Last year with a “click” and a “BOOM” the world was introduced to Broadway’s newest sensation, Hamilton. The musical is an adaptation of the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. With a racially diverse cast and hip-hop inspired songs, including two rap battles between Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, the play is breaking the stereotype that “the Great White Way” is only for stuffy, snobbish types. Hamilton is appealing to audiences everywhere, but with the number of fans growing it is becoming increasingly obvious how inaccessible plays like Hamilton really are.
Broadway’s and Hamilton‘s problem is exclusivity. The theatre has long been a source of entertainment, but only for those who are able to fit the bill. Aside from the fact that Broadway is exclusively in Manhattan, attending the theatre is not cheap. Tickets on average cost anywhere from $99-$200. Hamilton itself is sold out until September, with resell tickets going for prices as high as $1,500. These plays have fans whose numbers reach in the millions, but because of these factors only a portion of fans can physically see a show. With Hamilton increasing in popularity, illegal tapings of the show, called bootlegs, are being sought after by fans who can either not travel to New York or pay the high price of a resell tickets.
Writer, director and star of Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda, spoke out against bootlegs last year saying, “I’m sorry theater only exists in one place at a time but that is also its magic. A bootleg cannot capture it.” Miranda, although against illegal tapings, expressed his desire last year for Hamilton to be professionally filmed and commercially distributed. This would be the best step for Miranda and Hamilton, because releasing the show on DVD or streaming would turn a profit while also cutting down on bootleggers and give his work more exposure.
In a report published in 2010 by NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, it was found that during two live screenings of the National Theatre in London, an estimated 50,000 viewers, along with the 14,000 that were sitting in the theatre, experienced the production, Phedre, across Europe and North America. It was also found that the cinema audiences said they were more likely to visit the theater in the future. In 2011 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra began doing series of free live webcasts and saw attendance jump from 50 percent to 90 percent, and in 2015, DSO CEO Anne Parsons said that ticket sales and attendance were still on the up-and-up.
Although Miranda has made Hamilton accessible via ticket lotteries and a studio recorded soundtrack, fans just want the opportunity to be in The Room Where it Happens whether they’re actually sitting in the theatre or not. For now fans are left Helpless wondering What Comes Next? in the development of a professionally filmed Hamilton production. Hopefully Miranda will Blow Us All Away soon with the announcement of a production date.