Some said they walked away with “chills.” Others couldn’t help but join in singing. A few lucky folks walked away with tickets to the hottest show of the summer in the Electric City. And everyone at the Hamiltunes karaoke-like event last Thursday certainly didn’t throw away their shot.
Witty event name aside, “Hamiltunes: An American Singalong” is an established interactive experience in which participants sign up to take the stage and perform certain songs from the hit Broadway musical.
The main stars of the evening were the dozens of kids who came prepared to sing some of their favorite numbers. Because what kid – or anyone, really – wouldn’t want to portray King George III singing the lyrics “Awesome! Wow!” in a California surfer voice?
“It was wonderful to see all the young people get on stage and sing their hearts out,” said Taina Asili of Albany, who is not a stranger to “Hamilton” creator Lin Manuel Miranda’s work since she played “Abuela” in “In the Heights” at the Schenectady Light Opera Company last year.
Asili and three of her friends – all of Caribbean descent; Taina and Miranda share roots in Puerto Rico – sang multiple times, and closed with “Alexander Hamilton,” the production’s show-stopping opening number.
This program started as part of the Music Haven Concert Series in May 2018, according to Music Haven’s Mona Golub. She and Proctors’ chief of staff, Jean Leonard, helped bring the event to life for die-hard “Hamilton” fans to enjoy.
“For some, this is as close as they’re going to get to the musical, which makes this all the more fulfilling,” Mona added. “We had fresh, new talent. A new generation of performers at Music Haven.”
The sign-up sheet was put out approximately an hour before the show on Thursday. It filled up quickly.
Alfonso Rodriguez, originally from the New York City area and now a resident of Troy, said he was recruited a month ago by friends to sing while shopping at the Honest Weight Food Coop. A “Hamilton” neophyte compared with many of the superfans in attendance, he said he wanted to make sure to bring emotion to his performance.
“These songs have an affect on people,” he observed. “I wanted to help give them a good show.”
The emcee was Peter Deloicis, who works at the Proctors box office and is involved at MopCo Improv Theatre in the city’s Little Italy.
Taina said she regularly attends the Music Haven international music performances. The schedule this year includes North African, Irish, jazz, Columbian and more.
“It’s a chance to experience works from all over the world in our local community. This is a stage that has been shared by artists from around the world. That makes it all the more impressive that the youth tonight also performed on this professional stage,” said Taina.
When asked if Imani McCalmon, another singer at Hamiltunes, was a fan of “Hamilton,” she responded enthusiastically: “I, ooof, LOVE the show.”
“Hamilton” fever has been brewing in the region and around the world since the show premiered in New York City in 2015. Proctors announced the traveling production would be coming to their main stage a little over two years ago. The show comes to Schenectady Aug. 13 – Aug. 25. Tickets are still available for the second week of the show.
As fans continue to wait for it – the musical, that is – the Albany Institute of History and Art is also getting on board with “Hamilton” fever, with an exhibit that opens this weekend and runs through Dec. 29 titled “The Schuyler Sisters and Their Circle.”
The exhibit includes items like Alexander Hamilton’s hair and Elizabeth Schuyler’s wedding ring.
If you weren’t able to catch “Hamiltunes” last week, here’s a taste of what you missed: