Take Notes, Broadway

Sydney Brumfield

Prior to Hamilton’s opening, I had never heard my peers discuss a musical. It was not until recently, however, that I caught “Hamilton Fever” and began researching just how successful the production has become. Hamilton, the musical written and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has made $60,000,000 in its first year alone, which is $4,000,000 more than the hit Wicked made its opening year. Hamilton is currently making $2,454,656 a week. This is nearly $1,000,000 more than most of its competition on Broadway, with the runner ups being The Lion King with $1,812,204 , Wicked with $1,481,062 , and Aladdin with $1,356,518. It is stunning that Hamilton is able to triple the profit of over half the Broadway productions in history, but the reason for its success, I feel, is more simple than one would expect.  

Hamilton’s fame largely stems from the innovative styles it brings to the Broadway scene. With a diverse and gifted cast, incredible choreography, and a suspenseful recounting of a well-known time period, the musical is a true piece of art, set even farther above the rest by the hip hop and R&B stylings of Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Breaking away from the showtune-y music classically associated with Broadway, Hamilton has appealed to the young adults of America by speaking the musical language they love. Hamilton combines a modern style of music, appealing to the millennials, while still achieving a Broadway musical-feel, making it the homerun of current musicals.

To illustrate the new interest Hamilton has created, since it made its debut in February, the number of people buying tickets to Broadway shows has increased from an yearly average of 11.5 million to 13.1 million (The Broadway League).

One can assume that Broadway will want to take advantage of this newfound interest and recapture the attention and admiration of the hearts of America, just as Hamilton has. It may do this by modeling Hamilton’s adoption of modern styles and issues in society today. Miranda, for example, was able to mimic the artistic stylings of many famous modern performers to make the story more relevant, popular, and thus more successful. In one of the show’s opening pieces, “Aaron Burr, Sir”, the character Hercules Mulligan begins his verse by repeating “Brrrap, brrrap,” which is favorite method of imitating machine gun fire with popular rap artists like Jay Z, Lil Wayne, and A$AP Rocky. There are tangible connections between Hamilton’s R&B ballad, “Helpless” and Beyoncé’s hit “Countdown”, such as when the character Eliza Schuyler stresses the syllables of certain words and phrases like Beyoncé.

These observations are not intended to insult the methods of the Broadway classics many have come to know and love. I am calling for the modern generation to create our own new, classics, ones that generations of the future can too grow tired of.