On May 19, a crowd of Broadway fans gathered on 46th Street, outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre, for a special “Ham4Ham” mini-concert performance. Lin-Manuel Miranda announced this will be the first in a “Ham4Ham” series slated for this awards season.
Street performances like these began in July 2015, as an offering of entertainment and gratitude to the masses who showed up in person to the “Hamilton” ticket lottery, known as #Ham4Ham because winners would receive a ticket to the hit musical for $10 (Alexander Hamilton’s face graces the $10 bill.) Though the practice of selling a select number of tickets through the discounted lottery has continued, the #Ham4Ham shows officially ended in August 2016.
But “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has revived them. On May 12, the combined casts of “Hamilton” and “Sweeney Todd” sang a mashup titled “Demon Barber Sweeney Todd,” which blends the songs “Alexander Hamilton” and “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” and was originally penned for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ 2017 Easter Bonnet competition.
In the tumult surrounding the broadcast of the 2023 Tonys, Miranda has decided to continue the weekly concert series. “It occurred to me that — as much as we love the Tonys — they should not be the be-all-end-all of your exposure to this incredible theater season,” Miranda said from the steps of the Rodgers. “We have so much to celebrate, and we have such an amazing season of theater now that we are mostly through the pandemic and people are coming to support live theater again.”
“We will be showing selections from all of the Best Musical and Best Musical Revival nominees over the next few weeks,” he continued. The May 19 iteration showcased performances by the casts of “Kimberly Akimbo,” a Best Musical nominee, and “Camelot,” a Best Revival of a Musical nominee.
Tony-nominated actor Bonnie Milligan and members of the “Kimberly Akimbo” ensemble sang “Better” from Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire’s Tony-nominated score. Then, a quartet of “Camelot” ensemblists sang a newly arranged a cappella version of the title song, before leading actor (and original “Hamilton” star) Phillipa Soo and the full ensemble belted out a mashup of “The Lusty Month of May” and “Take a Break” — the latter from the “Hamilton” score.
With these informal presentations, Miranda hopes to raise the profile of Broadway, create excitement for the upcoming Tony Awards and support the Writers Guild of America. “We stand here in full solidarity with the Writers Guild,” Miranda said. “We believe writers deserve a living wage and that robots shouldn’t write the things we love and watch on TV and film. So thank you, WGA, in everything we do and in this fight.”
Additional #Ham4Ham shows will take place on May 26 and June 2 place outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Fridays at 4 p.m. Performers for upcoming dates have not been announced.