Performing Arts

‘Hamilton’ is coming to Kansas City in 2018-19 Broadway Across America season

You read that headline right, theater fans. “Hamilton” is on its way to Kansas City.

Here’s what we know:

It won’t be here until the 2018-19 season.

It’ll play at the Music Hall.

Folks who buy season tickets for the 2017-18 season get first dibs on tickets.

Still to be decided: the dates, the length of the run and the cast.

Leslie Broecker, president of Broadway Across America — Midwest, which is presenting the show along with Theater League, said subscribers will have first access to “Hamilton” when they renew for the 2018-19 season.

“Then we will sell season tickets after that and see where it goes from there,” she said. “But it’s important for us and the producers that everybody has good access to the show.”

Season ticket sales have exploded in other cities that have announced the touring production.

“It’s been crazy,” she said.

Speaking of which, isn’t it just a little nuts to buy an entire season ticket for this coming year to have the chance to see “Hamilton” as late as spring 2019?

Yes. Yes, it is.

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But consider this: A single ticket to see the show on Broadway at 8 p.m. next Saturday will cost you between $790 and $2,500 through a ticket broker. And then there’s airfare and lodging and maybe a slice or two of fine New York pizza.

Season tickets for the 2017-18 shows, meanwhile, range from $195 to $460 (through BroadwayinKC.com or 816-421-7500). And, while subscribers wait for next season to roll around, they get to see “Finding Neverland,” “Waitress” “The Lion King,” “A Chorus Line” and “The Color Purple” — with optional add-ons or substitutions of “Les Miserables” and the Beatles-themed “Let It Be.”

“People are seeing season ticket prices in some cities that are equal to what some people are paying to see the show in New York and Chicago for a single ticket to that show,” Broecker said. “I think people are seeing the great value and the opportunity to see it in their city, buy a season ticket, support the arts and with it comes ‘Hamilton.’

For those who don’t pay attention to worldwide theater phenomena, here’s what you’re missing: “Hamilton” is the Pulitzer- and Tony-winning hip-hop Broadway musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

It tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary War hero, the first U.S. Secretary of Treasury and foe of Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

The show, which premiered in New York in 2015, leads the Broadway box office most weeks, even though most of the original stars left the show after the Tonys last summer. The popularity of the show even intrigued then-Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, who attended a performance in November and afterward received a plea of tolerance from the cast. “Hamilton” also has road company productions in Chicago, Los Angeles and London.

When it comes to phenomena like this, Broecker reached way back in her memory bank for that big singing kitties musical in the 1980s.

“A lot of people make funny faces when I say ‘Cats’ was the first mega-musical, but, frankly, ‘Cats’ was a show that brought people back to the theater — it was one of those must-see shows,” she said. “And I would say after that ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was the next one that sold out season tickets and was sold out months in advance and drew people from all corners.” (A reworked “Phantom” opens at the Music Hall Feb. 8.) “Then on the heels of that, I guess I would skip forward to ‘Wicked,’ which continues to do incredible business. And I think ‘Hamilton’ is very much like that.”

Broecker said the goal for the “Hamilton” tour is to closely replicate Broadway. That’s a priority for the “Hamilton” creative team and Miranda himself.

“Because this is his child and this is a project that that whole team is so proud of and have worked on for so long, there is no doubt that he — as well as the original producers and I’m sure the entire creative team — will have a voice in the creation of the tour,” she said.

One big difference, however, will be the size of the venue. On Broadway, “Hamilton” runs at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, which seats 1,319. The Music Hall seats 2,400 — more than a thousand more. The Music Hall also is an older venue than the 1,800-seat Muriel Kauffman Theater at the Kauffman Center, which also hosts touring Broadway shows.

But Broecker said the choice between the two came down to simple economics, an explanation that made sense hypothetically to Kauffman Center President and CEO Paul Schofer. Over, say, an eight-day run, Schofer said, a show like “Hamilton” could sell 5,000 more tickets at the Music Hall.

“If they feel comfortable they can all be sold out, it’s a pretty easy financial decision,” Schofer said. “Obviously, the costs are going to be significantly higher, as well. I always thought if ‘Hamilton’ came here, it would be a challenge for it to land over here (at Kauffman). I’ll be in line to get tickets with everyone else.”

Staging the show at the Music Hall comes with some challenges, Broecker said. It doesn’t have some of the amenities of a brand new venue. But it has served Broadway Across America well over the years.

“The building is terrific,” she said. “Every now and again we have to make some modifications — I’m making some modifications right now to ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in order to get some set pieces in. But the building is always very gracious in accommodating us.”

For “Hamilton,” she said, casting decisions are well in the future.

“My guess is even when this tour launches, actors will come and go,” she said. “I think it’s probably one casting agents clamor to get their hands on.”

And so will audiences. The show’s relevance to the current times, using a diverse cast and music that appeals to a young audience, made it a no-brainer for a touring show.

“Diversity is very important in our business, as is bringing in younger theatergoers, because we want them to grow up and become ticket buyers,” Broecker said. “But the history and the cool factor of the things that you learn in this show — it’s layer after layer, like four musicals in one. You’re so busy trying to catch up and keep up with what’s going on, and at the same time, ‘Darn it, you’re learning something.’

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