Hamilton – Comes to the Masses – Encore

“Not throwing away my shot … young, scrappy and hungry” – Hit song from Broadway musical Hamilton; see link here.

This expensive Broadway play ($450 for two tickets for me) has now come down in price – but only in this new medium of streaming video – the masses can now consume it for $6.99 … for the entire household.

According to a recent Forbes Magazine (June 8, 2020) article:

After opening on Broadway in 2015, competition for a seat became so hot that scalpers at one point were reportedly getting close to $11,000 in the aftermarket. In anticipation of Broadway re-opening on Sept. 8, face-value tickets start at $149 but go for as much as $2,200 a seat in the resale market.

This is the reality of the economics of Supply-and-Demand.

Despite the drop in prices, the production quality is still valued and the producers will make even more money.

Size does matter when it comes to Hollywood.

Hamilton: $1 Billion Franchise
And it did so far faster than other Broadway phenoms. The top three grossing musicals are all more than 16 years old. Hamilton, which turns 5 this year, was on track this year to surpass another smash hit, The Book of Mormon, before Covid-19 forced Broadway’s theaters to close. – Source: Forbes.June 8, 2020

Truly, the stakeholders for Hamilton have not “thrown away their shot’. See this conveyed in this related story here, about the Hamilton blockbuster movie – visualizing the stage play – that was just released to the streaming-media site DisneyPlus:

Title: Why the ‘Hamilton’ Film Works — and Joel Schumacher’s ‘Phantom’ Didn’t
By: Marina Watts

Turning a Broadway musical into a movie is no easy task. Bringing the excitement that was onstage to the silver screen is a challenge, from sets and songs to simply making sure the musical translates to the screen. West Side Story (1961), My Fair Lady (1964) and Cabaret (1972) were all successful shows that were adapted for the silver screen with similar success.

Filmed Broadway shows such as Peter Pan (1955), She Loves Me (2016) and Newsies (2017) were also massive hits which opted to shoot a staged performance. So was Hamilton (you may have heard of it).

Hamilton, which premiered on Disney+ on July 3, has been an absolute hit. Between the acting, singing, dancing and songwriting, the filmed version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning show has many viewers obsessed. Disney+ even saw a 74% spike in streaming subscriptions the weekend it premiered, as per Forbes.

What also makes this film adaptation of the staged show work is how it was made. Director Thomas Kail recently revealed exactly how he filmed and edited Hamilton. He used 30 cameras to shoot the musical in three days in 2016 (June 26, 27 and 28, Sunday through Tuesday) and spent three years piecing it together. On the 26th and 28th, Kail shot straight through with an audience. On the 27, he had no audience, allowing him to focus on closer shots of the show.

“I had six cameras that were shooting on the Sunday with different operators and then three fixed cameras or nine total,” Kail explained to Inquirer.net. “Then, I changed all the positions for the fixed cameras for the Tuesday so the multiple gets high really fast, but that’s how we made it.”

This movie musical was an incredible example of converting a stage musical to screens with only three days of footage, unlike Joel Schumacher’s 2004 adaptation of Phantom of the Opera whichtook four months to film.

The big-budget adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical was a cinematographic mess, despite the fact that it had been in development since 1989. Schumacher’s focus on making other films and Weber’s divorce were just two events which added to the delays.

Schumaker starred Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver and Gerard Butler as the Phantom, and was nominated for three Academy Awards. But those noms didn’t translate to critical acclaim.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 33% approval rating. “The music of the night has hit something of a sour note: critics are calling the screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular musical, histrionic boring and lacking in both romance and danger,” the consensus read. Although critics didn’t like the movie, audiences loved it.

What threw critics appeared to be the movie’s…cinematography and direction. Shots failed to make the sound stages of Phantom look cinematic. The scenes felt like an overstuffed painting, and though that type of spectacle would have translated well onstage for the suspension of disbelief, it felt exhausting onscreen and lacked dimension. The sweeping camera shots and long takes didn’t add anything either, especially when showing off the mostly computer generated sets.

