Hamilton’s moving on up. What would you have done?

There has been a historical amount of buzz about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s The Hamilton Mixtape (the original title) since . . . well, since he first told people he was writing it!  Maestro Miranda had already ushered in a new type of Broadway storytelling with his first show, In the Heights, so the industry was like a kid waiting for Xmas to roll around when we all heard he was putting pen to paper and working on his second musical.

Someone outside the Broadway biz asked me why there was so much attention around the debut of the now titled Hamilton this spring.  I’ve never responded so quickly.  “Imagine if Jonathan Larson had lived to write a second musical.  That’s what we’re witnessing.”

And from what I hear, The Miranda-Man is not disappointing.

So much so that the run at the Public was extended twice, scalpers are charging a cool grand for tickets, and it got across the board raves.

All this success had the Producers thinking like a quarterback who gets ready to take a snap and notices that a different play might lead to a quicker touchdown.

Do they come in early and beat the Tony deadline?  Some people argued that they were guaranteed to sweep if they made a quick transfer.

Do they wait and come in the fall?  Some people argued that letting the run at the Public be the hottest ticket in town would only build buzz and fervor for the fall transfer, guaranteeing a big advance, and giving the creatives time to make the show even more thrilling than it already is.  But what if next season’s landscape changed and another Hamilton-like show surprised the street late next spring?  Do you open when you know what your competition is, or when you don’t?  (Broadway is filled with stories of surprise hits that shocked the pundits, including Rent.)

Or do you do what the Producers of Hamilton actually did and announce the move but open it in the summer?  A time a lot of buzz-fueled shows don’t open, because the early adopter smart and savvy New Yorkers are all in the Hamptons for the summer.

Decisions, decisions, decisions . . .

Just another day in the life of a Producer.

That’s why we’re going to play one of my favorite games . . . You Make The Call!

Let’s all hope that one day you’ve developed a show with such steam that you have to make a decision like this . . . and to train yourself for that day, tell me what you would have done if you were the Producer of Hamilton.  Moved it?  Waited?  Opened in the summer?  Opened next spring?

Comment below with what call you would have made.

And then next season, we’ll watch all the “drama” play out.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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Comments
  • Shane says:

    I’m a fan of the strategy they went with because as much as I loved the show I do believe it could benefit from the extra time to tweak aspects of it rather than the mad rush to get to Broadway for this season.

    I’d only add one extra step to their announced strategy (which is not to say that it isn’t already an unannounced part of their strategy) and that’s use Lin Manuel’s past service to the Tony Awards and the precedent of “coming attractions” performing at last years Tony’s to get to perform on June 7th… can’t think of a better way to guarantee strong ticket sales leading into their previews in July.

  • Jared says:

    I never understood the rush to get the show to Broadway this season. They would have needed to cancel the Public extension, thereby angering a lot of patrons who had already given them money and creating a rescheduling nightmare. There also would have been absolutely no time to make any tweaks or changes, something the show probably doesn’t necessarily need but could still benefit from.

    I might have waited for a more traditional fall opening, but I definitely think the producers made the right call by not trying to rush the show this spring. And I think “Hamilton” is one of the few shows that might be able to sustain a summer opening. They announced while the entire town is talking about the show, and tickets go on sale in just over a week, which I think is brilliant. “Can’t get tickets to see the show now? Well come right over here and purchase tickets to our Broadway run in a few months.”

  • Paul Mendenhall says:

    I think they made the worst possible decision. If you open a show off Broadway, hoping the buzz will propel you to the Street, you take advantage of the momentum and move NOW. But if you are so unsure about the material’s present condition you decide to wait, then wait until people are back in town and wanting to go to the theatre. Opening at the start of the slow season blows the momentum while giving you little time for revisions.

    Personally, I don’t think it will be much of a success with the general public no matter when they open though. Historical subject matter told through rap? Who is the audience for it? I think this is a case of the critics desperately trying to prove their relevance by jumping on what they imagine is the coming thing. Thirty years ago, perhaps. Now it just looks desperate.

    • Kayla says:

      Just curious, have you seen the show? History is definitely not my jam, nor is rap, however I will back the show up and say it’s down right brilliant– and my parents, boyfriend, brother, and non-theater loving best friend agree.

    • Kit says:

      10 Million in advance sales in 11 days. You may be right though… Historical subject matter told through rap? Who is the audience for it?

  • I think they are smart to take their time to get the show right. They look at the big picture. Although it may have been tempting to speed things up, it makes me all the more eager to see it that they didn’t do that.

  • Bob says:

    They made the perfect call — opening in the summer. Who in their right mind opens in the summer? And wins a Tony for Best Musical?

    HAIRSPRAY opened in the summer and ran for 2,642 performances.

    Plus Broadway is so dead (at least in terms of openings/new things) that they are bound to get some really good press (not that they wouldn’t).

