One of the biggest Broadway musicals in recent history has arrived in Anchorage.
“Hamilton” starts its 30-show run Thursday at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. The musical was a national sensation when it first hit the stage in 2015.
Based on Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography, “Alexander Hamilton,” its story and music were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. But “Hamilton” was unlike any musical that preceded it.
Rapped and sung throughout, the show portrays Hamilton’s life through the American Revolution through the formation and infancy of the United States. The production features actors of color portraying nearly every character in the cast, including other Founding Fathers and major historical figures.
In fall 2015, Miranda told The Atlantic: “This is a story about America then, told by America now and we want to eliminate any distance between a contemporary audience and this story.”
The show was brought to the state by Broadway Alaska, a partnership between the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and The Nederlander Organization, which operates nine theaters on Broadway and over a dozen touring venues in the U.S.
Three more musicals — “Come From Away,” “Six” and “Aladdin” — are part of this season’s Broadway Alaska schedule, which stretches into April 2024.
The story follows young Hamilton as he meets Aaron Burr and other future revolutionaries, joins the revolutionary army and comes into the orbit of Gen. George Washington. As the first act winds down, Hamilton is involved in forming the fledgling U.S. government and is named treasury secretary by Washington. The second act continues to examine both his personal and familial relationships, as well as his continued role in America’s early evolution.
Aside from Burr and Washington, the musical’s characters include other historical figures, such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and King George III.
While much of the show’s story is based in fact and at times uses language taken from original texts, the show’s historical accuracy isn’t absolute: Critics have denounced some of the musical’s unbridled lionization of Hamilton as well as dramatic license taken with some historical details.
“Hamilton,” which is still in the midst of a run on Broadway, ranks among the most decorated Broadway shows. It dominated the Tony Awards in 2016 with a record-breaking 16 nominations, earning 11 wins — the second most in history behind “The Producers,” which bagged 12 wins in 2001. The first national “Hamilton” tour came in 2017.
Codie Costello, president and chief operations officer at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, said “Hamilton” is the rare musical whose appeal crosses age groups, and cultures.
“There’s nothing like to when you see multigenerational attendance at an event,” Costello said. “You see people’s paths crossing that, if they were out at the grocery store, they may not necessarily engage with one another. But they come here to the performing arts center and they share an experience and then they’re out in the lobby and they’re talking about it and they’re having a shared experience.”
Anchorage audiences seeing “Hamilton” can expect the two-act musical to run for nearly three hours, which includes a 15-minute intermission.
The music in “Hamilton” was considered groundbreaking when the show debuted in early 2015. An amalgam of hip-hop, pop and R&B with a showtune spirit, the music and lyrics for all songs were written by Miranda. The “Hamilton” cast album, released in 2015, was a smash hit, reaching No. 1 on the Rap Albums chart.
For the Anchorage production, each of the two acts includes 17 musical numbers. Up first is the show’s acclaimed titular song, “Alexander Hamilton,” an opening salvo that draws audiences into the character’s early life. Audiences can also expect to groove, hum and bop along to songs such as the catchy anthem “My Shot,” the sardonic King George III tune “You’ll Be Back,” and the contemplative closing number “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.”
Miranda played Hamilton when the musical debuted on Broadway but handed off the role to other actors for later performances, and for most of the show’s traveling productions.
For the Anchorage shows, Pierre Jean Gonzalez will play Alexander Hamilton. Other featured actors include Deon’te Goodman as Aaron Burr, Marcus Choi as George Washington and Candace Quarrels as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.
In total, the cast features 38 members. Costello said there are three productions of “Hamilton” touring the country presently, and the one performing in Anchorage is the Philip Tour.
How to see the show in Anchorage
Starting Thursday and running until Sept. 10, the Anchorage run features 30 performances over the course of 25 days. According to Costello, the seating chart for the Broadway performances in the Atwood Concert Hall is 2,001 attendees at capacity. So, to sell out the entire run of “Hamilton” shows would be 60,030 total tickets.
Subscription packages are available for all four Broadway Alaska shows. Individual tickets start at $49 and the premium seats are $179. Costello said that’s a fairly standard range for a Broadway show “when you look at what Broadway typically goes for, whether it’s touring Broadway in different markets or in New York.”
Some opportunities for discounted tickets are available. Through the official “Hamilton” app available on iOS and Android, people can enter a lottery that offers winners up to two tickets at $10 each for specific showtimes in Anchorage. Each week’s lottery opens Friday at 10 a.m. and closes Thursday at noon for the following week’s shows, and up to 40 tickets for each show are available through the lottery discount system.
Alaska students, including college students, can purchase $29 tickets by visiting a promotion page and using the code HAMSTUDENT. The UAA Concert Board is also providing some discounted tickets for students for four showings, on Aug. 22, Sept. 1, Sept. 5 and Sept. 8.
Alaska’s teachers, including professors and faculty at colleges and universities, can purchase $49 tickets. Broadway Alaska and Alaska Center for the Performing Arts are providing information to school districts and postsecondary institutions with details on the tickets.
Costello said they’ve also offered some discounted tickets through partnerships and other avenues; for example, Alaska Airlines recently had a discounted ticket promotion for Club 49 members.
Group tickets are available for parties of 10 or more. An application is available on the CenterTix website.