The film’s color schemes were also deemed dull. In the “Masquerade” scene, for example, many colors and bright images are mentioned throughout the song. However, the main colors of the costumes were black and white, a stark contrast to the lyrics.

The set of Hamilton, meanwhile, was simple yet effective. Since they were also using the costumes and the set directly from the show, nothing got lost in translation as far as spectacle went.

Weber was granted full artistic control. When it came to his intentions of adapting Phantom, he said, “We did not want to do a film version of the stage show,” as per Playbill. “We wanted to make a film in its own right.”

Kail, meanwhile, wanted to recreate the theater experience for viewers at home. “I was just interested in trying to create an experience with the film of Hamilton that would let you know what it felt like to be in the theater in June of 2016 in New York City at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. That was the intent,” he explained.

Kail explained that they way they shot the staged musical, they were able to get as close as possible to the actors for an immersive and intimate experience. These close-up shots gave viewers the best seat in the house, unlike Phantom.

“So much of our storytelling is done in the physical vocabulary,” he noted. “If I’m going to close up, it means I’m not on that dance step. It’s very hard to do both those things. So, it was a real balance of making sure that I wanted to give intimacy and proximity, which you have in cinema.”

Additionally, throughout Phantom of the Opera, many of the actors’ mouths don’t appear to match up with the music. There are also many continuity issues, from moments where the Phantom takes off his cloak, to candles being lit and unlit, and masks disappearing and reappearing during the “Masquerade” number, just to name a few errors. These tiny details made a huge difference, and audiences felt like it was sloppy.

Since Hamilton was performed and filmed live without any dubbing, these continuity issues didn’t occur.

That being said, filming the staged musical was not a simple task. “It is a little more challenging in the theater,” Kail noted, “You must also get the stage picture and make sure that the storytelling of the entire group was represented.”

Kail also mentioned how he and Miranda wanted to preserve this particular performance with the original cast of Hamilton. “Theater always disappears. It goes away as soon as the lights come down, whereas cinema, film and television can live on.”

Maybe Phantom of the Opera should be the next musical to get the Hamilton treatment.

Hamilton is available to stream on Disney+. Phantom of the Opera is available to stream on Amazon Prime.


Source: Posted Newsweek Magazine July 13, 2020; retrieved July 15, 2020 from: https://www.newsweek.com/why-hamilton-film-works-joel-schumachers-phantom-didnt-1517030

Yet still, this is not a commentary about Broadway or New York; no, this is about the Caribbean. Hamilton was born and raised in the Caribbean (St Croix and Nevis respectively); writer-producer-actor Lin-Manual Miranda is of Caribbean (Puerto Rico) heritage and a lot of the cast and crew hail from the Caribbean homeland. Hamilton is about more than history, culture and politics; no, it is relevant for an economic discussion as well.

This was the theme of a previous blog-commentary from the movement behind the 2013 book Go Lean…Caribbean. That submission was on January 2, 2019 and it asserted that the arts can truly empower a community – “that a community rallies around art creating a unique energy; and art ‘dynamises’ the community, in a very unique way”. Economic opportunities are the natural progression from organizing the arts and artists. While we cannot be Broadway in the Caribbean, we can better harness (and monetize) the natural talents and genius-qualifiers in our region.

This is where the money and the jobs are

It is only apropos to Encore that previous commentary, from January 2, 2019, here and now:


Go Lean Commentary – Hamilton – “History has its eyes on you”

This is a memorable line from the hot Broadway play Hamilton:

Immigrants, we get things done!

This is what all the rave is about with this fascinating play; it tells the story of America’s founding fathers through the eyes of the immigrant experience. (This writer saw Hamilton on December 28, 2018 at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Ft Lauderdale, FL).

As was true with all these founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton was White; (“Bastard son of a Scotsman”); Aaron Burr was White; so too George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others portrayed in this song-and-dance production. But all the participating actors – in the Broadway edition, plus all the other touring companies – are Black-and-Brown minorities – many of them immigrants themselves.

