“Hamilton” is one of those Broadway shows that only rich people get to see, or those who go into deep debt. If you don’t monitor the buzz on new shows and swoop in to get tickets before the hype kicks in, you’re screwed. When we lived in New York, we rarely ever paid full price to see a show and as a result, we never saw “The Book of Mormon”, “Dear Evan Hansen”, or “Hamilton”. Instead, we stretched our dollars and saw more shows, sometimes being lucky enough to catch sensations before they got priced out of reach. And thus, we saw a lot of wonderful shows.
But not “Hamilton”.
We weren’t particularly motivated to see the show, truth be told. We heard it was hip-hop, although every number I saw on TV sounded quite musical theater-ish. Patter songs, you could say, are very square early form of rap. Well, that’s my theory anyhow. And the subject matter seems interesting. But we just weren’t ready to open a second mortgage on the house.
Now everyone will have a chance to see it, due to the fact that Disney has ponied up $75 million for the rights, which is kind of a bargain really because the show has already been filmed. They filmed three performances of the Broadway show with the original cast, along with audience-less close-ups and other pick-up shots, which will be edited together to provide the best seat in the house for the price of a movie ticket for audiences across the world. Cool! Even I’d pay that to see the show now. And Disney doesn’t have to spend hundreds of millions trying to film the show with sets and locations, which wouldn’t make a lot of sense anyhow for this show. Here, we can get the pure theatrical experience that electrified Broadway instead of losing it to so many factors that could go wrong.
Think about “Jersey Boys”. The show was sensational. We saw it in Chicago and found it to be terrific, a beautifully put together show that would work anywhere. But then they announced the movie version with Clint Eastwood as the director. The worst choice possible. This is a great director, whatever your politics, but he’s also known to be unfussy, filming everything in as few takes as possible. But a musical requires fussiness, a lot of fussiness. There’s the lightning, the costumes, the choreography, the sets, the music, and especially the performers. Everything needs to be fussed over. So they made the film, and of course it flopped. I caught it on cable and blaggghhh. A corpse. They should have just filmed the Broadway show.
So luckily, they’re not making the same mistake with “Hamilton”. However, we will have to wait until the Fall of 2021 to see it. In the meantime, check out these clips from the show: