Do you already have plans for July 3rd? I’m dressing up, heels and all, heading to my couch and streaming. The Broadway musical hit was filmed at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York in 2016 over the course of three days. Lyricist and songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, rapper Daveed Diggs, and the rest of the original cast, including Okieriete Onaodowan, Phillipa Soo, and Anthony Ramos, were still on stage telling the story of America’s founding father, Alexander Hamilton.
I’m curious to see how Hamilton’s small-screen “live catch” version compares to the live performance I saw last January in San Francisco with a different cast and a price far more substantial than the monthly subscription fee for Disney Plus.
“One of the things we always face on Broadway is how prohibitive Broadway was for a lot of people,” said cast member Daveed Diggs, who played Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, during a Zoom press conference with Hamilton’s team. June 16. “People just couldn’t afford the ticket. And even if you could, there are only so many seats.”
Producer and director Thomas Kail, who also directed the filmed version of Hamilton, said Disney originally planned to release the musical 15 months after its current release date. But the team felt now, amid the many cultural limitations of theIt was the right time. “Not only are there no Hamiltons, but there are no live performances,” said the director. “There are no concerts. There is no Broadway. There is no regional theater.”
Miranda, who was wearing a hat because of what she said was “very bad quarantine hair,” insisted on the idea of democratizing Hamilton’s experience. Even after a five-year run on Broadway and multiple productions of the show taking place simultaneously, the Grammy, Emmy, Pulitzer, and Tony award winners believe more people will see Hamilton between July 3 and 5 on Disney Plus in what they have already seen completely. .
You won’t have to worry about getting to the theater on time, parking won’t be a problem and you’ll probably feel more comfortable at home than sitting in a theater seat with limited legroom. But how much live energy can this recorded performance capture?
“The task for me was trying to create a document of what it feels like to be in that room,” Kail said. “This is not trying to be the show. This is your own experience and I think we are trying to embrace the love we have for being in the theater.”
For the final version of this movie, Kail explained, the team captured two live performances. The show never stopped during filming, with cameras located in the audience. Kail also had a time with the cast in the theater without spectators. The film crew were able to jump on stage for those shots and used stable cameras as well as cameras on cranes and dollies.
“This is better than the best seat in the house in Hamilton,” said Miranda. “Tommy deliberately breaks the proscenium in some places.”
The film was shot 10 months after the cast sang for the original Broadway cast recording and after countless Broadway performances. Miranda joked that Hamilton is the best rehearsed movie of all time, “outside of maybe a few David Fincher scenes.”
The Hamilton resonance today
But Hamilton’s team knows that this is more than just a play for some. They were eager to comment on protests against racism and demands for social justice taking place around the world following the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis.
“I am very excited to see how [the show] inspires this movement, “said Onaodowan, who played Hercules Mulligan and James Madison.” I am excited for young children who are upset and angry. They can see this and realize that they can put their energies through writing, challenging people who say things they don’t like to hear like Hamilton did. ”
Soo, who played Eliza Hamilton, underlined the relevance of having such a diverse cast, especially for younger audiences. She spoke about young people of color, young Asian women, and young people from other backgrounds thanking her for being part of a group on stage that looked like them. “It’s always good to remember that version of yourself when you were that person and what it feels like to admire these people with whom you form your first artistic experiences,” she said.
As for Hamilton’s future, Ramos has an idea of what might be next: a suitable film musical adaptation. “We did it up high,” said the actor, who played John Laurens and Philip Hamilton. “Let me know, Lin, when we’re ready to do Hamilton.”
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