The theme of Hamilton – historic immigrants thriving in America – aligns with the 2013 book Go Lean…Caribbean. The book was written and published by members of the Caribbean Diaspora living and thriving in America. There is a full acceptance that Caribbean immigrants can thrive in the US, as did Hamilton in his historical context. But many more immigrants arrive everyday, and there is now less tolerance for them, especially for those of the Black-and-Brown populations from the Caribbean. In fact, the current President of the US, Donald Trump, even derisively referred to Haitians as coming from a “shit-hole” country.

So while we can thrive, the question – by the movement behind the Go Lean book – is whether we should. The Hamilton play makes this point, as was related in a previous Go Lean blog-commentary:

When the word got around, they said “this kid is insane, man”
Took up a collection just to send “him” to the mainland
“Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came”
And the world gonna know your name …

It is an established fact that any difficult topic can be more easily communicated if backed-up by a catchy melody and rhyming words. An underlying theme of Hamilton is that nobody does it alone, there must always be community help and support; its like a community investment. There should also be a return on the investment. This point was communicated brilliantly in this news-commentary by a Social Justice Advocate; she stated that “self-made men are never independent of others’ help”. See the full article here:

Title: History Has Its Eyes On Us: Lessons from Hamilton the Musical
By: Courtney Kidd LCSW
Obsession. That’s the only way to describe the feelings of Hamilton followers, and once you’ve seen the show you’d understand why. Hamilton is a punch in the face, spellbinding transport through the life of one of the least well-known founding fathers, but by far one of the most interesting. And the best part? It’s done through the lens of hip-hop music and a cast of almost exclusively non-white actors-including our own dear Alexander Hamilton. While this caused confusion for some, who began to question their 8th grade history memory, it stands as one of the most powerful examples of today’s racial divide and the movements to correct it.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical going into the play. My friend and I had gotten tickets when they first went on sale almost 9 months before opening night. We saw it in its first month on Broadway after the success off-Broadway. I remember sitting in my chair prior to the curtain rise, uncertain of whether I’d like a modern take on a history. Could it reach across the aisle of race? Could it hold attention of a subject most forget about? Would I get it? Did I really wait 9 months and spend hundreds of dollars for something that might just be weird? It took exactly 1 minute until those questions left my mind and instead I was entrapped, enamored, enthralled with this play that lives up to one of the numbers “non-stop.” It was a non-stop journey, filled with humor, and anguish, and longing. I was converted. I was in love.

I went to see it a second time a few months, later, unable to wait until the soundtrack was finally released, I bought a resale ticket at far too high of an amount for my poor social work status. But I had to go, the play had brought about a plague within me; this wasn’t just a good show, it was something far beyond. Much like its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, I began what has still been obsessive task of reading book after book on Hamilton, and the rest of those influential individuals who shaped the country. I wake up with the music in my head, and despite my best efforts, can’t stop listening to the songs. And then it hit me. This isn’t just a great musical and it’s not just because it is new and different, it’s because despite almost 300 hundred years since this man stood with the revolution, its relevant. And not in the way you think.

Over the past few years we have seen a second wave of the civil rights movement in America. Sadly, Despite the year, minorities, immigrants, and even women are still seen and treated differently than the white male counterpoint. Feelings and reactions peak and overspill in areas like Ferguson and Baltimore. Huge movements such as Black Lives Matter rise up demanding justice in the country that fought and promised a land of freedom and equality. Hamilton isn’t just play to see, it’s a needed reminder. Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant who fought for the revolution, becoming one of Washington’s most trusted aides, rising to one of the highest positions in our military and later our government. From a remarkably young age, he was an abolitionist in a time when that word would be as shocking as to claim you’re an alien. He never allowed his birth and his circumstances to define him, and instead fought his entire life for the beliefs he had, including a strong central government and financial plan that allowed America to be self-sufficient and play with the “big boys” for trade and commerce. Hamilton saw first-hand the potential risks of weak governments while dealing with the military forces. He understood even then that we had to be the United States in order to succeed in this revolutionary experiment. And he wanted those rights for every individual who was here.

