‘Hamilton,” judging from the frenzy of box-office lines and overpriced resale tickets, is going to be a big deal when it makes its South Florida premiere Dec. 18 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
The first U.S. tour of writer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s landmark hip-hop musical, which has picked up 11 Tony Awards, “Hamilton” will remain in town until Jan. 20.
Ahead of the musical’s five-week run in South Florida, here’s everything you should know to have a perfect “Hamilton” experience, including ticket availability and local cast profiles, parking and music, plus a little “Hamilton” history.
A little history
The history of “Hamilton” is, well, the history of America and the Revolution. Adapted from Ron Chernow’s biography of the same name, and turned into a watershed hip-hop dramatization, “Hamilton” chronicles the tumultuous life of the man on the $10 bill, Alexander Hamilton, in a sweeping portrayal that sounds every bit the immigrant story one hears today. The musical follows the Founding Father from his birth on the Caribbean island of Nevis to his “scrappy and hungry” arrival in the Americas, ending with his death in a gunfight with his political rival, Aaron Burr. The musical, which has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars since opening in August 2015 on Broadway, has even spawned a hit cast recording of the musical.
How to get tickets
If you threw away your “Hamilton” shot back in October, the Broward Center’s giving you a second chance. For each performance, a limited number of tickets – 40 per performance – will be released to the public through a digital lottery. To participate, visit the “Hamilton” lottery page beginning 11 a.m. Dec. 16 and click on “Fort Lauderdale.” Each daily lottery begins at 11 a.m. (both matinees and evening shows) and closes at 9 a.m. the day before the performance. You can only enter once per show, including dates with two performances, and register for one or two seats. You can enter for every performance, too. Did you win? You have until 4 p.m. the day before the performance to pay for tickets online, or sacrifice them. A painless alternative: Download the Hamilton App, which saves your lottery entry and notifies you if you’ve won.
Don’t be late
Once you’ve scored tickets, plan on arriving early to beat the traffic. The Peck Courtyard, where you can get a drink or a slice of pizza, opens 90 minutes before curtain. There will also be a FunClick Photo Booth to capture the memories. The lobby opens a hour before the show. Be prepared for tight security.
Options abound, but we recommend Uber or Lyft (so you can have unlimited “Hamilton” cocktails). If parking is a must, arrive early and use the 950-space Arts and Entertainment (A&E) garage across the street (101 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; $10-$15 Monday-Friday, $15 Saturday and Sunday), which fills up quickly on performance nights. Don’t bother with metered street parking on Southwest Second Street, which is pretty much nonexistent. Other venues: the Broward Center Governmental Center Garage (151 SW Second St.; $5-$15, cash only during the daytime), the County II lot (80 SW First Ave.; $5-$15) and Riverwalk Center garage (150 SW Second St.; $5-$15).
How to enjoy the show
If there is one piece of advice the “Hamilton” cast would like the audience to embrace, it is this: Put away your cell phone and keep your eye on the stage. There’s a lot going on.
Nik Walker, who plays Aaron Burr, also suggests you resist the urge to sing along:
“I’d remind people [that] this is not the album. We as actors have intentionally made choices that diverge from what our predecessors did on said album. So if you’re coming simply to sing along to a live version of your favorite album, you might be thrown off by all the differences you’re hearing and might miss a lot of the nuances that we’ve taken the time to mine and present. I know 90 percent of the speeches in Richard III by heart (Shakespeare nerd, guilty as charged). But when I go to the show, I’m not mouthing along with them, I’m going to see what THIS specific team has chosen to do with the text. Again, do whatever moves you, but I don’t want anybody robbed of the best experience they could have!”
The national tour coming to Fort Lauderdale has one of South Florida’s own in it. Fergie L. Philippe grew up in Miami Lakes (“On the cusp of Hilaeah,” he explains) and now plays both James Madison and Hercules Mulligan in the road tour. Now that he’s back in town for five weeks, the 23-year-old says he can’t wait to hit up “…Urban [Miami Cuisine] restaurant in Miami and Lecap, which is a Haitian restaurant in Little Haiti. I want to go to the New World School and the African Cultural Arts Center where I took classes. Those are some of my favorite places.”
There might a million things Hamilton hasn’t done, but that’s probably the number of times we’ve streamed the “Hamilton” original Broadway cast recording. At 46 songs, the album is so densely packed with fast-rhymed wordplay and plot, few of the musical’s lines are delivered outside of the context of a rap (scored or a cappella). Each song is rewarding for hip-hop and R&B historians, too, as Lin-Manuel Miranda makes winking shout-outs to Mobb Deep (“My Shot”), Beyonce (“Helpless”), DMX and Busta Rhymes (“Right Hand Man”) and many others.
Where to grab a bite
Starting two and a half hours before the show, the Broward Center will offer a pre-show buffet ($29 in advance, $34 at the door) in its New River Tavern at the Abdo New River Room (call 954-462-0222 for reservations). (Marti’s Bistro pre-show dining is already sold out; 954-660-6333.) There will also be a carving station in the lobby, and pizza in the courtyard. For more information go to BrowardCenter.org/visit/dining.
Two Hamilton-themed cocktails — the Founders Fizz (a sparkling wine drink made with Aperol and apricot brandy) and Brandy Alexander (vodka, apricot brandy, Sprite and pineapple juice) — will be available for $14 at Marti’s Bistro and The New River Tavern.
The Broward Center’s preferred restaurant program offers discounts to area restaurants. Go to BrowardCenter.org/visit/dining for participating restaurants.
We also suggest these options near the Broward Center:
O-B House — 333 SW Second St., 954-530-7520. Those heading to matinees can eat hearty and pricey breakfasts (baked pancakes with blueberry and corn, crab omelets) and lunches at this small, homey restaurant that closes daily at 2:25 p.m. No reservations, no parties larger than six.
Rok:Brgr – 208 SW Second St., 954-525-7656. The original outpost of a regional chain known for creative burgers, craft beer and comfort food such as mac-and-cheese skillets is open until midnight on weekdays, 1 a.m. on weekends.
Del Frisco’s Grille – 501 E. Las Olas Blvd., 754-312-3235. Those who gravitate to the new and trendy can check out the Las Olas scene at this large, airy, high-ceilinged offshoot of a Texas-based steakhouse. Del Frisco’s Grille features salads, burgers and bar bites such as artichoke beignets. Open daily for lunch, with dinner until 11 p.m. weeknights, midnight Friday-Saturday.
Hardy Park Bistro – 21 SW Seventh St., 954-652-1475. Located a short ride from the theater south of the New River, this cozy, sophisticated dining room offers a small menu of quality fish, meat and vegetables from Australian-born chef Philip Darmon. Dinner service starts at 5:30 p.m., no reservations. Brunch on weekends before matinees.
In New York City, there’s a whole store devoted to “Hamilton” in the Paramount Hotel. Don’t count on the entire collection being available here. Browse the collection at broadwaymerchandiseshop.com/stores/hamilton/souvenirs. Click on the “collections” tab, then “shop your city” to find Fort Lauderdale merchandise.
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