SAN DIEGO — For a musical that made its Broadway debut nearly five years ago, “Hamilton” has had quite a week or so. (And we’re not even talking about the $2.6 million in weekly box office that the New York production continues to pull in.)
First came ex-national security adviser John Bolton’s suddenly prominent role in the recent impeachment drama via his pending memoir “The Room Where It Happened” — a book apparently titled after a song from writer-composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s megahit musical about a former U.S. treasury secretary.
Then came some news centered more directly on “Hamilton” itself: The announcement that a filmed version of the Broadway production will hit theaters in October 2021.
Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer on “Hamilton” and a longtime collaborator of Miranda’s, had a little something to say about both when we caught up with him during a recent rehearsal break at La Jolla Playhouse, where he’s directing the West Coast premiere of the (potentially Broadway-bound) musical “Fly.”
Of the Bolton book and its title, Seller said: “I don’t even know how to describe it; it’s just strange.”
But the fact the show continues to resonate in the political sphere? That doesn’t seem strange to him at all.
“When ‘Hamilton’ came out, it felt like such a beautiful manifestation of all the great attributes of the Obama era, which I loved so much,” Seller said. “It was a show that was about the history of America, told by all of us.
“And after the election of 2016, ‘Hamilton’ seemed even more important (as a way) to embody the greatest values of our democracy, in a moment when so many of those values were being demolished.
“And now to see the number of times Alexander Hamilton has been quoted in the impeachment trial, and the way politicians like Bolton have appropriated terms from it, just shows how special this show is. It has become so integral to our culture and our art, but also to our political system and our form of government — as a work of history, as a work of politics, as a work of culture.
“And I think it will continue to be instrumental as we move through this era, regardless of how it plays out.”
The “Hamilton” movie — which captures the live stage production rather than adapting the work — was actually filmed way back in 2016, before the original cast began departing.
That means movie audiences will get to see the show, a winner of 11 Tony Awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize, essentially the way playgoers witnessed it when “Hamilton” debuted.
And that was important for Seller and Co. In fact, the producer says, giving a broader swath of Americans a chance to experience “Hamilton” was the reason it was filmed in the first place.
“Accessibility has always been a central pillar and value for Lin-Manuel and Tommy (Kail, the show’s director) and I, and when we hatched this idea to take the time and capital to make this beautiful movie before the original Broadway cast left, we always knew we would sit on it for a certain period of time and then try to figure out when would be the best time to release it,” Seller says.
“This will be six years after we opened on Broadway (by the time the movie debuts). It will be a wonderful opportunity for people who never have a chance to go see a Broadway show — they live too far from San Diego, they live too far from Chicago or Des Moines or Minneapolis,” which are all cities where “Hamilton” has had touring engagements.
“So now this is an opportunity for so many more people to be able to see ‘Hamilton.’ And for that we’re very, very excited.”