    SURVIVOR — you’ve heard of that t.v. series, right — started its first season during the summer of 2000. It caught on and it’s still going strong.

    Brilliant move!

  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    Let’s not forget the most recent hot tickets Title of Show, Next Fall and Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson doing blockbuster business in small venues, but all closed quickly after moving to Broadway where they had to sell five times as many tickets at twice the prices or more. This show as great as it may be, does not have the core audience a Hairspray did. I hope it succeeds. The only people in theatre who dont want that are just waiting for a theatre to become available

    • Kayla says:

      But it does have the success of In the Heights and Lin Manuel’s work as well… [TOS] and Bloody Bloody did not have that kind of broadway power backing it up– at that point Alex Timbers wasn’t as well accomplished and known in the theater community as he is now.

      (I’m honestly not familiar with Next Fall and don’t want to speak for that as well!)

  • Drew Cohen says:

    Jonathan Larson DID write a second musical: RENT. Before that, tick, tick…BOOM was produced at The Village Gate and at Second Stage. Coincidentally, this wonderful, autobiographical show was mounted last year at City Center with Lin-Manuel Miranda playing the lead role of Jon.

  • David Merrick Jr says:

    My father would’ve insisted on an immediate move, creatives be damned!!!!!

  • Jeremy Terry says:

    They should have opened this spring, not because they know their competition but because they can’t count on running on hype. Next year people may be over it and on to something else. The show is popular now, use that popularity when you have it. Don’t plan on using it later, because you just might turn around and find it gone.

  • frank zuback says:

    Even harder to make an informed decision without knowing all the numbers isn’t it?

  • Melissa says:

    After a few months run in a Greenwich Village theatre, Producer Stevie Phillips took “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” to Broadway in June 19, 1978, where it ran for 1,584 performances, was nominated for 16 Tony Awards, winning 5, including best director of a musical for Peter Masterson and Tommy Tune. In her upcoming memoir she credited a quick-thinking press agent for snapping a photo of Jackie O attending a performance. The photo, showing Ms Onassis with the word “Whorehouse” over her shoulder, ran in all the daily newspapers, and the show immediately sold out, transferring to Broadway a few months later. Stevie says the entire process was about 7 months. I don’t know whether to credit Ms. Onassis or the show, but I know what Stevie credits: Publicity.

  • Damien says:

    I would have opened in the summer as they are doing. It means the chances of keeping the original cast bar potential additional star names is higher. Also it will be the hot new show for the huge influx of tourists that hit NYC in the summer.

    I would however have waited to announce until the start of the final week of it’s current run and then put the show on sale the morning after the current run finishes but only at the theatre where every seat in the house would be $50 for the first Broadway Preview. Leave it on sale at the theatre only for the first week before making it available through other avenues. This should hopefully generate a week of publicity regarding the continuous lengthy queue outside the theatre.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda New Yorks brightest Broadway Son gives the people of NYC the first dibs on the Broadway transfer of his new show.

  • Other than beginning performances on July 4, I think that this was a pretty slick move. It feels respectful of the show, and the journey, while insisting on doing whatever they want–which, really, is part of the tenor of the show, too. As terrifying as the transfer in the summer months can be, it would be one heck of a story to be one of the shows that did it–and succeeded.

    I selfishly wanted to see it sweep these Tony Awards, and see it on Broadway immediately–but sometimes the anticipation can create an even more amazing buzz. HAMILTON is worth the time, anticipation, and if I were making the decision, I’d be biting my nails…but standing behind the creatives decision. It will be stronger once it arrives. And that’s what we all want. Good, new, original, brilliant art.

  • Jake says:

    I was shocked when I heard they weren’t going for a quick transfer. With all the hype it’s gotten, I doubt they’d need to make many creative changes to it. However, if they were to miss the Tony deadline wouldn’t they be better off waiting until Spring? What’s the benefit of opening in the Summer? I really don’t understand. It seems silly to me. However, I’m not a Broadway producer… unfortunately.

  • Kayla says:

    I think waiting it out is smart, although I’m not sure about summer vs. fall.

    I saw the 4th preview which was shockingly well polished for a brand new production, and have seen it again since it officially opened. While there’s not a lot of work to be done, giving the show some time to be tightened up, tweaked and giving the creative team some time to figure out that best way to transfer the show to a bigger stage and audience is very smart. In the Heights had some downtime in between the two runs– I saw it off-broadway and many many times on broadway. The changes were teeny tiny but it also gave the show time to be the best production it could be on broadway.

    • Kayla says:

      Also… I think jumping on the Richard Rodgers theater when they could was a good idea and is probably a huge reason why they decided to open in summer when it was a guarantee and not the fall. Because of the raked orchestra it’s a good fit for the productions move from small intimate theater off-Broadway to a larger audience.

  • Mark says:

    They better have a long term strategy to get through the year… A year is a long time… Richard Rodgers is a big unforgiving traditional Broadway house…time will tell. I wish them luck!

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