SALT LAKE CITY — Attendees of all ages flocked to the downtown Eccles Theater Wednesday, filling its spacious lobby before the opening night curtain of “Hamilton: An American Musical.”
After more than a year of anticipation, “Hamilton” has made its Utah premiere.
Based on ticket sales, the Eccles Theater will continue to be packed through the show’s monthlong run, which concludes May 6. Tickets sold out within just four hours when they went on sale Feb. 9.
“I think all of our friends tried and failed,” said Tory Martin, of Bountiful, who ended up getting tickets through her friends in the local theater scene. “It was either get tickets here or fly to New York.”
Martin brought her son, Myles, to Wednesday’s premiere. She said it’s been fun passing on her love of “Hamilton” and its history to him.
“Because he never really found out about Hamilton in school, other than that he founded the treasury,” she said. “But you didn’t know his background, where he came from, how he ended up being who he is. And that is a really neat experience. And then it’s just so catchy, that you have to sing the experience the entire time.”
During a visit to Salt Lake City last month, "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda said the musical started after he read Ron Chernow’s 2005 biography of Alexander Hamilton. The idea of incorporating rap/hip-hop, Miranda said, came from the volume of words in Hamilton’s speeches.
Colin Holmes, of Cottonwood Heights, attended opening night with his wife, Tiffany, and said he admires Miranda’s ability to pack so much substance and content into one show.
“It surprises you how well everything fits, and how well you’re able to glean a story from a musical that’s mostly rap and R&B,” he said.
Salt Lake resident Benjamin Luks-Morgan said he and his wife have listened to the “Hamilton” soundtrack “way more than we should probably admit to.”
“I find it to be musically way more engaging than it would seem at first glance, which is why I keep listening to it,” he said.
“Hamilton” made its Broadway premiere in 2015, and went on to win 11 Tony Awards, as well as the 2016 Grammy Award for best musical theater album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It also made its U.K. premiere last November, winning seven Olivier Awards after earning a record-breaking 13 nominations.
The musical’s first U.S. touring production kicked off in March 2017 in San Francisco, with a second touring production launching in Seattle last February. These two touring productions are running concurrently.
Collectively, it has put Miranda at the center of pop culture in a way quite rare for someone in modern Broadway.
“I don’t know that anyone could have executed it the way he did,” Luks-Morgan said. “You watch in public interviews, and he just seems like he’s operating on a level of creativity and intelligence that no one else is doing.”
The Eccles first announced the “Hamilton” shows in March 2017. In the months that followed, a number of “Hamilton”-themed events and programs came to Utah, including the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts’ New Nation Project, which gave 250 free “Hamilton” tickets to various local high school and charter school students.
The Hamilton Education Program, which incorporates Alexander Hamilton- and Founding Fathers-themed education into high school history class curriculum, came to Utah beginning last fall. More than 2,000 Utah students and teachers were involved in the Hamilton Education Program, also known as EduHam. The program was created by Utah native Tim Bailey, director of education for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.