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Hamilton The Exhibition blows into Chicago
by Jerry Nunn
2019-04-30

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After more than two years in the making, on April 27, "Hamilton: The Exhibition" made its world premiere in Chicago at Northerly Island.

Just like the musical's song "Blow Us All Away," this new endeavor from the team promised to do just that. From the hurricane room to the final movie of the cast singing onstage, this warehouse dedicated to unearthing historical facts had a little something for everyone.

The U.S. musical Hamilton was inspired by Ron Cherow's 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda devised the music, book and lyrics, and the Broadway musical went on to receive 16 Tony nominations.

The exhibition expands on Hamilton's universe, with more history and little known facts in a state of the art, 360-degree, immersive experience. The fans have demanded to know more about history after seeing the musical version and this exhibit packs in the information.

Attendees can hear a remastered version of the Hamilton score as they explore the various rooms. Headsets are given out to ticket holders as they enter the exhibit with sensors that play audio as they roam around the various rooms. Windy City Times asked Miranda about recording the audio component to the exhibit and he said, "It was really fun, actually. It was a cast reunion, with original Eliza Hamilton played by Phillipa Soo and Chris Jackson as George Washington all in a room reading the sections."

Miranda stated at the April 26 press conference, "We wanted to thank Chicago with this exhibit that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world because they greeted us with open arms." He joked that the city has the space for it, "I thought this was a tent until I got here yesterday. It's more of an airplane hangar!"

It is public knowledge that Miranda was resistant to the idea of the exhibition, but he explained in front of national reporters that he felt better after finding historians that could help flesh out the story inside of the space. "We wanted stories that were not told in the musical. You can go through this and just hear the music or learn about slavery in the Caribbean during that time or the role of women during the Revolutionary War. It's a chance to go down all of those avenues in a non linear fashion."

Creative designer for exhibition David Korins added, "I was really wrestling with how much of Washington's and Jefferson's story I should have in this. We give five facts in each room. We wanted to make it relatable for someone in 2019."

Miranda followed that with, "It is both frustrating and a sense of comfort that the fights we had in the past we are still having. This is a deeper dive into all of it and a chance to settle some debts, even for people that haven't seen the show."

The team stated that they have no idea of a closing date for the run of the exhibition, although it is planned to tour. The entire exhibition was designed to break down into 80 trucks while the musical tours in just seven trucks.

Today Show meteorologist Al Roker kicked off the ribbon-cutting ceremony by introducing Jeffrey Seller, one of the producers of Hamilton. Seller said, "We are celebrating that history is happening in Chicago. I wanted to put visitors in the middle of things. Let's take people right into the place where Alexander Hamilton worked as a 15-year-old. Why Chicago? As of today, more people have seen Hamilton in Chicago than they have seen it in New York City. Hamilton is not just a Broadway show, but a musical for everybody."

Seller stressed that our democracy is important and he wants this exhibition to educate people about it. He thanked the entire team that worked on the exhibit, such as historian Joanne Freeman, director Thomas Kail and conductor Alex Lacamoire as well as Miranda and Korins.

He then introduced Chicago Mayor-Elect Lori Lightfoot, who spoke about this project making history interesting for everyone. Lightfoot said she has seen the musical four times, adding that her daughter knows every song. She described Hamilton as "an important cultural bonding experience."

Miranda and Korins followed this with the official ribbon-cutting; select guests were allowed to explore the exhibition.

Korins encouraged photos and social media as part of the experience as they are swept up in a hurricane of displays and golden statues in their path.

As people exit the last gallery, a gift shop is outside full of Hamilton merchandise while food and beverages are offered onsite as well. Trolley and buses will bring ticket holders out to the exhibit from various stops along the way to assist with the commute and parking.

The next morning, the snow didn't stop the opening day celebration with Miranda handing out Stan's Donuts from a food truck to lucky fans waiting in line.

Hamilton continues its run at the CIBC Theatre with information at BroadwayInChicago.com; for exhibit tickets, visit HamiltonExhibition.com .

The exhibition is housed at Northerly Island, 1535 S. Linn White Dr.

Tickets at www.ticketmaster.com/hamilton-the-exhibition-tickets/artist/2592204 .


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