In a town named for a Revolutionary War hero, a musical about a Revolutionary War hero should make some history of its own beginning Wednesday in the Tanger Center.
The touring mega hit “Hamilton,” conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda, tells the story of the man on the $10 bill … set to a hip-hop beat.
Inspired by the 2004 Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow, Miranda wrote the play, composed the music and originally appeared in the title role.
The real-deal Hamilton’s life was remarkable in itself. He was the first secretary of the treasury. He was a founder of the Federalist Party, a founder of the nation’s financial system, a founder of the U.S. Coast Guard and even a founder of a newspaper.
As a military officer, some accounts speculate, he once was invited to serve as an aide to a general named Nathanael Greene. He declined.
As for “Hamilton” the musical, you may have heard: This isn’t your granddaddy’s take on U.S. history. “Hamilton” is the rousing, decidedly untraditional story of one of our Founding Fathers, infused with rap and R&B and performed by a cast of mostly nonwhite actors.
People are also reading…
Presented in two acts, the play, which premiered off-Broadway in 2015, has been a popular and critical phenomenon ever since. It was nominated for 16 Tony Awards and won 11, as well as a Grammy and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, among numerous other honors.
The key to Hamilton’s success is not only the quality of the singing, the rapping and the dancing, but the universality of its appeal.
Paul Oakley Stovall has seen the scope of that appeal firsthand from onstage in his role as George Washington on the current national tour.
“And not just for the history and being young folks,” Stovall told the News & Record’s ’s Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane. “It’s also because they can see themselves on stage, which they don’t often get a chance to do.”
“Hamilton” features the Marvel’s Avengers of early U.S. history: Hamilton, Washington, King George III, Aaron Burr. And it’s so engaging and relatable that it attracts audiences of all ages, many of whom are neither history buffs nor traditional fans of Broadway plays. The songs (“My Shot,” “The Room Where It Happens” and many more, 47 in all) are infectious.
Fans have been known to camp out overnight for tickets, just as folks do in Krzyzewskiville for Duke-Carolina. Small wonder. The Durham Performing Arts Center sold out 32 performances of “Hamilton” in 2018.
And now the current national tour, the play’s third, finally arrives in Greensboro.
On Wednesday, “Hamilton” will begin a run of 24 performances in 19 days at the 3,023-seat Tanger Center.
When the city’s new performing arts center still seemed only a hope and a prayer, one of the visions of what could be begins tonight: “Hamilton” on North Elm Street.
Zack Matheny, president and CEO of Downtown Greensboro Inc., said last week that the center city was eagerly bracing for impact.
Odds are that “Hamilton” will surpass even the most successful productions that have appeared at the Tanger Center during an inaugural season in which the venue has easily fulfilled, if not passed, nearly every expectation.
For some perspective, the hit show “Wicked” attracted audiences totaling 66,000 in October. Filling all Tanger Center seats for 24 performances would bring more than 72,000 people downtown during “Hamilton’s” nearly three-week run.
And having all those people in town over and over for that many days and nights will be a wonderful “problem” for the local economy: more traffic; harder-to-get dinner reservations; scarcer parking.
This means a spike in business for restaurants and hotels, among other businesses.
Again, for some perspective, “Wicked” generated an estimated economic impact of $12 million.
“Hamilton” represents the pinnacle of an opening year that already has earned the Tanger rave reviews for its design, its programming, its operations and its attendance. According to a data tracking system called Placer.ai, about 262,000 people visited the Tanger Center between Sept. 1 and Feb. 4, compared with about 250,000 at DPAC, Matheny said.
Now comes Wednesday night, when the curtain will rise on the biggest attraction there yet.