Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
The ‘Hamilton’ effect
The Arts Landscape

The ‘Hamilton’ effect

HamiltonOrpheum Theatre

The national touring company of "Hamilton" is performing the musical now through Aug. 5 at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

Art can hit a nerve when a truly remarkable experience shakes you up, moves your soul, won’t leave your brain, reshapes your knowledge of history and then compels you to annoy friends and family — because you want them to share your elation!

That was my reaction after experiencing “Hamilton,” playing through Aug. 5 at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

My decision to purchase tickets, however, wasn’t a “slam dunk.” After all the pre-show, media hype and that splashy New York opening in August, 2015, I was cynical. Could this original work six years in the making — about the trials and tribulations of one of America’s forgotten founding fathers — really be worth the exorbitant price of admission? How would I endure almost three hours of rap and hip hop? Could I even snag a ticket or two?

I thought about the dozen first-run musicals I’ve been lucky to see on Broadway that really rocked my world: “The Lion King,” “Man of La Mancha,” “Avenue Q,” “Annie,” “A Chorus Line,” “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Rent,” to name a few. These shows exploded with theatrical and musical artistry of the highest caliber. Nothing could top these exhilarating experiences, or so I thought!

What really convinced me to bite the “Hamilton” bullet (pun intended) was a serendipitous trip to visit relatives in Kansas City during a date that just happened to coincide with my birthday. At the family gathering, I invited the never-shy Sydney Kort, daughter of my husband’s nephew, to share her favorite song (and dance) to celebrate the occasion.

I was expecting 9-year-old Sydney to belt out the theme from the film “Moana” or a tune by Taylor Swift. Instead, I was treated to her interpretation and delightfully memorized version of “Aaron Burr, Sir,” a conversation in song and rap between Hamilton and Burr, straight from the musical she’s never seen. Who knew?

The next day, I learned that my brother-in-law, Bill Kort, was patiently listening through the 34-hour audiobook of Ron Chernow’s 2004, full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton. Later, I happened upon an article about two Los Angeles-based, middle school teachers who stood (and sat) in front of the theatre’s box office for 24 hours in order to be first in a line to buy tickets for six of their students. And recently, I could not help but notice that large, golden-starred “Hamilton” logo adorning a friend’s official show T-shirt.

There’s a compelling reason for all of this brouhaha. To date, the play has garnered: a Pulitzer Prize for drama; 11 Tony Awards; a PBS documentary that aired on “Great Performances”; a mix tape (CD) of the musical’s score featuring a host of contemporary guest artists (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Busta Rhymes, Ben Folds and John Legend, to name a few); and a popular online merchandise shop with apparel, media, souvenirs and portraits for sale. New to the inventory is a Hamilton shot glass and “onesie” for dressing the littlest, future “Hamilton” fan. And, for die-hard devotees, a collection of Hamilton’s letters and documents can now be purchased for a cool $2.3 million from a dealer in Chicago.

Is “Hamilton” really that significant, astonishing, entertaining, innovative and remarkable? Unequivocally “Yes”! And might I add, “Worth every penny.”

Do whatever you can to catch the musical before it leaves the Bay Area. If you can afford extra tickets, bring your middle and/or high schoolers as well. It’s a treat you’ll not soon forget. In the words of one patron on her way out the front doors, “I could not find one thing about this show I didn’t like”!

To check the availability of “Hamilton” tickets, visit or, if you’re feeling lucky, try winning two $10 seats at

Evy Warshawski is a performing arts presenter and partner in E and M Presents.

Stay up-to-date on what's happening

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News