Monday, April 23, 2018
Stage

'Hamilton' is coming to the Straz Center in Tampa

It has long been the hardest ticket to get on Broadway, let alone in Tampa.

But the wait locally for Hamilton finally has an end in sight. A touring version of Broadway's hottest musical in decades is coming to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa during the 2018-2019 season, the center and the show's producers have confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times. Exact dates will be released early in 2018.

The hip-hop musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda about the Founding Fathers, the life of Alexander Hamilton and his feud with Aaron Burr has set box office records, snagged Tony awards and set off an unprecedented demand for more. Hamilton seems destined to outpace previous blockbusters at the Straz, including Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Producers and The Book of Mormon, said Judy Lisi, the Straz's president and CEO.

"This transcends all of them," Lisi said. "I've never seen a show like this. It's beyond blockbuster."

The show is now running long-term in New York and Chicago. The national tour opens March 10 in San Francisco and works its way east, down a list of stops more than three-dozen cities long. Market size and other variables determine the length of bookings, which range from a few weeks to four months. According to Lisi, Tampa's run will last "multiple weeks."

"We all wanted it as soon as we saw what a success it would be," Lisi said. "But there's a lot to put together. The producers were dealing with this enormous show, and it took awhile to figure it out."

But as one of Florida's largest performing arts venues, the outcome was never in doubt, she said. "It was a matter of when," Lisi said.

Other than a current shortage of parking spaces and no clear solution yet, the venue should be ready to accommodate the show. The Straz has recently installed new lighting and sound systems in Morsani Hall, where Hamilton will be performed, and the smaller Ferguson Hall. Workers will replace the Morsani's 30-year-old seats this summer.

Season subscribers and donors have first dibs on tickets, with prime seats going to those who have subscribed the longest, Lisi said.

The venue is not the only tour stop in Florida. In early February, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando announced Hamilton would come to town, but no sooner than October 2018. The Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale has also announced a tour stop in 2018-2019. The Straz reached an agreement around the same time, but has kept quiet about it until now.

The biggest reason was fear of stepping on its own rollout of the 2017-2018 Broadway lineup, which includes musicals like Waitress and The Color Purple, and mixing up announcements about two different seasons. Other venues have done so for that very reason, selling out their season subscriptions as a result, Lisi said.

"We decided we didn't want to (announce Hamilton)," Lisi said. "I thought there would be confusion, number one," she said. "Number two, these other great shows would be overshadowed by the Hamilton effect."

There is one group of buyers that the center wants to keep at arm's length — the automated ticket-buying software, or "bots," that scarf up hundreds of seats within seconds and then resell them at inflated prices. Congress in December passed the Better Online Tickets Sales Act, or BOTS Act, making electronic mass ticket scalping illegal, a move championed in part by Miranda.

The Straz isn't taking any chances, and has bought software detection tools designed to sniff out bots, Lisi said.

"We've seen many sad, sad stories."

Those preparations aside, this show won't be exactly the same one that established the brand. Like all touring shows, the cast reflects varying levels of experience. The current touring cast, which could change by the time the show hits Tampa, contains several members with Broadway credits, including Michael Luwoye, who plays Alexander Hamilton, and Emmy Raver-Lampman, an original Hamilton cast member who plays Angelica Schuyler in the touring show. Rory O'Malley, who played King George III on the Broadway, was nominated for a Tony award for The Book of Mormon.

Lisi believes Hamilton is a game-changing musical worth the wait and effort to see.

"It's one of those watershed musicals that has changed Broadway, the Broadway sound and the Broadway look," she said. "The way it's cast — to see this mix of Americans, every ethnic group you can imagine, playing the traditional roles of Washington or Aaron Burr or Hamilton — it's almost symbolic of who we are as Americans."

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

Comments
Review: American Stage hits ‘The Producers’ out of the park

Review: American Stage hits ‘The Producers’ out of the park

ST. PETERSBURG — Without question, Mel Brooks’ The Producers carved a more indelible mark than most of the musicals in the entire genre of throwaway musicals it parodied.The creator of Get Smart and Blazing Saddles not only co-wrote the adaptation of...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Florida Orchestra puts another exclamation point on its 50th season with Verdi’s Requiem, this weekend’s concert series, a major presentation of an iconic work. Composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem debuted in 1874 but took on a new layer of signif...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

ST. PETERSBURG — In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. The theme for the 2018-2019 season, "A Brighter Tomorrow," color...
Published: 04/19/18
Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

HEAD WAITRESS: DESI OAKLEYThe blue collar mother who drives the plot of Waitress never thought she could win a pie-making contest, let alone start a business."She doesn’t even have the capacity to understand that she could do this," said Desi Oakley,...
Published: 04/18/18
American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

ST. PETERSBURG ­— Think early evening, daylight saving version. The earth turning away, light fading in Demens Landing Park — everywhere except the stage, which is trying its best to resurrect midday. "It looks like New York City at nigh...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

BROOKSVILLE — How about a story about two knights who gain their knighthood, lose it, then gain it back, only to lose it again?That was the concept Kyle Marra pitched nearly three years ago to Randi Olsen, founder and creative director for the Live O...
Published: 04/17/18
Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

TAMPA — Tampa made its cigars with indispensable help from Cuban immigrants. Today, 22 percent of the population is of Hispanic origin, as defined by the U.S. Census. The Tampa Bay area has increasingly and proudly defined itself as a thriving perfor...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Review: ‘I’ll Be Back’ at Stage West mixes creepy with shocking

Review: ‘I’ll Be Back’ at Stage West mixes creepy with shocking

The murder mystery/thriller I’ll Be Back Before Midnight is loaded with potential. Playwright Peter Colley’s spooky, sometimes creepy, script has lots of surprises, scary moments and a few jokes to break the tension.And the production at Stage West C...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Review: ‘Menopause the Musical’ brings the heat to Show Palace in Hudson

For years, Show Palace Dinner Theatre patrons have begged owners Vicki and Tommy Marasciullo to bring Menopause the Musical to their Hudson venue. To be sure, the longtime showbiz couple wanted to, and the 400+ sold-out crowd opening night, followed ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Monthly dessert theatre opens at CARES

Monthly dessert theatre opens at CARES

NEW PORT RICHEY — A collaborative agreement between CARES (Community Aging and Retirement Services) and local entertainer Jimmy Ferraro will bring Jimmy Ferraro’s Dessert Theatre, a series of monthly variety shows, to the CARES Elfers Center stage, 4...
Published: 04/16/18