Anchored as a conversation about the landscape behind the hit musical “Hamilton,” the conversation really turned to the show’s birth on Wednesday at NeueHouse in Hollywood.
The opening night will take place on August 16 at the Pantages in Los Angeles, where it will run until December 30. For those watching the show in Los Angeles, the director Thomas kail said he wanted them to experience the “Hamilton” they expect from the Broadway race. In an interview before the public conversation, Kail and set designer David Korin talk to Variety on touring production sets, which are moved in five vans.
The set has been retro-designed so that it can be dismantled and installed quickly. While the stay in Los Angeles covers almost four months, in other cities the race is much shorter. “The set is designed to feel big, strong and permanent,” Korins said. “So it’s kind of a neat trick to make something that has to move so quickly and so nimbly feel permanent and solid.”
Kail said, “That’s actually what I love about doing a show on the road. You can do something, which is, I think, really important – you bring the show to the people. “
Kail explained the origins of the series, including her collaboration with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. “After two and a half years, there were two songs. Two songs don’t make a musical, but it’s the Rosetta Stone. He then said to Miranda, “Let’s go deeper, we’ll be as old as dirt by the time this is done.” “
They read Ron Chernow’s book on Alexander Hamilton which inspired the tuner and scored anything that seemed to make a scene or a song and made a “Venn diagram” of what they both liked. “We were building this brick by brick. There was no road map, ”Kail said.
Kail had worked with Miranda and the rest of the creative team: Music Director Alex Lacamoire (who was in the audience), choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and lighting designer Howell Binkley, among others on Miranda’s previous show “In the Heights ”. Korins was working on the set design for “Passing Strange” at the time and said he regretted not being part of the crew.
“I wasn’t jealous of the show, but jealous of the collaboration,” Korins said. So when he heard of “Hamilton” he wanted to be a part of it.
“David’s work is the secret ingredient in the show,” Kail said. “When we work with people in their prime it seems like it just fell into place, but it took him 20 minutes to come up with the idea.”
Miranda, he added, doesn’t write a directing, but gives them leeway to do it themselves.
Many of Korins’ initial designs have been put aside, including the twin turntables which are the highlight of the show. “The double decks are hard to pull off,” Kail said, explaining why he was originally put aside. “We want to make sure that everything we do helps and improves the show.”
Some that they have returned to, while others are just mentioned now. Among the ideas that were considered and thrown aside was a giant parchment and quill, a gilded picture frame, a gigantic column and scaffolding, to show they were building the country.
“Our story is not about the people who built our country, but the people who built the scaffolding for the people who built the country,” the director said.
“We knew them as crispy old white guys, but in the show they weren’t going to be crispy old white guys,” Korins said.
“The show doesn’t feel contemporary because there is an iPod, it is contemporary because of its integrity,” Kail said. “Nothing is more powerful and economical than your imagination.”
(Pictured: David Korins and Thomas Kail behind the scenes of “Hamilton: An American Musical”)