The touring cast of the Broadway hit “Hamilton” scheduled a visit to Popejoy from Jan. 19 to Feb. 7, 2021, however, with the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic it is unclear if people will be allowed to gather in large crowds come early next year.
“While it is far too soon to tell whether COVID-19 will affect the performances of Hamilton scheduled to begin in Popejoy Hall on January 19, we know we have a great partner in the production of Hamilton that will do all it can to reschedule those performances as quickly as possible, should our three-week run of the show be closed down due to the pandemic,” Popejoy Marketing Manager Terry Davis said,
Broadway shows in New York City have been shuttered since March 12 and are set to remain closed through at least June 7, and it is likely that the shutdown will continue past that date. Touring shows have also been canceled across the country including Popejoy’s planned performances of “Escape to Margaritaville” and “The Play that Goes Wrong”.
“Hamilton has already canceled performances in other cities across the country with the shuttering of theaters as the coronavirus has made it unsafe to keep going,” Davis said. “That’s true for patrons and performers alike. The producers of Hamilton are working now to find dates to return to the theaters where they have had to cancel their performances.”
These cancelations have impacted theatres across the country with some of the biggest shows on Broadway, including “Beetlejuice” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” deciding they will not reopen after the pandemic.
The virus impacted Popejoy’s budget as well.
“The current slate of cancelations and postponements have hit our budget very hard.” Davis said, “While we don’t have final figures for the fiscal impact, we have had to cancel or postpone almost a third of our 2019-2020 season. Approximately 80% of our budget comes from ticket sales. With that many shows taken off the table, that will have a very significant impact on our budget for this fiscal year.”
Huge Broadway hits like “Hamilton” bring audiences and attention to Popejoy creating more ticket sales and larger audiences for the entire 2020-2021 season.
“We partner with the shows when they come here. While a show like Hamilton can easily project to sell over $1 million a week in tickets here, we will often see less than 5% as our net from those sales,” Davis said. “What a show like Hamilton does for Popejoy is to bring us a lot of attention. As we assembled our season around Hamilton, we felt confident that we would see a significant increase in sales for all of our shows.”
For those who are missing musical theatre and feeling creative during the pandemic, the creators of Hamilton and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History recently released the online curriculum Education Hamilton program or EduHam.
The curriculum is designed for ninth-12th grade but is available to people of all ages. The program allows students to examine primary source documents from America’s revolution and use them to make their own creative works, in the same way that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote Hamilton.
The curriculum has been used since 2016 with students who come to see the shows on trips to New York City, Chicago and various other tour locations. The curriculum was adjusted and released to the public for the first time on April 21.
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According to the EduHam website, “EduHam at Home was created in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak that forced school closures throughout the country. It is an extension of the Hamilton Education Program, which has served more than 160,000 students across the country since 2016.”
Students who participate will be able to post their videos online to share with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of “Hamilton.” The top ten performances each week will be posted and shared on the site and one will be tweeted out by the “Hamilton” team
In his introduction video, Lin-Manuel Miranda said “Over the coming weeks I’m home just like you. I’m looking forward to watching the videos you submit to the Hamilton Education Program website and sharing them with the Hamilton Team.”
This program is giving today’s students a chance to write history with their own spin, to represent the people we see in today’s world using primary sources and creativity.
“Hamilton has been described as “America then told by America now.” Davis said, “If the show and its connected educational program help our nation and our communities better understand that the history of our country belongs to all Americans, that it’s our shared heritage, then it helps the students on our campus and elsewhere find more common ground.”
Loreena Cain is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @loreena_cain