Bastard, orphan, hero, scholar

“HAMILTON”, a hip-hop musical about one of America’s founding fathers and the architect of its financial system, is an unlikely smash. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creation has been the hottest ticket on Broadway since the show started in July last year. On June 12th it won 11 Tony awards, theatre’s equivalent of Oscars. Michelle Obama called it “the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life”. Its success is widely credited with convincing the Treasury to keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. But if its cultural heft is clear, its commercial achievements may be just as remarkable.

“Hamilton” serves as a reminder that although Broadway is rarely regarded as a big business in the same way as Hollywood is, the most successful musicals can outperform the silver screen. No film has ever banked $1 billion at the box office in North America, but three musicals—“The Phantom of the Opera”, “The Lion King” and “Wicked”—have exceeded this benchmark on Broadway, admittedly over long runs. The gap widens further when counting performances worldwide. Andrew Lloyd...Continue reading