‘As popular as Les Miz’: Hamilton producer feels American history musical will appeal to S’pore audience
For those concerned that Hamilton may be too heavy on 18th-century American history and that its themes may not resonate with a Singapore audience, the producer behind the award-winning Broadway musical believes its appeal cuts across cultures.
Based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography, Hamilton tells the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and his involvement in the American Revolution and the political history of the United States.
Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s global phenomenon has received an array of accolades, including 11 Tony Awards, seven Olivier Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album.
It will be staged at the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands from April 19 to May 26. General sales begin on Tuesday at 10am.
The Singapore stop follows its sold-out debut in Manila in September and an upcoming season in Abu Dhabi in January.
In an e-mail interview, American theatrical producer Jeffrey Seller – best known for his work on Tony-winning musicals such as Rent (1996), Avenue Q (2003) and In The Heights (2008) – describes Hamilton as a “quintessential American musical” and “an expression of our greatest impulses and values as Americans”.
Yet, the US and Singapore share “heterogeneity” and “diversity” in common.
The 59-year-old says: “Though Singapore is a small country, it is a mighty one made up of immigrants from many places who are coming together to make a vital metropolis.
“We (the US) are the same thing on a larger scale, and the desire to build something that will outlast us is a universal yearning that applies everywhere we go.”
Bringing Hamilton to Singapore makes perfect sense, Seller says, as the Lion City is a cosmopolitan nation-state that has embraced Broadway musicals.
He is also confident it will enjoy a popular reception similar to that of the beloved classic Les Miserables, which is set in early 19th-century France.
“None of us knew that much about the French Revolution, but it was the story of redemption that was so powerful. Similarly, Hamilton is the story of building a nation and realising our goals as a people. It is a musical about how I can make myself into a new man – and that journey is universal.”
Seller assures that Singapore audiences will see the exact same Hamilton that is performed on Broadway every night. “We do the same Hamilton all over the world,” he says.
It will be led by Australian actor Jason Arrow from the musical’s tours in Australia (2021 to April 2023) and New Zealand (May to June 2023), who plays Alexander Hamilton. He is now performing the role in Manila.
Filipina singer-actress Rachelle Ann Go – who played Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth Schuyler in the musical’s West End run – will reprise the role in Singapore, while American actor-singer DeAundre’ Woods portrays Hamilton’s rival Aaron Burr.
Woods was from Hamilton’s US national tour, and is now treading the boards in Manila.
New Zealander Akina Edmonds from the Australia and New Zealand tours will play Elizabeth’s sister Angelica Schuyler, while American actor Darnell Abraham – who was from the US national tour and is now playing the part of George Washington in Manila – will bring his performance to Singapore.
Hamilton’s score, he notes, draws heavily from hip-hop, rap, jazz, soul and rhythm and blues, which he terms “American music”.
Rap, for instance, has a very precise rhythm, and not all singers are capable of delivering it. So the team was very specific in its casting to ensure that all the performers who rap are experts at the task.
“Other than that, our show is a wonderful conglomeration of many musical forms and of the many talents of our Broadway performers. Being able to sing in all of those musical forms is one of their great attributes.”
Where: Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
When: April 19 to May 26, 8pm (Tuesdays to Fridays), 2 and 8pm (Saturdays), 1 and 6.30pm (Sundays)
Admission: $80 to $280 via the Marina Bay Sands website (str.sg/iNDG), Sistic (go to sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555) and Klook (str.sg/iNDp)