Hamilton was a true American Dream hero, but despite what a lot of modern people claim, self-made men are never independent of others’ help. Many wish to believe that they rose to where they are because only due to their remarkable abilities, and for some that is true, but much more often than not there was help along the way. Our founding father is no exception. Although known as a uniquely bright youth on the island of Nevis where he was orphaned at a young age, Hamilton might never have risen to the station he once held without the help of many. Yes, he showed himself to be a studious and adept learner when put in charge of the local trading company-and may have stayed on as a success employee had the Hurricane not hit Nevis with a colossal force. Hamilton, always a writer, penned a poem of what he witnessed, and a local man who believed Hamilton had the capacity for more forwarded it to the influential of the island. Despite the devastation they made an investment in one of their own, raising enough to send our future Secretary of Treasury and war hero to the colonies(America) to pursue a real education. To sum up, if those with means didn’t decide to put forward an investment for an orphan with potential Alexander Hamilton would have mostly likely lived his life and died having never left a small, impoverished island. For a poor, orphan of questionable birth and heritage, that would not have left many surprised, and yet the island rose together to support him.

We’re looking at a similar issue in today’s world. Do we invest in the future, on education, on sustainability for those who can go on to do greatness despite the circumstances of their birth, or do we claim that we got to where we were without assistance from anyone? Hundreds of years after Hamilton discussed the need for equality we are still in the midst of revolutions to save the ideals of our nation. Each person is shaped by those around them, and it is of no surprise that the haves are able to gain a lot more opportunity than the have-nots. For this reason, many assume it is laziness that prevent people from working their way up. Hamilton was the antithesis of lazy, but if it wasn’t for one influential patronage who connected him to the elite, our country may never have gained the footing it needed to be a competitive economy.

We have a responsibility to those around us and who come next to shape the world into a better place for us all, not just for ourselves. We saw yesterday what happens if we don’t stand against those who would spread hatred, and instead hold onto love. As Mr. Manuel so eloquently put:

“…We chase the melodies that seem to find us until they’re finished songs and start to play when senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day. This show is proof that history remembers. We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger. We rise and fall, and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer and love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside…”

And if you need more convincing, join me in line for some tickets to Hamilton, you won’t be disappointed(seriously if you know how to get reasonable tickets you know how to contact me).

“I consider civil liberty, in a genuine unadulterated sense, as the greatest of terrestrial blessings. I am convinced, that the whole human race is intitled(entitled) to it; and, that it can be wrested from no part of them, without the blackest and most aggravated guilt.”- Alexander Hamilton

*Authors note*- Should Mr. Miranda see this, congrats on the Grammy, call me for unlimited praise and begging for interviews. Your PR man is too good at polite declines.

**Update- And your UNREAL number of Tony nominations and wins!! [See Appendix below].

Source: Social Justice Solution Online Site – posted February 23, 2016; retrieved December 30, 2018 from: http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2016/02/23/history-has-its-eyes-on-us-lessons-from-hamilton-the-musical/


VIDEO – 70th Annual Tony Awards ‘Hamilton’ History has its eyes and Yorktown – https://youtu.be/5upLudfimso

Undercover Celebs

Published on Nov 4, 2016 – 70th Annual Tony Awards ‘Hamilton’ History has its eyes and Yorktown by the cast of Hamilton at the 2016 Tony Awards where the musical won 11 awards.

