Tuesday, January 16, 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
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

MIAMI — The idea seemed outlandish, maybe even impossible at the time: a one-man play about Miami’s infamous Cocaine Cowboys of the 1980s. Some 15 years ago, the Miami-raised Billy Corben was deep into research for what would become Coca...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

HUDSON —If you saw the musical Pippin when it first hit Broadway in 1972, or a high school drama club version, or even a touring company rendition a decade ago, it’s not exactly the Pippin you’ll see if you’re wise enough to go see the spectacular mo...
Published: 01/15/18
With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

An actor famous for playing a radio station manager will star this week in the world premiere of a radio play.Mike Hammer: Encore for Murder brings Gary Sandy, who played Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati, to Ruth Eckerd Hall. And the star power was ...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18
Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

If you’re already singing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack alone, why not meet like-minded folks and do it together?A Hamilton singalong goes down tonight at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library in Tampa. Fans will gather to sing the entire — y...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium

Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium

ST. PETERSBURGThe dancers kept moving, spinning, pausing for arabesques or stretches. Over most of a December afternoon at the Mirror Lake Studios, they rarely stopped, whether rehearsing specific routines or not.Choreographer Lauren Ree Slone also m...
Published: 01/11/18
Canadian cops hunt former Opera Tampa maestro Daniel Lipton in connection with sexual assault

Canadian cops hunt former Opera Tampa maestro Daniel Lipton in connection with sexual assault

Daniel Lipton, Opera Tampa’s most recent artistic director, is being sought by Canadian authorities in connection with a sexual assault.The alleged assault took place in the late 1980s, a woman the Times is not naming told the Hamilton Police Service...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18
Master chorale and visiting artistic director Doreen Rao part ways

Master chorale and visiting artistic director Doreen Rao part ways

TAMPA — The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay has ended its relationship with visiting artistic director Doreen Rao. The announcement on Tuesday continues an ongoing uncertainty about leadership for the chorale, which has not had a permanent artistic direc...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/10/18
Show Palace features Pippin

Show Palace features Pippin

HUDSON — The Show Palace Dinner Theatre opens 2018 with a local production of the 1972 Broadway musical, Pippin, which runs evenings and matinees Jan. 13 through Feb. 18. The ensemble performance features an acrobatic troupe led by a charismatic "Lea...
Published: 01/09/18
Jahja Ling and his pianist wife, Jessie Chang, delight with Sibelius and Beethoven

Jahja Ling and his pianist wife, Jessie Chang, delight with Sibelius and Beethoven

TAMPA — With a genial wave and a smile, the Florida Orchestra’s second music director greeted a Tampa Bay audience, the kind he used to see over 14 seasons. By the time Jahja Ling left the area in 2002, the orchestra had more than found its footing. ...
Published: 01/04/18
Updated: 01/06/18