BWW Blog: HAMILTON Creative Team Talk: Looking to The Cabinet for Inspiration

You would think that with the long-awaited arrival of HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL finally in town, the people lined up on the streets of Hollywood Blvd on Monday night were waiting to see the show. However, just three days after HAMILTON's touring cast had its very first preview at The Pantages Theater in LA, hundreds of people were lined up not for a performance of the show, but for something just as inspirational - a Q&A with The Cabinet.

HAMILTON creator Lin-Manuel Miranda often refers to the musical's Tony Award-winning director Thomas Kail, orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler as his "Cabinet," the other genius minds behind the show's creation. In anticipation of the city's Opening Night, the show's three creators sat down for a Q&A session with the LA Times, an hour-long discussion on how they, along with Miranda, arrived at the decisions they made to create the musical that continues to play on Broadway, in Chicago, and now in LA today. From talk of how Miranda would bring in merely the building blocks of an unfinished line or musical idea to how Lacamoire arranges it, Blankenbuehler envisions it, and how Kail interprets it, the discussion of the show's creation was truly an insider look behind HAMILTON's phenomenon.

"Some of my favorite memories are not how they ended up but obviously the process that got us there," said three-time Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler, on how they reach new ideas together. Blankenbuehler, Miranda, Lacamoire, and Kail have been a team since the creation of Miranda's first show IN THE HEIGHTS, and many stories about the creative process and the work they made together were recalled and laughed about as Tony and Grammy Award winner Alex Lacamoire described it as "a ball being passed around the room." Director Tommy Kail, who won an Emmy last year for his work on GREASE: LIVE says about his partnership with Miranda, "When Lin says he's writing a play, I just say, 'Where are we rehearsing?'"

Many of the people who attended that night came to learn from the creators themselves about the development of the musical they adored, but a special group of high school students from The LA Times' High School Insider program were in attendance hoping to learn and draw inspiration from the three artists that were sitting in front of them. "Hamilton is not only attracting a theater audience [...] but it's inspiring creative artists to become creative artists [...] The beauty of art and the beauty of theater [...] makes us believe that somewhere in life those things are possible," shared Blankenbuehler on HAMILTON's influence. "Everything in this show feels inevitable," Kail said, "except that none of it is." The creative team's remarks about the show highlight that not only is HAMILTON a historical narrative, but one that also parallels our own lives. "The beat in our show is equal parts low and badass and high and aspirational, and that reminds us that that's the fight that we continue to go through every day," Blankenbuehler stated. "The show is about ourselves."

BWW Blog: HAMILTON Creative Team Talk: Looking to The Cabinet for Inspiration
Hamilton: An American Musical Photo - The Schuyler Sisters

Though the show is about events that happened 250 years ago and the show has now been around for two years, hundreds of people continue to say that HAMILTON's lyrics and message remain relevant in our lives, and yet somehow there is still and always another layer of genius or another piece of significant symbolism that can be discovered. Before the show became the success it is today, Kail recalled the day when the now-iconic silhouette photos of the characters of the show were taken, especially the image of The Schuyler Sisters - the shadows of a hopeful Renée Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, and Jasmine Cephas Jones. "I remember that second when that picture happened," Kail said, "and the lift of those chins and the promise of what was possible. There it was, and that's what it felt like that day." Even down to the promotional photos, there is a symbol of hope, a piece of inspiration, that lies underneath.

The world has undoubtedly been enveloped by Lin-Manuel Miranda's music and the message he sends as a writer and performer, but on this night, Los Angeles learned that successes such as these come from working as a team. Kail explained, "When you work with a collaborator who is as trusting and full of faith as Lin is, that's the only way that this happens."

For artists, students, writers, directors, musicians, or dancers in search of inspiration or motivation, The Pantages Theater on Monday night was a great place to look, but it doesn't have to stop there. From the wisdom, intelligence, and talents of HAMILTON's director, orchestrator, and choreographer, there is so much to take away from what they have to say and the story that they so proudly stand behind. As the Q&A session neared its end and the cast and team every hour closer to HAMILTON LA's Opening Night, Blankenbuehler reminded the audience the truth of the show's message, as he described the Founding Fathers' fight to revolution saying, " Even though there's a lot of trials and a lot of loss, there's also overcoming the grief [...] It's a reminder for us to have faith, that things get better, that we can achieve it together, that we should shoot for way over there because as history shows we have accomplished that [...] It's a story of inspiration." If you're in search of inspiration, look no further than the minds of this team.

There is no doubt that we have Lin-Manuel Miranda to thank for the gift that is HAMILTON, but as the show continues to tour and Alex Lacamoire, Thomas Kail, and Andy Blankenbuehler continue to work on bringing the musical to a city near you, it is evident that we also have this incomparable Tony Award-winning trio and their cherished creative genius to thank to no end.

To any aspiring creator - "Shoot for way over there," because as history shows that's what The Cabinet did with HAMILTON, and maybe one day, if we take our shots hard enough, we can all accomplish that.

HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL plays at The Pantages Theater in Los Angeles from now until December 30, 2017 - tickets can be purchased here https://www.hollywoodpantages.com/events/detail/hamilton

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From This Author Erica Garcia

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