Can you still get a ticket? And 9 other answers to your ‘Hamilton’ questions

How does a fast-talking, awesome Broadway show — a hip-hop history of the American revolution — still going gangbusters, known around the world, immortal and beloved, find itself in Hartford in December?

The national tour of the musical theater sensation “Hamilton” finally arrives at The Bushnell for a three-week run Dec. 11 to 30. After so many months of hype and anticipation, there are a lot of questions on theatergoers’ minds. Or, as the villainous King George imperiously inquires, “What comes next?”

We know how it sounds, but how does it look?

If you’ve heard “Hamilton”’s original-cast soundtrack album — still in the top 40 charts over 150 weeks after it was released — you’ve heard the entire show. The musical is “sung through,” which means there is no additional dialogue in between the songs. What the live version adds is an extraordinary amount of action. Characters come bursting onto the stage. There are elaborate full-cast dance numbers. The lyrics “rewind, rewind” in the song “Satisfied” make a lot more sense when you see it done live — the actors walk backwards and restart the memory-laden love scene as if a video was being rewound.

Is Lin-Manuel Miranda missed?

Writer, composer and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda created the role of Alexander Hamilton for himself, playing it off-Broadway for four and a half months in 2015, then for the first year of the show’s Broadway reign. He’s gearing up to play Hamilton again in January for a special production in San Juan designed to raise funds for arts education in Puerto Rico.

The number of different performers who’ve been in “Hamilton” is still fairly small — only half a dozen different Alexander Hamiltons have been on Broadway. Miranda and director Thomas Kail personally oversee the cast changes. Austin Scott, who will play Hamilton in Hartford, says “I learned the show in New York on the Broadway set.”

Reviews and online chat rooms have praised Scott’s singing, as well as his delivery of both comic and dramatic dialogue. Washington Post critic Peter Marks reviewed the tour in June and wrote "I believe that even Miranda ... would acknowledge that Scott has much more in the pipes department than he. This vocal upgrade affords a new appreciation of the 34 songs and musical sequences in the nearly three-hour show."

Scott has been with “Hamilton” for a year and is leaving the tour in January shortly after the Hartford stop.

Multiple choice: Test your knowledge of 'Hamilton'

How does the tour differ from the Broadway show?

Besides Broadway, “Hamilton” currently has standing productions in Chicago and London, plus two national tours dubbed the “Philip” and “Angelica” companies. Hartford is getting the “Angelica” company.

Each “Hamilton” company apparently has its own personality — Chicago’s, for instance, is considered the “earthy” or “energetic” one.

Asked for the distinctions of the touring company that’s playing Hartford, star Austin Scott says, jokingly: “We’re the tall company, I know that!” Then adds, “We’re one of the younger companies.”

Scott says the main differences in the various productions come from how the individual performers can react to each other onstage.

“It can be a look, or a way of standing. Motivations for saying a certain line can change. They give us a lot of room to make the characters our own.”

The costumes, staging, choreography musical arrangements, lighting and all the other design details of “Hamilton” are the same for every “Hamilton” company.

There have been some major changes to this touring company’s cast in recent months, including new performers in the roles of Eliza Hamilton (Hannah Cruz), Aaron Burr (Josh Tower), Angelica Schuyler (Stephanie Umoh), Lafayette/Jefferson (Bryson Bruce) and George Washington (Paul Oakley Stovall).

In talk show appearances, Miranda has described how certain jokes and plot points play very differently in England than they do in the United States. Scott says that on the tour, “every city has its own personality. It has kept us on our toes. In Atlanta, there was screaming and hollering. In Washington, D.C., they were more reserved, quiet.”

What are the show’s hottest moments?

For some, it’s the first appearance of the rapid-rapping Marquis de Lafayette (originally played by Daveed Diggs and played on this tour by Bryson Bruce); the same actor returns in the second act for similar speed-rapping as Thomas Jefferson.

Others are in the thrall of the heartbreaking ballad “Dear Theodosia.” The highest comic moments tend to belong to the prissy King George, who has a funny way of showing the colonies his “love.” There are compelling romantic scenes, including a career-killing adulterous affair. Political squabbles in the nascent U.S. government are as action-packed as Revolutionary war battles. “Hamilton”’s intelligent and philosophically strong final song, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” examines the very idea of how history is made.

But Scott says the entire show has a surefire energy. “They did such a good job crafting it that from the very first moment, everybody is on you. People are just so excited to be there.”

What are the show’s Connecticut connections?

“Hamilton” takes place during the American Revolutionary War and its aftermath. Connecticut had a lot to do with that war. George Washington slept here. Samuel Seabury, who sings the “Hamilton” song “Farmer Refuted,” is buried at St. James Episcopal Church in New London. As for the show itself, Miranda and the show’s director Thomas Kail both attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, which now bestows an annual “Hamilton Prize for Creativity.” Miranda and Kail’s first Broadway hit “In the Heights” — which won four Tonys — was workshopped at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford.

