Get­ting ready to stir the masses

It’s quiet near the Pan­tages as open­ing for ‘Hamil­ton’ nears. That will change.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Son­aiya Kel­ley and Deb­o­rah Vankin

Among the cos­tumed ac­tors pos­ing for pic­tures with tourists on Hollywood Boule­vard, not one but two con­vinc­ing Johnny Depp looka­likes — one dressed as Willy Wonka, the other as Ed­ward Scis­sorhands — walked by the famed Chi­nese Theatre.

Alas, no Alexan­der Hamil­ton.

The man at the cen­ter of ar­guably the big­gest sen­sa­tion in mu­si­cal theater his­tory has at long last ar­rived at the nearby Pan­tages Theatre, where it be­gins pre­views on Friday and of­fi­cially opens Wed­nes­day, and Hollywood, as in the boule­vard and the city, seems strangely calm.

“Hamil­ton” has been play­ing to ec­static and sold­out au­di­ences in New York for more than two years and in Chicago for al­most a year. The man be­hind the “Ham,” Lin-Manuel Mi­randa (wrote the mu­sic, lyrics and book), is rock-star fa­mous with the fan frenzy es­ca­lat­ing as the play won the Pulitzer Prize, 11 Tonys, a Grammy and triple-plat­inum sales sta­tus for a sound­track that deftly blends hip-hop, R&B, pop and Broadway-style tunes.

But those ex­pect­ing to see a photo-friendly Mar­quis de Lafayette, King Ge­orge III or Aaron Burr wan­der­ing the neigh­bor­hood may be dis­ap­pointed, at least for now. Shops aren’t loaded with the usual unau­tho­rized T-shirts and mugs, em­ploy­ees at restau­rants and other busi­ness don’t have much to re­port (though there was a single “Hamil­ton”-themed work­out class hosted by the nearby Barry’s Boot­camp on Wed­nes­day morn­ing).

De­spite the enor­mous images that frame the Pan­tages, few seemed to know that “Hamil­ton” had de­scended on L.A.

But as Alexan­der Hamil­ton sings in the show, just you wait. Just you wait.

Ar­turo Tor­res works at the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from the theater and has a prime van­tage point from which to wit­ness the black-sil­hou­ette ban­ners of the Found­ing Fa­thers, Schuyler sis­ters and other Hamil­to­nia rise above the boule­vard.

He was sweeping the side­walk at 4 one re­cent morn­ing, pre­par­ing to open the shop while the Pan­tages read­ied it­self for the ar­rival of mov­ing trucks car­ry­ing the “Hamil­ton” set. Did Tor-

res know any­thing about “Hamil­ton”? Did he want to see it?

He broke into a huge smile. “Oh, yes,” Tor­res said. He loves mu­si­cals and has seen “The Book of Mor­mon” and “The Body­guard.” As for “Hamil­ton,” he al­ready had tick­ets. His com­pany bought them for em­ploy­ees, he said. “Ev­ery­one is so ex­cited for it.”

Busi­ness will boom af­ter the pro­duc­tion be­gins, he said. Based on what Tor­res had to re­port, those glazed old-fash­ioned, choco­late frosted and blue­berry cake dough­nuts ap­par­ently are as ir­re­sistible to the­ater­go­ers as (spoiler alert!) mis­tress Maria Reynolds was to Hamil­ton.

Robert Nun­ley, owner of the Frolic Room bar, also an­tic­i­pates an uptick in busi­ness come Friday.

“A lot of peo­ple will be com­ing to see the show; hope­fully they’ll want to stop in and have a drink be­fore they go in,” he said with a laugh. “There are shows where peo­ple drink a lot and there are shows where peo­ple don’t drink. So hope­fully it’s go­ing to be a good crowd of peo­ple who drink.”

The bar is the Pan­tages’ clos­est neigh­bor, shar­ing a wall with the theater. Nun­ley has been the owner for 35 years, “so I’ve seen many many shows come out of the Pan­tages,” he said.

“The first time that ‘The Book of Mor­mon’ came it was very, very hy­per. But this is well known, ‘Hamil­ton’ is very well known, so I’m ex­cited.”

Fans of the mu­si­cal hop­ing to catch it in L.A. will need to act soon. Many folks like Nun­ley have snatched up tick­ets far in ad­vance. In fact, the only non-re­sale tick­ets avail­able are $650 to $750 for “pre­mium” or­ches­tra seats, and ticket re­sellers have al­ready jacked up prices for in­fe­rior mez­za­nine seats to above $200. The tour’s L.A. run goes through Dec. 30 be­fore mov­ing to San Diego.

Al Seib Los An­ge­les Times

Al Seib Los An­ge­les Times

SIGNS for “Hamil­ton” loom over Hollywood Boule­vard, top. It took about 100 crew mem­bers to un­load trucks Mon­day full of cos­tumes, props, sets and equip­ment for the mu­si­cal, run­ning at the Pan­tages through Dec. 30.

Calvin B. Alagot Los An­ge­les Times

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