The Australian production of Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton has finally announced its long-rumoured Melbourne season, which will commence at Melbourne’s 1,700-seat Her Majesty’s theatre from 16 March 2022 – after the record-breaking Sydney run finishes at the Lyric theatre on 19 December.
The Melbourne season was to have been announced in late May but producers the Michael Cassel Group delayed the news following Melbourne’s coronavirus outbreak and subsequent lockdown. Hamilton will continue with Jason Arrow in the title role and the Sydney cast – which features Chloé Zuel, Lyndon Watts, Akina Edmonds, Matu Ngaropo and Victory Ndukwe – will be retained.
Originally from Perth, Arrow lived in Melbourne in 2020 prior to moving to Sydney for Hamilton. He experienced the 112-day lockdown in its entirety.
“I was learning parts of the show for auditions when we were still in the thick of it,” Arrow told the Guardian. “I feel so sorry for friends and family right now. It’s no fun at all. All I can say is mask up and we’ll be there. It’s tough but it will be worthwhile. I’m sure we’ll all be vaccinated by the time we open. I’ll be getting my vaccination the second it’s available.”
Hamilton has already smashed box office records in Sydney, selling more than 250,000 tickets before its first preview. Four and five-star reviews bolstered sales and business is expected to be brisk for the rest of 2021 (despite the current rush on exchange tickets from Victorian patrons who can’t travel to Sydney to see the show as planned).
The Sydney production of Hamilton is the only one playing anywhere in the world, with the Broadway production not expected to reopen until mid-September.
Moving to Melbourne is a welcome change for the cast.
“We all love the idea of experiencing the show in a new city and in a theatre that’s a little bit more intimate,” Arrow said. “At Her Majesty’s we won’t have to reach out for the back row as hard as we do at the Lyric, and I think that will suit the show.”
Even now, months into its run, the Australian production of Hamilton is still developing, said Arrow.
“It’s grown a lot, for sure. So much of it is to do with the chemistry between the performers and when someone discovers something new, you can’t help but feed off that. We grow and change with each other.”
There’s only so much growth and change a major musical can take, however – and it’s not much. “That’s when the creatives come back and rein us in,” Arrow laughed.
The show makes immense demands of its cast in the moment of performance. Hamilton is the wordiest of musicals, averaging 144 words per minute. The Phantom of the Opera, in contrast, averages 68.
“I really have to focus on the moment and not get ahead of myself,” Arrow said. “If I do, I end up substituting a word or messing up a phrase. My favourite number is My Shot. I love it, but it’s such a challenge to wrap my head around. So much happens in a small period of time.”
Strict Covid-19 protocols developed for the Sydney season will also be travelling south. Musical theatre fans hoping to meet the show’s stars and have programs signed at Her Majesty’s stage door may be disappointed.
“We can’t do stage door greetings anymore, it’s quite a stringent policy,” Arrow explained. “Even in Sydney where we’ve had very little Covid, everyone in the production has a weekly test. That goes for anyone who enters the building backstage too. Everyone is masked up unless they’re actually on stage – and any time someone gets a sniffle it’s straight out for a test.”
The competition for the entertainment dollar in Melbourne will be stiff. Hamilton will be up against Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the Australian premiere production of Moulin Rouge: The Musical.
But Arrow is confident Hamilton will cut through and that pent-up demand will ensure its hot-ticket status. Melbourne audiences will see a show that has found its groove, he added.
“I think we all felt some pressure to live up to what they had seen or heard previously from the Broadway show,” Arrow said. “You don’t want to let anyone down. But now it’s not a problem. Coming in to Melbourne without all that on us will be great.”
Tickets for the Melbourne season of Hamilton go on sale 19 July, with pre-sale tickets available to Telstra Plus members from 10am on 24 June. Tickets for the remainder of the Sydney season are on sale through to 19 December 2021