The prime directive of the Go Lean book is to empower, elevate and facilitate a better Caribbean society. We want to be able to thrive right here at home – to prosper where planted – thus lowering the motivations to emigrate. In fact, the declarative statements of the prime directive are as follows:

Puerto Rican descendant Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator, writer and original cast member as Alexander Hamilton is well-known for his advocacy for the Caribbean region in general and Puerto Rico in particular. He accomplishes his mission to effect change in the American eco-system through music/song and entertainment. The book Go Lean…Caribbean strives to accomplish its mission with the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). Lin-Manuel Miranda is hereby recognized as a role model that the Caribbean can emulate. He has provided a successful track record of forging change, overcoming incredible odds, managing crises to successful conclusions and rebooting failing institutions. See these previous blog-commentaries that detailed his accomplishments:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=14101 Wait, ‘We Are The World’
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated several Caribbean member-states; Puerto Rico was gravely impacted. In the mode of ‘We Are The World‘, many artists – led by Lin-Manuel Miranda – assembled and recorded a song to aid Puerto Rico, entitled ‘Almost Like Praying‘ by Artists for Puerto Rico.
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7963 ‘Like a Good Neighbor’ – Being there for Puerto Rico
he US Territory of Puerto Rico needs a Good Neighbor right now. They do not need State Farm; they need the US Government to change the laws to allow them to re-structure their heavy debt “load”. In effect, this community is in crisis, facing financial disaster and needs a helping hand. Lin-Manuel Miranda was on a mission to help Puerto Rico by getting Congress to change Bankruptcy Laws to apply to PR again.

Mr. Miranda has now retired from performing in Hamilton

… but atlas, he will reprise his role for the highly acclaimed Puerto Rico run in January 2019. See more on that story here:

Title: Puerto Rico Engagement of HamiltonStarring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Will Sell $10 Tickets Through Lottery and Rush

Sub-title: Over 10,000 tickets will be released through the popular #Ham4Ham initiative, exclusively to island residents.

The upcoming Puerto Rico premiere of Hamilton, in which Tony- and Pulitzer-winning creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will reprise his performance in the title role, will offer island residents a chance to purchase tickets priced at ten dollars.

As previously reported, the blockbuster musical will play San Juan’s Teatro UPR at the University of Puerto Rico (Río Piedras Campus) January 8 through January 27, 2019, before the company (sans Miranda) embarks on a third national tour. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

A total of 10,000 tickets will be sold at the low price in Puerto Rico as an extension of the blockbuster musical’s popular #Ham4Ham initiative, with 1,000 going to college students (with valid ID) for the January 9 matinee. All remaining tickets for that performance and two subsequent Wednesday matinees will be sold for $10 via digital lottery. Over 200 tickets will be sold to residents via lotto for all other performances.

“Bringing [Hamilton] to Puerto Rico is a dream that I’ve had since we first opened at The Public Theater in 2015,” Miranda said at the time of the initial announcement. “When I last visited the island, a few weeks before Hurricane Maria, I had made a commitment to not only bring the show to Puerto Rico, but also return again to the title role. In the aftermath of Maria we decided to expedite the announcement of the project to send a bold message that Puerto Rico will recover and be back in business, stronger than ever.”

Source: PlayBill Magazine – Posted August 28, 2018; retrieved January 2, 2018 from http://www.playbill.com/article/puerto-rico-engagement-of-hamilton-starring-lin-manuel-miranda-will-sell-10-tickets-through-lottery-and-rush

In the CU/Go Lean roadmap to change the Caribbean, music and theater gets it’s due respect. This point is detailed in the  Declaration of Interdependence at the outset of the book, pronouncing this need for regional solutions (Page 14):

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

We are looking forward to more art-based accomplishments: the arts can truly empower the community – “the community rallies around art creating a unique energy; and art ‘dynamises’ the community, in a very unique way”. What more can the stewards of the Caribbean do to effect change in the region using the arts and music? The Go Lean book provides a lot more details on Page 230 under the title “10 Ways to Improve the Arts“; see one detail here:

#1: Lean-in for the Emergence of the Caribbean Union
Embrace the advent of the CariCom Single Market Initiative and the Caribbean Union Trade Federation. This will allow for the unification of the region into a Single Market of 42 million people. This size supports the proliferation of ‘art’ (visual/fine, music, performance & film) as an industry. The CU will promote the art exhibition eco-system – allowing marketplaces for artists to congregate and monetize their talents. Structures will also be deployed for media companies to monetize film & performance art. The CU will facilitate the marketing of travelling exhibitions, and touring companies of stage productions. For the region, art can be a business enabler, and expressions for civic pride and national identity.

