Late to the Party; Or, Dear God, Why Haven’t I Seen Hamilton Yet?

Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Photo: Joan Marcus)

I really messed up on this one, friends. That’s right, I STILL haven’t seen Hamilton. I’ve never been so behind the times.

For the people out there who, as they say, might be living under a rock (or maybe they’re just not on social media), Hamilton is the new Broadway musical that’s currently taking over the world. Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Tony winner for In the Heights in 2008, has teamed up again with Director Tommy Kail and a million other crazy talented people to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton through hip hop and rap music. Perhaps you saw the scoop on “60 Minutes.” Or Miranda freestyling on the Tonight Show two weeks ago. Or heard about the education initiative in which 20,000 high school students will get to see the show for $10 each. Or seen some of the amazing mini-performances at the #Ham4Ham lottery. Or know that POTUS and FLOTUS have both seen the show (twice).

Listen, let me explain myself. I had planned on seeing it when it was Off-Broadway at The Public earlier this year, but the prices were so steep (the irony, I know) that I decided to wait until a discount became available. Then the reviews hit, and the show blew up. I knew it was going to be big – I didn’t know it was going to be a cultural phenomenon. Anyway, I felt that a post explaining myself was necessary since anyone and everyone is talking Hamilton, and it has yet to be mentioned on this blog.

This thing has been on my radar since Miranda’s first performance of a song at the White House in 2009. I was always excited because I was a super Heights fan. Back when I worked at Marquee Merchandise, the spring of 2008, we jammed out to the cast recording every day, learning all the rhymes as we charged credit cards, packaged, labeled, and mailed stacks upon stacks of pre-ordered CDs. Ah, memories. Whenever I had a spare evening that year or found myself wandering around Times Square around 9pm, I would swing by the Richard Rodgers theatre to check on the merch sellers, but really it was so I could go stand in the back of the orchestra and watch select scenes. I loved having a Broadway show on-call like that. I could go whenever I wanted. Need a little “96,000” in my life? Or “Champagne?” Want to see how Corbin Bleu is doing? I felt like the Richard Rodgers was mine. I also was watching this video on repeat at the time.

So when Hamilton hit the scene, I was ready – just not ready enough apparently. I waited on that ticket and then missed the boat. All this to say, I dropped a chunk of change (way more than it would have been at the Public, whoops) and bought my ticket a few months ago. I probably could have gotten a seat in the back and seen it by now, but for that kind of money, I wanted a SEAT, you know? December 17th it is. I will wait impatiently until that day and continue to avoid the cast recording that I so desperately want to hear.

Thus, let the one-month countdown begin. Then we can discuss.

The Understudy Promotional Shoot

The Understudy Film Shoot

So a couple of days ago, I got to have my first experience on a film set! Okay, so maybe it was just a few of us in a theatre with my dad’s video equipment, but it still was pretty darn legit if I do say so myself.

Want more details? Knew you would! Right now I’m working on a production of Theresa Rebeck’s The Understudy. I’m acting in it alongside two amazingly talented and hilarious friends of mine, Brian Byus and Craig Hanson. I’m also lead producer, and on Tuesday we got together to film the teaser for the show. The play goes up May 28 through June 1 at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, NY, but we’re starting to get the word out now because our fundraiser goes live in March!

With the help of my lovely parents, our director Jenn Haltman, and New York Theatre Workshop, we shot the video at the 4th Street Theatre downtown. And it was such a hoot. Here are some of the things I learned:

  • that I could make fake blood and pretend to be a make-up artist in order to ready Brian’s character Jake for his blockbuster action film
  • that one can hold up a shower curtain on a rod in front of work lights to create the right effect
  • that Craig doing bad performance art is one of the funniest things in the world
  • what B-roll is and why you need it
  • that Brian can run really fast down 4th street with a cab chasing him
  • that my dad’s love for the show 24 provides great inspiration for some classic action film shots
  • that rehearsals are going to be so much fun come April (but let’s be honest, I knew that already)

Now it’s on to editing and narrowing all this great footage down to just a few minutes. Finalized video coming soon!

Be sure to stay tuned for more info about The Understudy. And I just created our Twitter account @UnderstudyNYC, so follow us here!

On the Horizon: The Bridges of Madison County

The Bridges of Madison County

Another new musical I’m excited for this season is The Bridges of Madison County. Ironically I haven’t read the book or seen the movie. It’s once again the cast and creative team that have me revved up for this show.

Directed by Tony winner Bartlett Sher, the music is written by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown and the book by Marsha Norman. Marsha Norman, guys! She’s a Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner who wrote the book for the musical The Secret Garden, a personal favorite from my youth.

The trio of stars are Kelli O’Hara, Steven Pasquale, and the recently announced Hunter Foster. I love these three. Kelli, a four-time Tony nominee, is wonderful; not just a beautiful blonde with a beautiful voice, but that girl can act (see: South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza). Steven you might know from TV land (Rescue Me or the less successful Do No Harm), but I’ve been listening to him woo me with his sweet, sweet voice for years in A Man of No Importance, singing The Streets of Dublin. And Hunter? Please. I’ve had a legit crush on him since 2001 when he starred as Bobby Strong in Urinetown. I try to see him in everything he does (yes, I even saw Hands on a Hardbody).

Here’s a song preview featuring O’Hara and Pasquale (and here is some rehearsal footage). If you’re a fan of Jason Robert Brown, I think you’ll enjoy the new tune. It has a Parade-like feel to it (for which he won the Tony for Best Score in 1999). Don’t know JRB’s music? Be sure to also listen to Songs for a New World and The Last Five Years on good ol’ Spotify.

Overall, there is a lot of potential here between the creatives and cast. Bridges begins previews on January 17th at the Schoenfeld Theatre and opens February 20th. Check back around then for a review from me!

The Bridges of Madison County
Written by Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman, Directed by Barlett Sher
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, first preview January 17th
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Pictured: Steven Pasquale and Kelli O’Hara

On the Horizon: IF/THEN

It’s another new feature! “On the Horizon” posts will focus on shows that are making their way to Broadway in the upcoming season(s).

IF/THEN recently finished up its run in Washington, DC at The National Theatre and isn’t coming to the Great White Way for another several months (March 2014), but I can’t help but be excited about the possibilities!

First, you’ve got this creative team: composer Tom Kitt and book/lyrics writer Brian Yorkey (the Tony-winning writing team of Next to Normal) and Tony-nominated director Michael Greif. Second, the show stars Tony winner Idina Menzel and features Anthony Rapp, James Snyder, LaChanze, Jenn Colella, and more. Third, and possibly most important, it’s Brand. New. Material.

This is so rare nowadays in the musical world it makes my heart hurt a little. Yes, yes, musicals based on movies can be hits (Kinky Boots, Matilda) and even some jukebox musicals make a huge splash (Jersey Boys), but to quote [title of show]: “Original on Broadway? Baby, that is risky!”

I can tell you that this audio clip got me excited about it. And, well, that’s all I really know. The basic premise is that a woman in her 40s (Menzel) is entering a new phase of her life in New York City and getting a chance at a fresh start.

Who knows? Maybe it will crash and burn, but what can I say? I’m excited to support the risk-takers out there and see something new.

Written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, Directed by Michael Greif
Richard Rodgers Theatre, first preview March 5th
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Pictured: Idina Menzel