How did ‘Hamilton’ happen?

The best-selling book “Hamilton: The Revolution” describes how Miranda, a history buff, took a copy of Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton on vacation. Miranda was amused that the names of some of the Revolutionary War heroes, such as Hercules Mulligan, sounded like modern hip-hop stars. Ideas kept coming, and Miranda envisioned a concept album called “The Hamilton Mixtape.” He premiered a song from it at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word in 2009, attended by Barack and Michelle Obama. The first workshop of what became the “Hamilton” musical was at Vassar College in 2013.

How’s The Bushnell handling ‘Hamilton’?

Heroically and responsibly. The theater has had well over a year to prepare for the crowds (including thousands of new season subscribers). The first challenge — ticket sales — went smoothly. Now come the actual performances, with the enhanced safety precautions that mark any manifestation of “Hamilton.” Tickets are double- and triple-checked inside the theater to deter scalpers. Metal detectors have already been in use for other Bushnell shows this season. Bags will be searched, so ticket-holders are asked to arrive early due to the security screenings.

What are the ‘Hamilton’ spin-offs?

The success of the “Hamilton” musical has led to increased attention for Ron Chernow’s much-lauded biography “Alexander Hamilton,” which inspired Miranda’s musical. There has also been the best-selling “Hamilton: The Revolution” coffee-table tome, the soundtrack album, the “Hamilton Mixtape” album (which has major pop, rap and hip-hop stars covering the show’s songs), the PBS documentary “Hamilton’s America,” the forthcoming touring art exhibit “Hamilton: The Exhibition” and numerous parodies. A movie version is in the works.

Before The Bushnell run, the theater is is hosting a Dec. 8 concert by Leslie Odom Jr., who originated the role of Aaron Burr in New York. Odom will be accompanied by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. On Nov. 26, The Bushnell held a lighthearted, fan-friendly “Hamiltunes” sing-along featuring Broadway performer and Playbill columnist Seth Rudetsky.

Other local theaters have gotten into the act. In September, Sea Tea Comedy Theater on Asylum Street welcomed the New York troupe North Coast with its show “Anybody: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera.”

That show is built around a different celebrity biography at each performance, with numerous blunt references to “Hamilton”’s style and structure. In Hartford, the audience-suggested subject was Muhammad Ali, and the deep-voiced musical lyric that brought down the house was “…And I’m the Parkinson’s that killed him.”

In the hip-hop spirit of sampling and respecting one’s spiritual forebears, “Hamilton” contains sly references to classic musicals from “The Pirates of Penzance” to “South Pacific” and “1776,” as well as to rap songs as diverse as “The Message,” “Going Back to Cali” and “Ten Crack Commandments.”

Is there something for everyone?

To quote a lyric from “A Winter’s Ball”: “What do we have in common? We’re reliable with the ladies!” “Hamilton” may be a male-driven musical set in the chauvinist era of early Washington, D.C., but the show contains several strong roles for women, notably the tight knit Schuyler sisters Angelica, Eliza and Peggy. A multicultural attitude is essential to the show, which casts African-American, Hispanic and Asian actors as the (white, European) Founding Fathers and proudly extols the virtues of “Immigrants — we get the job done!”

There’s even a generational flow to “Hamilton”: Alexander Hamilton’s 9-year-old son raps, and while some of the characters die young, others live to further the tale of American’s early growing pains and Hamilton’s own long-lasting achievements. And of course “Hamilton”’s musical score knows no genre boundaries, from rap and hip-hop to modern pop and traditionally styled show tunes.

Also “Hamilton” runs an educational outreach program for kids called “EduHam.” “Hamilton” tour star Scott says “EduHam is one of my favorite things that ‘Hamilton’ does. The schools teach history using ‘Hamilton,’ then the students get to come see the show.” Dozens of schools throughout Connecticut were selected for the program. Students will attend a special Dec. 13 performance.

Any hope of getting a ticket?

All 23 Hartford performances of “Hamilton” have been sold out, but a special lottery is run for each stop on the tour through the hamiltonmusical.com website. Daily drawings are held, with winners given an opportunity to purchase a pair of tickets (at just $10 per ticket) for the following day’s performance. Some returned or unused tickets may find their way back to The Bushnell’s box office. Check for availability at bushnell.org or call the theater’s box office at 860-987-6000.

All the details about the lottery are here.

HAMILTON — book, lyrics and music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Thomas Kail — runs Dec. 11 to 30 at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 7 p.m. There are no performances Dec. 24 or 25 and an added 1 p.m. matinee on Dec. 26. Few if any tickets are available, and can range from $175 to $525. A daily lottery for $10 tickets can be entered at hamiltonmusical.com. Bushnell information is at 860-987-6000, bushnell.org.

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