Dallas Summer Musicals recently announced that it will bring the Broadway smash musical Hamilton, based on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, to the Music Hall at Fair Park sometime during its 2018-2019 season. Even without specific dates attached, this promise was enough to whet the appetites of Hamilton’s enthusiastic local fan base, who have worn out their copies of its hip-hop-influenced soundtrack, despite most never having seen the show.
Nicole Vleck, 30, has been throwing Hamilton singalongs at Mac’s Southside in the Cedars since November. She was introduced to the musical by her younger sister during a drive back to Dallas from their grandparents’ house in Waco. “She said, ‘You’ve gotta listen to this. I’m turning it on,’” Vleck says. “We listened to it all the way back. When I got home I immediately downloaded it from iTunes and I haven’t stopped listening since.”
So far, Chicago is the only city outside of New York to see Hamilton, based on Ron Chernow’s biography, with book, lyrics and music all by Lin-Manuel Miranda, but that hasn’t contained the musical’s reach. As word spreads via people like Vleck’s sister, or individuals simply become curious about the award-winning musical — it has 11 Tonys, a Grammy and a Pulitzer — events distinct from the show itself have been popping up in cities all over the U.S. to sate appetites for a communal Hamilton experience.
While at brunch with her sister in August of last year, Vleck read something online about a Hamilton singalong called Hamiltunes in Los Angeles, and there was a note encouraging people interested in starting one in their own city to contact them for more information. “After too many mimosas, we emailed them and asked, 'Is there one in Dallas?’ and they said no,” she says.
Vleck is a public information officer and used to do campaign work, so she says organizing an event like this was second nature to her. Still, she was pleasantly surprised when 50 people showed up to their first event in November. They hadn’t done any advertising, instead relying solely on word-of-mouth and Facebook. At their second and most recent event in January, Vleck says 75 people prepurchased tickets and in the end, about 90 showed up to act out and sing along to Hamilton while enjoying a few drinks.
Vleck attributes huge turnouts to celebrate a show that is still a year or more from visiting Dallas to the fact that Hamilton is an inclusive production that offers something that will interest everyone.
“I think it’s all the different pieces of the story and the way it’s put to together. It’s a love story, it’s an action story, there’s the downfall of your hero, it’s battles, and it’s all wrapped up in one beautiful piece,” she says, adding that even though she’s a lifelong musical fan, having grown up attending Music Hall at Fair Park with her parents, Hamilton has made a unique impact on her. “It doesn’t matter what gender you are or what color you are. You can play any of these characters. And it’s been really fun to see all these different people [at the singalongs] portray these different parts.”
Vleck says she’s very excited that Hamilton will be coming to Dallas on its first national tour, but she won’t be waiting until then to see it for the first time. She and her sister put their names down on a list for tickets to the Broadway production way back in September 2015, and their turn is finally up this June. Vleck’s husband is also going on the trip to New York, which will be a first for the couple.
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“I haven’t told him we’re gonna go the Trinity Church Cemetery to see where Alexander Hamilton is buried,” she says. The musical has given rise to a whole New York tour of sites and artifacts related to the Founding Father.
As for the musical itself, the scenes Vleck is most looking forward to seeing come to life actually concern some of the ancillary characters to Hamilton. “I would say probably the one I’m most interested to see is whoever ends of playing Lafayette,” she says. “But also Thomas Jefferson. That’s a hard role, with fast raps and very technically challenging acrobatics. Lots of jumping around.”
And if you’re wondering whether Vleck regrets going to such effort to acquire tickets to the New York production, now that it’s coming to Dallas, the answer is “of course not” for this avid Hamilton fan. “We’ll see it a second time when it comes,” she says.
On April 6, Hamiltunes will partner with local private school Fusion Academy for a special event tailored to teens. Soon they’ll also announce a third singalong at Mac’s Southside, scheduled for sometime in the spring. Stay tuned to Hamiltunes Dallas' Facebook for those details.