contrary to popular belief, Hamilton is not the impossible ticket. “Sold out” till September just means you cannot buy tickets through the theater itself. You’ll have to go through a middleman site like TicketMaster or Stubhub, but tickets do exist—for a hefty price. Back-row tickets that the theater would sell for $55 are going for $300 on Stubhub, not including the website’s $50 fee. Orchestra seats could cost you well over $2,000.
You can also test your luck at the lottery, which hundreds of people enter every day to score a precious few seats. In a Broadway first, Hamilton pairs the lottery announcements with a free street performance by cast members, dubbed #Ham4Ham. On Wednesdays and Saturdays a few hours before the show, hundreds line up for a chance to see the actors (and maybe celebrity guests) engage in rap-offs, ballads, and even the occasional ballet dancing. So even if you don’t win seats, your time will not be wasted.
It’s likely that some original cast members will leave the show after the Tonys in June. And you want to see this cast, chosen by Miranda to live out his brainchild. He excels in the title role, but review after review hails the entire ensemble, highlighting Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr), Philippa Soo (Hamilton’s wife, Eliza), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Eliza’s influential sister, Angelica), David Deegs (Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson) and Jonathan Groff (a hilarious King George III).
Miranda drew inspiration from a slew of musical sources to write Hamilton. Audiences can hear not-so-subtle references to Jay Z, Drake, Rihanna, Beyoncé, the Beastie Boys, Ja Rule, Biggie Smalls and Mary J. Blige.
Miranda may have looked to hip-hop and R&B when creating much of the score, but he never forgot that Hamilton was Broadway-bound. Sweeping ballads, epic dancing, gorgeous costumes and a revolving stage (in homage to another revolutionary musical, Les Mis) will have traditional musical lovers on their feet at the finale.
When Miranda read Ron Chernow’s 800-page Alexander Hamilton biography, he asked himself, “Why hasn’t anyone written a musical about this?” And he was right. Ambition, intrigue, unrequited love, rivalry and a revolution: Hamilton’s life was made for the theater.
Hamilton is a nearly non-stop run of songs driving the plot forward without a defining musical moment (no “One Day More” here). By the end of the curtain call, audience members are emotionally drained from the unrelenting buildup of the story. Call it the “slow burn,” and enjoy it.
And of course, stop by The Knickerbocker for signature pre- or post- show drinks.