As I pass her bedroom, I can hear my teenage daughter and her younger sisters singing in harmony. She has been teaching them songs from the latest Broadway sensation Hamilton and knows every word. Hamilton fever has gripped our household (and many other teen and tween households) since watching the Tony Awards last year.
Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop musical about a lesser-known founding father, has become a cultural phenomenon and the hottest ticket on the planet. Hamilton won’t reach Seattle until 2018 when it plays at the Paramount Theatre and tickets will be in high demand.
Luckily, there is an affordable, family-friendly alternative in our region — where you can not only enjoy the music, but can sing the tunes yourself, along with your kids.
Hamiltunes originated in Los Angeles in 2015, as a nonprofit sing-along event for Hamilton fans who couldn’t wait for the production to reach the West coast. It rapidly grew in popularity and spread to other cities around the U.S.
Hamiltunes Seattle was born in September 2016, when Hamilton fan Aubrey Petersen, a homeschooling mother of three from Renton Highlands,returned from seeing the Broadway production and began a search to find a local sing-along event.
“I first heard the soundtrack in the fall of 2015 and instantly fell in the love with the show," she says. "I've always enjoyed Broadway shows and musicals, but Hamilton was in-your-face brilliant and fresh." After stumbling upon Hamiltunes LA, she decided to form a local chapter. The organizers shared their experiences and after a few months of planning, the Seattle event opened.
What you need to know about Hamiltunes
To date, there have been two Hamiltunes Seattle event, held every two to three months at Delancey’s on 3rd in Renton; information about upcoming events is posted on its Facebook page and tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite. Tickets just became available for the Feb. 24 event.
There are two types of tickets; singing tickets for those who want to get up on stage or general tickets if you prefer to sing along in the audience. Tickets are priced at only $5. When you buy a singing ticket, a document is sent out prior to the show listing the songs and available singing parts. To give every singer a chance, participants choose two parts to sing from the list, although there are often unfilled spots on the day if you want to sing more. And kids of all ages are welcomed. My children who attended are aged 6, 8 and 12 and there were kids of a similar age in the audience and singing on stage.
What to expect at Hamiltunes
Delancey’s on 3rd is an intimate venue, laid out with tables, menus for food and drink and a stage at the front lined with microphones and lyric books. As each song is announced, those who have signed up to sing are called to the stage. Costumes and props are encouraged — the children in the audience had a ball with this. (The Feb. 24 event will include a costume contest.)
My 8-year-old daughter was too short to be seen over the music stand, but you could see her little foot tapping away and her hands gesturing as she joined the adults on stage to sing the part of Washington in the opening number. Whole families joined each other on stage for some of the numbers and there was an overwhelming feeling of fun.
“I love that we have kids up on stage. I love that we have mothers and daughters singing together. I love that people come in costume. I even love that one puppet we had singing up on stage last month. I want Hamiltunes to be a place where fans of the musical can come and enjoy singing along with fellow fans,” says Petersen.
Thirteen-year-old fan Camille from Redmond attended her first Hamiltunes event in November and wasn’t sure if it would be a little loud and raucous for her. But the welcoming vibe put her at ease. “My favorite part of Hamiltunes was that there were so many different people there, kids, parents, families, men, and women, all with one thing in common — we love Hamilton the Musical.”
The Renton event is one of the few Hamiltunes events that allows families to attend. Petersen doesn't have plans to expand but “if there was an overwhelming demand for tickets, I would consider a larger venue, although it might mean higher ticket prices,” she says.
And, she says, “I’m also open to the future possibility of adding another group to Seattle.”