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Arts & Entertainment

Be in the room when “Hamilton” happens in Richmond

Richmond prepares for the national tour of the hit Broadway musical, “Hamilton” as it takes the Altria stage from Nov. 19 to Dec. 8. Virginia Museum of History and Culture has hosted two events in honor of the musical’s arrival, including a fireworks extravaganza with Tony Award-winning actor Chris Jackson. 

Capital News Service



By Christopher Brown

Richmond resident Cat Peddicord never thought a song from the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” would have her sitting in the freezing cold on a Saturday night. Yet, Peddicord and her dad came out to the Diamond baseball stadium to watch selected songs from her favorite musical become a firework spectacle.

“‘Hamilton’ was actually the first thing that introduced me to Broadway, so it’s kind of like a big thing for me to be here,” Peddicord said.

Almost 600 fans joined Peddicord and her dad at the stadium; bringing blankets and buying hot chocolate to help endure the chilling temperatures.

The Broadway musical premiered in 2015 and through rap and song tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, America’s “ten-dollar founding father without a father,” and his rise from the West Indies to U.S. Congress.

First lady of Virginia Pamela Northam and Tony Award-winning actor Chris Jackson, who starred in the role of George Washington in the original Broadway cast, were in attendance. Jackson described combining fireworks and music from “Hamilton” as genius and said that events like Saturday were similar to a church experience.

 “It’s allowing our spirits to be open and exposed, and to feel something that maybe we don’t allow ourselves to feel in our everyday lives,” Jackson said.

Fans who purchased VIP tickets had the opportunity to meet Jackson before the event. Before the firework show, Northam, on behalf of the governor, declared Nov. 16, “Hamilton Day” in the commonwealth.

During the performance, fireworks were timed according to a selection of songs from the soundtrack. Songs like “Alexander Hamilton” and “One Last Time” were cut short to meet the number of fireworks being used.

The event was hosted by the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibit “Founding Frenemies: Hamilton and the Virginians,” which explores the relationship between Hamilton and Virginia’s key founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

“We have been looking forward to ‘Hamilton’ coming to Richmond for months since it was announced,” said Tracy Schneider, VMHC’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We thought it would be fitting if we did something in the museum since a lot of the founding fathers are from Virginia and a part of the show.”

Much fanfare has surrounded Altria’s announcement that “Hamilton” will play at the theater Nov. 19 to Dec. 8 as part of the 2019-2020 Broadway in Richmond season. This is the first time the national tour of “Hamilton” will visit Richmond. Previously, the tour held shows in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.

“Thank God,” Morgan Schinkel said. “We’ve been so excited.”

Freelance writer and editor Lia Tremblay said she is excited more local people have the opportunity to see it and to understand why she hasn’t been able to stop talking about the play since she became a fan.

Altria Theater has prepared for the 24-show run since the national tour was announced. Audrey Booth, community and municipal operations director for Altria, said the theater is working with the Richmond Police Department and Virginia Commonwealth University to handle issues like parking prior to the show’s opening. Altria Theater expects to sell over 3,000 tickets per show. Booth recommends that ticket holders arrive early to park in the West Main Street Parking Deck.

Peddicord recommends that people who haven’t seen the musical attend the national tour in Richmond. Tickets can be purchased through the Altria Theater website or at the box office. If fans can’t make it to the Richmond dates, the national tour will head to Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall from Dec. 10 to Dec. 29. The tour also is drawing fans for a second helping.

“I have already seen Hamilton once,” Peddicord said. “It was so amazing. It’s so different listening to the album than watching it live.”

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.