Heather Cook of Lowell saw "Hamilton" inLondon.
Heather Cook of Lowell saw "Hamilton" in London. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Amidst much anticipation, "Hamilton" arrives at the Boston Opera House for a run from Sept. 18 through Nov. 18. A mega-hit musical phenomenon, it has been close to a sellout for months.

The biggest thing on Broadway in years, it's like "Cats," "Phantom of the Opera," "Les Miserables," "Rent" and "The Lion King" -- on steroids.

"It's history meets hip-hop and pop culture permeates the past, as revolutionaries spit rhymes, aristocrats throw down and politicians turn up," Michael Gioia wrote in Playbill before the show's 2015 off-Broadway premiere.

Creator/composer/lead actor Lin-Manuel Miranda came up with the idea for his groundbreaking show about Alexander Hamilton after reading Ron Chernow's award-winning biography on one of America's most intriguing Founding Fathers.

Andrew Cook and Katie Durkin of Lowell saw at "Hamilton" in New York in February. COURTESY PHOTO
Andrew Cook and Katie Durkin of Lowell saw at "Hamilton" in New York in February. COURTESY PHOTO

Hamilton's life story is the stuff of great drama, something Miranda instinctively knew.

The guy whose face is on our $10 bill, Hamilton was born out of wedlock in the Caribbean in 1757. Orphaned as a child, he was adopted by a businessman from the Colonies and emigrated to America before the Revolution.

Smart, hard-working, charming and ambitious, he was a Revolutionary War hero and trusted aide to Gen. George Washington. He co-authored "The Federalist Papers," was America's first secretary of the Treasury and became embroiled in America's first political sex scandal. And then he was killed, a young man in his 40s, in a notorious gun duel with his rival, Aaron Burr.


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Sean Daniels, left, and Veronika Duerr of Lowell with "Hamilton" creator/composer/ star Lin-Manuel Miranda on stage of "Hamilton" in
Sean Daniels, left, and Veronika Duerr of Lowell with "Hamilton" creator/composer/ star Lin-Manuel Miranda on stage of "Hamilton" in New York in 2016. COURTESY PHOTO

"'Hamilton' works because there is no distance between this story that happened 200-some-odd years ago and now," Miranda said in a published interview.

Miranda tells Hamilton's story with hip-hop and rap music -- a style that has made young people huge "Hamilton" fans. And the show's color-blind casting features African-American, Asian and Hispanic actors as the nation's Founding Fathers and Revolutionary patriots.

"It looks like America now, creating a connection that wouldn't have been there if it was 20 white guys on stage," Miranda told his interviewer.

Greater Lowell fans are on a "Hamilton" high. They get why it has been a huge sell-out off-Broadway and since its transfer to Broadway, where it won 11 Tony Awards in 2016, plus the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Susan Julian Gates and her niece, Lily Julian, saw "Hamilton" in New York in early August.
Susan Julian Gates and her niece, Lily Julian, saw "Hamilton" in New York in early August.

Sean Daniels, Merrimack Repertory Theatre's artistic director, marvels at the play's "truly original take on a tale we all knew or knew part of."

"Most theater in America claims it's focused on 'reinventing the classics,' but when was the last time you saw something truly reinvented?" said Daniels, who saw the original Broadway cast, with Miranda in the lead, in January 2016. "The idea of diverse voices as we tell the story of how our country was founded by immigrants hoping for a better life -- it's the perfect combination of optimism and smarts.

His wife, actress Veronika Duerr, calls "Hamilton" a masterpiece and recalls dancing in her seat and crying when she saw it with Daniels.

"It lived up to the hype and surpassed it," Duerr said.

"The script and songs flow effortlessly and weave a story about the birth of our country we've never heard before. It's a masterpiece."

Susan Julian Gates, executive director of the Chelmsford Center for the Arts, has seen the show twice and calls it "astonishing."

"No one looks remotely like the characters they are playing -- most would have been slaves in that period -- but there is a complete suspension of disbelief," Gates said. "The rap style fits because these people were revolutionaries. The show is as close to what I think of pure storytelling and acting as you can get."

Its resonance with young people is key to its success, Gates said. She took her niece to the show a few weeks ago and loved it all over again.

 

"'Hamilton' has captivated young people who've never been to theater with its brilliant storytelling, musical style and pace," she said. "And they see these men as role models of hope, which helps their feelings of helplessness in today's political climate."

"Hamilton" has turned young people into history fans, said Lowellian Heather Cook, a Stonehill College history major.

"Miranda brilliantly uses rap to get the younger generation interested in history. The incredible message makes history come alive," said Cook, who saw the London production in the spring and felt patriotic seeing it with a British audience.

She introduced her brother, Andrew Cook, also of Lowell and an aide to U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, to "Hamilton" when she played the cast album for him.

"It blew me away," said Andrew, who saw it in February in New York with girlfriend Katie Durkin of Lowell, who gave him tickets for Christmas. "Miranda uses common language -- hip-hop, the language of the streets -- and turns it into poetry to tell this historical story. He's like a contemporary Shakespeare.

"Hearing the album is one thing," he added, "but seeing it live adds a whole new dimension. I don't think I'll ever see anything better in my whole life."

"It's brilliant," Heather concluded.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is nancyedt@verizon.net.

Talking tickets

Tickets, if you can get them, start at $84.95. Check www.Ticketmaster.com for late-release tickets available on short notice. No tickets will be sold by phone and are only available at Ticketmaster. A lottery for 40 $10 orchestra seats will be held daily. Details will be announced after Labor Day.

For information, visit https://boston.broadway.com/hamiltonfaq or its social-media channels -- Facebook @BroadwayinBoston, Twitter @BroadwayinBoston, or Instagram @BroadwayinBoston -- for up-to-date info on the lottery.

A look at Lin-Manuel Miranda

* A New York born and bred composer, lyricist, playwright, rapper and actor best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals "In the Heights" and "Hamilton."

* A graduate of Wesleyan University, he's 38.

* Co-wrote the songs for Disney's "Moana" soundtrack.

* First on-screen role was a small part in "The Sopranos."

* Co-stars in Disney's upcoming "Mary Poppins Returns," being released Dec. 19.

* Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, three Grammys, an Emmy, three Tonys and a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship

* Politically active, most notably on behalf of Puerto Rico.

* Married to Vanessa Adriana Nadal, a high-school friend, and they have two children."