My current obsession is the soundtrack to the Broadway musical Hamilton. If you’re reading my blog then I suspect you are in some way a theatre person, and so I will assume you’ve heard of this show. If you haven’t yet listened to the soundtrack, I suggest you do so right away. I don’t usually connect with musical theatre soundtracks if I haven’t seen the show, but this one hooked me from the beginning. It’s really something extraordinary, and for a whole bunch of reasons that would make a swell separate post, but which I probably won’t write because I’m not going to New York any time soon.
No. Here’s what I’m thinking about: The Broadway run of Hamilton is currently sold out for the next three months. It is so popular that before every performance, they hold a lottery for $10 front row tickets. Large crowds gather outside the theater, and members of the cast, along with occasional guests, come out and entertain people while the drawing takes place. All of this is extraordinary to me. You see, I think of my hometown, Chicago, as a theatre town. There’s TONS of theatre here. Literally hundreds of companies producing all over the place. But I don’t think we’ve ever had anything that inspired that level of enthusiasm and excitement among our audiences. I suppose the Hypocrites have come close. The 12-hour epic All Our Tragic sold out both of its runs, and its Gilbert & Sullivan shows remain popular. But I’m not aware of any show since I’ve been in Chicago that had crowds gathering outside hours before showtime just hoping for a chance at a ticket.
So I have questions. Is Hamilton really that much better than anything we have going on in Chicago right now? (It might be. Like I said, that sound track is really good.) Are theatre audiences in New York just that much more enthusiastic? Is it just the quality of the show that inspires this kind of response, or is there more to it? If so, what?
In short, what can I do to inspire Hamilton-level enthusiasm in Chicago audiences? Because the idea of showing up at my call time and getting to wade through a crowd of excited theatre-goers who are hoping to be one of the lucky ones to get the last few remaining tickets that day… well that sounds pretty great.
Okay. Back to work.