June was a month of disappointments, theatre-wise. I was meant to see the Eliza company of Hamilton in LA (cancelled). I was meant to see the tour of Frozen in Dallas (cancelled, followed by the announced permanent closing of the Broadway production). I was meant to see the Angelica company of Hamilton at home in Fort Worth (rescheduled to 2022). My Broadway tickets for Hamilton and Six in July were cancelled. I continued my Broadway Weekends at Home classes and watched some things on Broadway HD, but there wasn’t a ton of theatre to access at home in June. And then it was July.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, a filmed stage performance of the original principal Broadway cast of Hamilton was released on the Disney+ streaming platform on July 3rd at midnight PDT. The recording is minus one original ensemble cast member who had already left the show (Betsy Struxness, the originator of the Woman 2 track). This is no mere pro shot like you might see in a Fathom event in movie theatres. This is a dynamic movie-quality production shot over 3 days in June 2016, including 2 live performances with an audience, and another day of close-ups and on-stage filming with just the cast. There are cameras shooting from every angle, even from overhead. Director Tommy Kail really knocked out the selection of shots in this film to leave us with the best possible filmed version of this show. It is masterful.
We wanted to have a good time in getting ready to see this show at home. I made us paper tickets that resemble the design of the tickets we receive here in Dallas for our Dallas Summer Musicals subscription package. I designed a Playbill-type cover personalized for the occasion as well. People have asked me to sell or share these, and I don’t have the copyright authority to sell them nor do I have the software to share an editable pdf. And while I’d like to make free personalized copies available to everyone who asks (and I have done so for a few people who have asked), it would be an undertaking to do on demand for free and I will not tangle with the Hamilton and Disney lawyers to accept money for it. At the end of this post, I will link a few Hamilton programs for this recording that exist for free that you can use instead.
The first watch was me, by myself in the dark at 2AM Central time when it dropped onto Disney+. I woke up from my nap a little early and went through the Whataburger drive thru so I could have a breakfast BURRito as my themed show food. It was the perfect atmosphere to see the show for the first time. Having seen this show 12 times live, I was still knocked out by this filmed version. The closeups really pull you into the characters’ emotions in ways even the best seats in the house (and I’ve sat in those) could not. Afterwards, I tweeted “#HamilFilm is masterful. Same body responses I have in the theatre in all same parts – chills, tears, laughs, stomach aches, it’s all on my TV in brilliant detail. Thank you @Lin_Manuel and @disneyplus and all the @HamiltonMusical cast, creatives, & crew. Thank you.”
In the morning after breakfast, we had our first watch of Hamilton as a family. We decided to celebrate in style and truly re-create the theatre experience. We dressed appropriately, entered through the front door, visited the merch & concession stands, and even waited in line at the restroom. There are some still shots below, but the entire process was documented on TikTok here (you can watch even without an account): https://vm.tiktok.com/JRQpkKL/
I’ve watched it 4 times already and I’m sure there will be many, many more viewings to follow. I am aghast that we just HAVE it. It’s ours. It lives in our TVs and smartphones and tablets. I’m still finding new things to see and deriving new meanings from the lyrics. This show is my favorite thing, and now I can literally carry it in my pocket. And even with its new-found accessibility, I’m more hungry than ever to see it live and in person. Broadway’s intermission has been extended until at least 2021. I’ll be on the first flight I can get away on when it does. I hope you all enjoy my favorite thing!
Disney+ Version of the Hamilton Program (this is a Twitter thread, you’ll need to save the images from all three parts of the thread)
The Hamilcast – A Hamilton Podcast by Gillian Pensavalle, with many episodes including interviews, with cast, crew, and creative team members of Hamilton (website is linked, but also listen wherever you get your podcasts)
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (the book that inspired the musical)
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter (the book about the show)
The Essential Hamilton: writings of Alexander Hamilton compiled by Joanne Freeman
The Hamildrops (additional mixtape type songs dropped monthly throughout 2018 and saved in a spotify playlist)