The insanely popular Lin-Manuel Miranda hip-hop musical “Hamilton” made its Utah touring Broadway premiere at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City Wednesday night.
It was just a matter of hours from the time tickets first went on sale until the entire run of the show sold out, demonstrating just how profound the love of “Hamilton” is right here in Utah. But Utahns aren’t particularly unique in their love of the show. The original off-Broadway debut was extraordinarily received, and the popularity only burgeoned when later in 2015, the show made its first appearance on Broadway. It went on to garner nominations for an astonishing 16 Tony nominations with 11 wins and the honor of a 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The production shows no signs of slowing down, so, in honor of its’ Utah debut, here are a few reasons why Utahns in particular might love “Hamilton.”
-- Kari Kenner
Utah loves the arts
It’s no secret that Utah is a mecca of sorts for the arts, with an extremely impressive variety of talented artists in theater, dance, music and more finding their start right here in the Beehive state. With such a strong appreciation for talent in all its forms, it’s no wonder the state is listed among the musical’s biggest fans. Acting, musicality, lyricism, diversity and more provide a strong foundation for the show, offering up ample talent for fans to glom on to.
Utah loves Lin-Manuel Miranda
It’s been nearly five years since the Hale Center Theater in Orem first offered up the Utah County premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first original production, “In the Heights,” which debuted locally to extraordinarily positive reviews. But that’s not the only pot Miranda has his finger in. The composer and actor has appeared in a variety of popular television shows and is well-known for co-creating the soundtrack for Disney’s “Moana,” one of the studio’s best received films in recent years, and one that is especially popular in Utah.
Utah loves the past
With family history giant Ancestry.com based in Utah, as well as a strong love of family history among members of the state’s most dominant religion, it’s easy to discern that Utah has hefty ties to the past and a desire to delve into history. And, well, that’s the entire basis for “Hamilton.” Though artistic liberties were obviously taken, the show tells of the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers. It puts a creative spin on the history of the United States, and makes it something that is also applicable today.
Utah has ample ties to the show
Though none of the action of “Hamilton” takes place in Utah, the state has plenty of ties to the show, including local actors who performed in the original off-Broadway and Broadway casts, and artists who have toured to Utah for performances after appearing in the show’s original casts. “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda himself even recently made a stop in Utah to discuss his career and the show’s success at the Qualtrics X4 Experience Management Summit at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City in March.
Utah needs to know: nobody’s perfect
For many in Utah, toxic perfectionism is a sincere problem, with depression and anxiety sweeping the state like a plague. Though theater can often provide a brief reprieve from the hounding realities of life and feelings of inadequacy, “Hamilton” takes things a step further, by showing that nobody is perfect.
America’s founders in particular have become paragons of virtue in many ways, and “Hamilton,” in its own unique way, strips those false realities apart and shows that even this people, who are held in such high esteem historically, had issues, and were far from perfect.
Utah has a strong interest in current affairs
Whether you overhear conversations out in public or take note of the impressive number of online stories detailing national news, it’s easy to see that Utahns have a desire to stay informed, and strong interest in current events. Though “Hamilton” is undoubtedly a story of America past, there’s also no question that the show taps into many topics that are still pertinent in America today, including immigration, American leadership, cooperation and passion.
Utah is leaving its bubble
Utah has long been known for its bubble of cultural goodness, largely because of the dominant nature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state. But as time goes by, bit by bit Utah is popping that bubble and leveling with other states in the nation on many issues, whether it’s ready for that or not.
That’s also a dominant theme in “Hamilton,” with innovative storytelling and a constant underlying challenge to what people think they know about history and America’s founding. With an emphasis on diversity, the show dive into the importance of passion, determination and standing up for what you believe.