Broadway’s blind side continues to be the enormous and growing audience they don’t consider. Old habits die hard, even when it makes no business sense. And the shock over “Hamilton” just shows how many atrophied heads are still in the game.
I remember the famous story (apocryphal or not) of how someone was cleaning out the literary office at McCarter Theatre and found a yellowing copy of “Rent” that had initially been submitted to them. This is a musical that has grossed hundreds of millions of dollars; a major institution had first crack at it, but didn’t even bother getting around to reading it. McCarter’s loss ended up being New York Theater Workshop’s astronomical gain. But until McCarter and other theaters realize that not looking at new plays is like throwing away a potential “Rent” every year, the revivals will continue. And so will the disbelief over every new “Hamilton.”
Ironically, Hamiltonian’s inclusivity is so attractive that it’s made the show exclusive. The very audience meant to see the show is once again limited by the price point as tickets have skyrocketed to $500 in some cases. There’s a price to pay for being the biggest hit on Broadway, and apparently it’s half your monthly rent.
While this isn’t the fault of “Hamilton”’s producers, who are simply offering tickets at the price people are willing to pay, it does complicate the show’s sense of cultural and class diversity. Miranda has battled against this problem by offering free sidewalk mini-performances before Wednesday and Saturday shows in Ham4Ham.