What’s waiting in ‘Hamilton’s’ shadow?

The new Broadway show “Hamilton” is in previews now at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City on July 22, 2015. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

By Emily Steinhardt

Rose Alvarez from “Bye Bye Birdie.” Adelaide from “Guys and Dolls.” Cassie from “A Chorus Line.” Penelope Pennywise from “Urinetown.” Friar Lawrence from “Romeo and Juliet.”

These are all characters I’ve played in a space that means so much to me: the theater.

I’ve been involved with theater since the fourth grade when I was orphan Duffy in “Annie.” As any theatrically inclined 10-year-old would be, I was very upset when I didn’t land the title role. Nevertheless, I carry fond memories from that show since I had my first singing solo in it.

I frequently attend master classes in New York City where I get to work with Broadway professionals one on one. The classes are open to a wide range of people, so I interact with theater lovers of all ages.

But it always upsets me when I attend these classes, and the younger students only seem to know and care about “Hamilton.” If you ask them about a classic musical, such as “Little Women,” they look at you like you’re crazy and speaking gibberish.

“Hamilton,” a musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is very worthy of all the praise it receives. It is a show that consistently sells out all 1,321 seats at the Richard Rodgers Theater where it is running.

There is also no denying that “Hamilton,” a musical inspired from Ron Chernow’s book about Alexander Hamilton’s life, is a revolutionary (pun intended) show.

It is changing Broadway for the better by introducing audiences to more diverse casts, a new style of music that is fast paced and keeps them engaged the whole show, and a theme that doesn’t follow the typical Broadway show formula: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy falls in love and gets girl back, the end.

Yet the thing that makes the show so incredible is that it mixes styles from the golden era of musical theater with hip hop, there is a wide variety of music for everyone to love.

In short, “Hamilton” was just what Broadway needed because it seized the attention not just of the Broadway community but the entire nation.

But “Hamilton” isn’t the only eye-opening show out there. Many shows this season are equally as revolutionary and aren’t being recognized by the general populace.

Take the new musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” for example.

This show follows a teenager, Evan Hansen, who has a social anxiety disorder. He invents himself to be a hero after someone in his grade commits suicide, and has a letter on him written for Hansen about how he only has one friend. Hansen wrote this letter because his therapist thought writing to himself might help with his anxiety.

The classmate found it on the school printer the day before he killed himself therefore people assume he wrote it. Instead of telling the truth, Hansen decides to bask in the glory of being the dead kids “only friend.”

“Dear Evan Hansen” is so important because it has taboo topics and songs that chill audiences to their core. It feels fresh, and audiences never want to look away.

Another show making an impact this season is the revival of “Miss Saigon.” Set during the Vietnam War, this show explores the relationships that formed between GIs and South Vietnamese women, the unexpected families that started and were abandoned when the war was over, and the sacrifice some mothers made so their children could live better lives in America.

The performances in this show makes audiences feel like they are watching a very private moment of someone’s life. No one leaves the show with dry eyes because they leaves feeling so moved.

Obviously “Hamilton” is an incredible show, but it doesn’t explore all the gritty topics that other shows do.

Contact Emily Steinhardt at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

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