Stop me if you’ve heard the one about the theater guy who read a 600 page biography of Alexander Hamilton on vacation and turned it into a hip hop, rap musical that’s knocked the colonial socks off of Broadway audiences. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tony Award winner for In the Heights) is that guy, and trust me, you definitely want to experience this show. Forget your preconceptions about, well, pretty much everything. To paraphrase a classic musical, which just opened its revival on Broadway, “wonder of wonder; miracle of miracles,” Hamilton is a show for the ages. And, while there might be several historical debates during Hamilton, as Alexander takes on his rivals, there's no debate that this remarkable show turns theater on its head.
I had the really good fortune to see Hamilton twice during its Off Broadway run at The Public Theater (being a member at The Public Theater ensures that you get introduced to certain new shows, such as Fun Home and Hamilton, early on; I highly recommend it!), and then again a few times on Broadway. Considering I spent much of my first viewing picking my jaw off the ground, the second time allowed me to really appreciate the show. This cast, which has stayed relatively intact over the transfer to the Richard Rodgers theater on Broadway, is brimming with talent and personality, and I had not one, but two stage door meet and greets to enjoy. More on that below.
But first, on a related note, one of the unique entertainment events this show has brought to Broadway is a sidewalk, stage door mini-performance during the pre-show lottery for same day tickets. The lottery is known as Ham4Ham because, if you're lucky enough to win, the ticket(s) are only $10. You won't be surprised to learn that over 1000 people have been known to show up for the lottery, so, as A. Ham would say, "don't give away your shot," but don't get your hopes up either!
There isn't a Ham4Ham show every day, generally just a couple of times a week; but Lin-Manuel Miranda will usually tweet about plans early in the week. When there is a lottery show, what will happen for those few minutes is always a surprise: it could be cast members from other Broadway shows joining Lin, Hamilton cast members showing off other talents, or one of the creative team performing. You can read more about the Ham4Ham shows here, enjoy some of the past shows on YouTube (thanks to Howard Sherman, in particular), and watch the video I took during my personal favorite:
Background: Renee Elise Goldsberry (Anjelica Schuyler) and the three actors who have played King George in the show, Brian d'Arcy James, Jonathan Groff and Andrew Rannells
Back to some Hamilton stage door fun, my take aways from the Broadway version: steel yourself for the crowd; and be aware that the cast comes out the door with most starting from their right and working down the barricade, which means that if you can't get close up near the stage door, try moving down towards the end where some may use that space to exit when they're done. If you aren't successful on your first try, and it's really important to you, you might try coming back another day with your Playbill and waiting at the barricade before the show actually lets out. This is a really enthusiastic, very patient cast, and they do their best to get to everyone.
Here's what happens when A. Ham. gets hold of your cell phone:
And then there were the slightly more dignified meet ups with other cast members:
The lovely Phillipa Soo, Eliza Hamilton, originally won my fan loyalty after I saw her star in the Off Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (currently running at the American Repertory Theater in Boston, and coming to Broadway with Josh Groban in Fall '16)
Daveed Diggs is the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson as you never knew you wanted them to be.
The second King George, Jonathan Groff, having traded crown for bike helmet.
Stage Door Tales
Every stage door has a story.