Hamilton, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 2015 and All That Followed

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Lin-Manuel Miranda, who picked up his third and fourth Tonys for Best Book and Score of a Musical, and Cynthia Erivo, who picked up her first Tony for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. Image via Broadway.com.

Well, it’s finally over: Hamilton is no longer eligible for theatre awards, with the exception of a few Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards. Over the last year and a half, the show has won Lucille Lortel Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards, Drama League Awards, Drama Desk Awards, New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, Off Broadway Alliance Awards, Theatre World Awards, Obie Awards, Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, Grammy Awards,Tony Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize. And I’m not even naming them all.

The Tonys are Broadway Christmas. And similar to the actual Christmas in December, I tend to be pretty sad once it’s over. The night before the Tonys, I realized that 24 hours from then it would be over, and I got sad. I’ve been looking forward to that night for months, and then in three short hours, it would be over. But still, I sat on my couch, glued to the screen for those hours. I watched every second of it – commercials and all. It was the best Broadway Christmas ever.

James Corden was an entertaining and classy host, choosing to cold open the show with an address to Orlando. But then, the show was on the road, and he shuffled through twenty different references to shows in his five-minute opening number. Tony history was made

when all four musical performance awards went to black actors (more awards in one night than the Oscars have handed out to black actors over the last nine years), and my predictions on Show-Score were 79% correct (19/24… Hamilton missed one creative arts

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My Show-Score prediction results. Suck it, 21,524 other people!

category and I missed predicting some play categories). Cynthia Erivo brought the house to its feet when she performed a portion of “I’m Here” from The Color Purple (watch it PLEASE). For Hamilton‘s standalone performance song, they did two songs that hadn’t yet seen the light of television: “History Has Its Eyes On You” and “Yorktown.” Though they generally perform these songs with prop muskets, they left them out, and millions of people listened to Hamilton command his troops to “take the bullets out your gun.”

When they began the In Memoriam segment at 9:55 (local time), I knew the show was going to run long. Usually this isn’t a problem for me: more Tonys? I’ll take it. But there was something happening at 10:10 that really required my undivided attention. The next batch of Hamilton tickets were going on sale.

A few weeks earlier, I took a leap of faith and booked a trip to New York for my fiancé and I over my reading week in February. I figured I’d try for Ham tickets, and if not, we’d go and have a great time anyway. I was way more chill on the outside than the inside about this. At 10:09, I was sweating. I had two separate browsers open on my laptop, another on a different computer, and the Ticketmaster app on my phone open. I missed Hamilton getting the Best Musical award entirely. As soon as the awards ended, I ran downstairs to be next to my router and I started waiting in the virtual queues.

“Please sit tight, your wait time is around nine minutes.” Those are my least favourite words in the world, or they were that night. I refreshed over and over again, but I couldn’t get through to tickets on either of the computers. And yet, my phone was still loading. And then, there they were: two seats, house left back orchestra. I’ve never watched my phone so much in my life. It took maybe fifteen minutes for the whole transaction to go through, but I wasn’t kicked out of the queue. I got my email confirmation. And I’m going to go see Hamilton on Broadway.

My Tony high was never lost after all. I woke up the next day and cried, because I saw that email confirmation in my inbox and it was real. It’s still real. It’s like when I saw *NSYNC when I was seven – I don’t think I’ve wanted tickets to anything as much since then. And although some of (if not most of) the original cast is leaving when their contracts are up in July, that’s somehow even more exciting for me – I’ll get to see a new cast’s interpretation of this story.

2017 is shaping up to be a big year for me. I’m graduating from two different post-secondary schools. I’m getting married. And I’m seeing Hamilton.

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Diana’s Top Ten Tony Award Performances

It’s June, and it seems like the warm weather is finally here to stay. What have I been doing with my summer so far? Well, I’ve been writing my novella  (10,600+ words so far!) and I’ve been on YouTube. A lot. I’ve watched every Side by Side by Susan Blackwell video (which I suggest you do too) and I’ve watched twenty years of complete Tony broadcasts. This blog post might have eaten up the most time of all my blog posts, but it’s only because once I settled on my top 10 performances, I had to go back and watch them all again. As one does.

In no particular order, here are ten of my favourite Tony performances of all time.

“Hair” from Hair, 2009

Will Swenson. Gavin Creel. Caissie Levy. Sasha Allen. AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION. Immediately following this performance, Hair won the Tony for Best Revival. Duh.

“Anything Goes” from Anything Goes, 2011

One of the most classic musicals of all time can still be resonant, especially when Sutton Foster is your leading lady. Although I love Patti LuPone as Reno Sweeney too, I love the sound of tap shoes, and this performance has way more dancing. And THAT NOTE at the end (SUTTON!).

“Willkommen” from Cabaret, 1998

I’m a little bit obsessed with Alan Cumming (I was up late last week watching his Broadway.com vlog from two years ago that I didn’t know existed), but it’s undeniable that his Emcee redefined Cabaret and nearly every Emcee after 1998 has been modelled after him. Cumming reprised his role in the 2014 Broadway revival (opposite Michelle Williams, Emma Stone, and Sienna Miller, in turn) and was equally as charming.

“Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George, 1984

This show (revivals included) has won exactly two Tonys: for scenic design and lighting design. WHAT. Yep, Mandy Patinkin only has one Tony (for Evita) and Sondheim didn’t win diddly. Well, he won the Pulitzer for Sunday. I love this show so much that it’s a major player in my book (coming soon!) and even though there aren’t any road trip sing-a-long numbers, “Sunday” has got to be one of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre.

“Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy, 2008

Here she is, boys! Here she is, world! Here’s PATTI! If I’m a little obsessed with Alan Cumming, I’m completely obsessed with Patti LuPone. I just finished reading her memoir (Patti LuPone: A Memoir) and she’s been through a lot, you guys. She bookends her story with the opening and closing nights of Gypsy, and she gives her all in this performance.

Corner of the Sky”/”Magic to Do” from Pippin, 2013

Let’s just all take a minute and appreciate Patina Miller’s biceps. Ahhh.

“A Musical” from Something Rotten!, 2015

I looked at a few webpages ranking the 2015 Tony performances, and most of them had this at the bottom. You crazy. This was the first show to perform, and I couldn’t think of a better way to open the show. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? This song is super catchy, the show is hilarious, and it’s a much-needed original show in a world of existing source material. Bonus points if you can catch all the references to other shows!

“Being Alive” from Company, 2007

Company is one of my favourite shows. Sondheim put it this way: “Broadway theatre has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we’re going to bring it right back in their faces.” Raúl Esparza is incredible as Bobby and I’m still mad he didn’t win for this (I’m still mad he doesn’t have a Tony period).

“And I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls, 1982
The greatest Tony performance ever.

Bonus: “It’s Bigger!”, 2013 Tony Opener

I didn’t consider this a performance per se because it’s not from one of the nominated shows. But this opener was written by our friend Lin-Manuel Miranda and it won him an Emmy. I’ve watched every Tony ceremony dating back to 1995 (thanks, YouTube) and this is by far the best opening number ever.

Now that you’re caught up on its history, check out MusicalTheatreMash’s survival guide,  fill out your Tony ballot and you’re ready to go! See you June 12!