Hamilton movie, on Disney Plus July 3, gets you ‘best seat in the house’
Do you have plans for July 3rd? I get dressed, heels and everything, go to my couch and stream. The Broadway hit was filmed for three days in 2016 at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York. Lyricist and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, rapper Daveed Diggs, and the rest of the original cast, including Okieriete Onaodowan, Phillipa Soo, and Anthony Ramos, still told the story of Alexander Hamilton, the U.S. founding father.
I’m excited to see how Hamilton’s “live capture” version compares on a small screen with the live performance that I had in San Francisco last January with a different cast and a much higher price than the monthly Disney subscription fee Plus seen.
“One of the things we’ve always come across on Broadway is how unaffordable Broadway was for many people,” said actor Daveed Diggs, who played Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, during a zoom press conference with the Hamilton team on 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 later than the current release date. But the team now felt amidst the many cultural limitations of thewas the right time. “Not only is there no Hamilton, but there is no live performance either,” said the director. “There are no concerts. There is no Broadway. There is no regional theater.”
Miranda, who wore a hat because he said it was “very bad quarantine hair”, insisted on democratizing the Hamilton experience. Even after a five-year run on Broadway and several productions of the show that are being performed simultaneously, the Grammy, Emmy, Pulitzer, and Tony award winner believes that between July 3-5, more people will see Hamilton on Disney Plus than you have already seen it.
You don’t have to worry about being on time in the theater, parking is not a problem, and you will probably feel more comfortable at home than in a theater seat with limited legroom. But how much live energy can this recorded performance actually capture?
“The job for me was to create a document about what it felt like to be in this room,” said Kail. “This is not an attempt to be the show. This is a separate experience, and I think we tried to accept the love we have for the theater.”
For the final version of this film, Kail explained, the team recorded two live appearances. The show never stopped while filming, with cameras in the audience. Kail also had some time in the theater with no audience. The film team was able to jump on stage for these recordings and use stable cameras as well as cameras on cranes and dollies.
“It’s better than the best place in the house in Hamilton,” said Miranda. “Tommy deliberately breaks the proscenium in places.”
The film was shot 10 months after the singing of the cast for the Original Broadway Cast Recording and after numerous appearances on Broadway. Miranda joked that Hamilton was the best rehearsed film ever, “outside of certain David Fincher scenes, perhaps.”
Hamilton’s response today
But the Hamilton crew is aware that for some, this is more than just a piece. They sought to comment on protests against racism and demands for social justice that have taken place in Minneapolis police custody around the world since the death of a black man, George Floyd.
“I am very excited to see how [the show] inspires this movement, “said Onaodowan, who played Hercules Mulligan and James Madison.” I look forward to young children who are out there, who are upset and angry. You can observe this and realize that you can use your energy by writing, challenging the people who tell you things you don’t like to hear as Hamilton. ”
Soo, who played Eliza Hamilton, underlined the relevance of such a diverse cast, especially for younger audiences. She talked about young people with color, young Asian women and young women with different backgrounds and thanked her for being part of a stage group that looked like her. “It is always good to remember this version of yourself when you were that person and how it felt to look up to the people you had your first artistic experience with,” she said.
As for the future of Hamilton, Ramos has an idea of what might come next: a real film musical adaptation. “We did In the Heights,” 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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