If you're a person who is alive, chances are you've heard about Hamilton, the hip-hop musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton, created by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Since opening off-Broadway in 2015, the show has turned into a phenomenon, winning 11 Tony Awards and becoming one of the most sought-after tickets on Broadway.
The show will finally be performed for Los Angeles audiences when the current national tour stops at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre from Aug. 11-Dec. 30. Some Angelenos may have already seen the show outside of L.A. and others may not want to see it at all, but here are 10 good reasons to get a ticket if you can.
1. Michael Luwoye is Alexander Hamilton. For L.A. audiences, the absence of Lin-Manuel Miranda may be a reason not to see the show in L.A. Michael Luwoye, who plays Hamilton in the touring company, may play the role differently but he still brings an energy that can't be missed. Luwoye actually began his tenure as Hamilton in the Broadway production, first as an understudy and then as an alternate for the role once a week. “Michael is such a lightning rod of energy and focus. He's so consistent and such an honest, open [performer]. He feels like a brother to me when we're doing this onstage, which makes the betrayal even harder to deal with,” says Joshua Henry, who plays Hamilton's rival, Aaron Burr, in this production.
2. Joshua Henry is Aaron Burr. While many may be familiar with Leslie Odom Jr.'s take on the role in the original cast, Henry is a very well-known Broadway actor who has received multiple Tony nominations, including for his role in The Scottsboro Boys. He even appeared in the ensemble of Miranda's pre-Hamilton show, In the Heights. “Joshua Henry's Burr is phenomenal. The fact that [L.A. is] getting to see one of Broadway's top leading men right now is a real gift for all of us,” says Rory O'Malley, a Tony nominee who plays King George, as he did on Broadway and in the San Francisco production. “I can't believe I get to hear Joshua Henry sing eight times a week — he's flawless.”
3. This group of performers has set out to make the show fresh rather than re-creating what the Broadway cast has already done. “One of the great things about the creative team is that they really want this to be a separate thing [from Broadway],” Henry says. “The creative team really put their trust in this company and said you have to make it who you are. We're not trying to re-create what we did in New York, and that's a really freeing feeling as an artist. I'm so grateful for that trust they've put in us.” This cast also started from the beginning together as a group, as opposed to the current Broadway production, which constantly has new actors coming in to replace the original cast. “We started as a cast all together, so on day one we were all on the same page. It's been a team effort, so it's just nice to join a cast that's kind of like my cast, my home base,” O'Malley says.
4. L.A. is a melting pot, which fits right into the themes of Hamilton. The genre-bending format and diversity of the Hamilton cast has made both the birth of our country — and theater in general — more accessible to nonwhites. The story itself is about an immigrant who came to America for a new life. “The image of diversity onstage is such a powerful image, an image that represents everyone in America, [and] in this particular cast, [there are] white, black, Asian, Hispanic [performers],” Henry says. “It's really empowering when you see yourself represented in entertainment and especially onstage when you're talking about how this country came to be.” What better place to see such diversity onstage than in a city as diverse as Los Angeles?
5. L.A. audiences bring a specific energy that audiences in New York or any other city don't. Both Henry and O'Malley agree that the audience is an integral part of the show, and the energy it brings greatly affects the actors onstage. Because L.A. doesn't have as big a theater scene as some other cities, those who seek out theater do not take it for granted and have an enthusiasm that's unrivaled. “I think that the L.A. audiences are going to bring an enthusiasm and a positivity [because they] are so grateful to see theater that they really see it as being a privilege,” O'Malley says. “When I've gone to see shows at the Pantages, there's always an extra amount of excitement because it's not every day that [a big show like] Hamilton comes to town. In New York, it's like, this show's been running for years, [but in L.A.], it's only here for five months.”
6. This is the first time that Hamilton is being performed in Los Angeles — and being among the first to see it is cool. While the hit musical probably will come back to the West Coast in the future (as all Broadway smashes do at some point), how many people will be able to say that they were able to see it the first time it ever appeared in Los Angeles? “The West Coast has been starved of Hamilton and we're the first ambassadors to bring [it] here,” Henry says. “You gotta be in the room where it happens!”
7. This production of Hamilton is a homecoming of sorts for certain Angeleno cast members. Ruben J. Carbajal, who plays John Laurens and Philip Hamilton on the tour, is an L.A. native, raised in Westchester. “We're all so excited to go to L.A., but he is like so pumped,” O'Malley says. Carbajal even begins his bio in the playbill by writing, “Los Angeles native (go Dodgers!) and proud graduate of Loyola High School of L.A. Regional.” O'Malley isn't an L.A. native but he currently resides in L.A. and definitely considers the city home. “Los Angeles is where I became an actor. After I graduated college, I moved to L.A. I started working for the Garry Marshall Theatre in Toluca Lake and did theater at the Hudson Theatre in Santa Monica,” he says. “I paid my dues by working at every single restaurant in the Grove until they fired me. I worked an overnight shift at the Mondrian Hotel. Really, for me this is a homecoming.”
8. The production is planning outreach for L.A. high school students. Sure, tickets can be expensive, but the Hamilton tour hasn’t come to L.A. just to take Angelenos' money. As it did in other cities, as part of the #EduHam program, the cast plans to invite high schoolers learning about the Revolutionary War to see a matinee. Before the show, the students take the stage to perform a piece they wrote themselves relating to American history and then get to ask questions of the cast. “The biggest gift to me is that we get thank-you cards from the students. The No. 1 comment that will always stick with me is a young black boy saying, 'I can't believe that George Washington looked like me.' That was about him realizing that the story of George Washington is his story, that this is his story, that this is our history,” O'Malley says.
9. In today's political climate, Hamilton has become more relevant than ever. Not only does the show highlight issues of immigration, diversity and tolerance, which many consider to be under attack in Trump's America, but it also serves as a reminder of where we came from and how America was born. “It's a show about election, about freedom, about standing up for what's right, and I think it's really been a reminder to people that we have to keep going, we have to keep working and honoring the generations before us who fought for our independence,” O'Malley says. Henry echoes his sentiments: “I think Hamilton brings a voice of hope in saying that no matter what your politics are, sometimes we have to just remember that we're people wanting the same things for our children — we want to leave [the country] better than we received it. We all have different opinions on how to get to that goal, but I think remembering this is very important, and Hamilton helps to keep that right in front of our faces.”
10. L.A. theater is way cheaper than Broadway. Face-value tickets begin at $85 at the Pantages, and go as high as $750 for premium seats. In comparison, Broadway prices begin at $139 and go up to $849 for premium seats. Even on the resale market, fans can find tickets on StubHub for around $200 in L.A., whereas there are no listings for Broadway tickets for less than $300 a pop. “Hamilton is a game-changer for the musical theater genre,” O'Malley says. “It's moved the art form forward so much and redefined so many things about what we do in theater, so it's pretty hard to oversell it.”
Hamilton, Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Aug. 11-Dec. 30; $85-$750. hollywoodpantages.com.
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