“History Has Its Eyes On Us” is the title of a song in the Hamilton Play – see Appendix VIDEO – and also a truism. There are lessons we must learn from the history of Alexander Hamilton. We must, like he did, fight for change and progress; as conveyed in the foregoing article:

From a remarkably young age, he was an abolitionist in a time when that word would be as shocking as to claim you’re an alien. He never allowed his birth and his circumstances to define him, and instead fought his entire life for the beliefs he had, including a strong central government and financial plan that allowed America to be self-sufficient and play with the “big boys” for trade and commerce. Hamilton saw first-hand the potential risks of weak governments …

The Go Lean roadmap accepts that the burden is too big for any one Caribbean member-state alone to effect change, thusly it advocates for a collaboration among all member-states. The strategy is to confederate all the 30 member-states of the Caribbean despite their language and legacy, into an integrated Single Market. The Go Lean/CU roadmap details all the strategies, tactics and implementation to forge the Single Market solutions. With these efforts and investments, the returns will be undeniable. We can dissuade our people from leaving in the first place – Alexander Hamilton never returned to British-controlled Nevis after leaving for college. (He did revolt against the British).

We want change in the Caribbean without a revolt. This was proclaimed from the outset of the Go Lean book:

This movement was bred from the frustrations of the Diaspora, longing to go home, to lands of opportunities. But this is not a call for a revolt against the governments, agencies or institutions of the Caribbean region, but rather a petition for a peaceful transition and optimization of the economic, security and governing engines in the region. – Go Lean book Page 8.

The Go Lean roadmap has a simple quest: make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play. One man, or woman, can make a difference in this quest. Thank you for that model Hamilton. Thank you for that model Lin-Manuel Miranda. Now to foster the next generation of movers-and-shakers, whether it is politically, economically or in “song-and-dance”. We can impact our homeland with many fields of endeavor.

We urge all Caribbean stakeholders – artists and patrons alike – to lean-in to this roadmap to elevate Caribbean society. Yes, we can! Our quest is conceivable, believable and achievable. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix VIDEO – Why History Has Its Eyes On Hamilton’s Diversity | TIME – https://youtu.be/xWrRP6vRGhQ

Published on Dec 15, 2015 – In 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda, a man once not known to many outside his circle of Broadway legions, shed light on another man once not known to many outside a circle of knowledgeable historians. But Miranda took one of America’s founding fathers and turned him “and thus, himself” into a star. The Broadway show Hamilton uses rap and hip-hop to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton’s rise to power during the American Revolution. The show broke multiple records for its cast recording and notched record-breaking sales of $32 million before it even hit Broadway. But the cast makes history in different ways, too, with men and women of color playing characters who were all white. There’s an African-American Vice President Aaron Burr, a biracial George Washington and a Chinese-American Mrs. Alexander Hamilton. Subscribe to TIME ►► http://po.st/SubscribeTIME

Category: News & Politics


Appendix – 70th Tony Awards

The 70th Annual Tony Awards were held on June 12, 2016, to recognize achievement in Broadway productions during the 2015–16 season. The ceremony temporarily returned to the Beacon Theatre in New York City after three years at Radio City Music Hall and was broadcast live by CBS.[1] James Corden served as host.[2]

Hamilton received a record-setting 16 nominations in 13 categories, ultimately winning 11 total.[3] The revival of The Color Purple won two awards. The Humans won four awards, and the revival productions of plays Long Day’s Journey into Night and A View from the Bridge each won two awards.

Source: Retrieved December 31, 2018 from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/70th_Tony_Awards

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