Fans of 'Hamilton' thrilled with 'once in a lifetime' experience in Detroit

Sarah Rahal and Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Wearing 'Hamilton' T-shirts, Ben Ruprecht, 10 and Adam Michaels, 12, who had a Hamilton themed birthday party, arrive with family and friends for the opening of the musical 'Hamilton' at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on March 12, 2019.

Detroit — Monica Reeves wasn't willing to pay nearly $1,500 for a ticket to the musical "Hamilton" about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton's life when it opened in New York in 2015.

But after ponying up nearly a third of that amount to join an audience of nearly 2,000 that filled Fisher Theatre on Tuesday, she finally got to see the show during its local debut. It was, she said, worth the wait.

"It was fantastic," Reeves said after the show ended around 11 p.m. "The music, the scenery — it totally lived up to my expectations. ... This is one of the ones I want to see again."

Earlier, the first of many lucky Metro Detroiters dashed to their seats Tuesday "in the room where it happens" for opening night.

For the die-hards who have spent years hearing buzz about the acclaimed show that originated in New York, shelling out hundreds of dollars to sing along to songs such as "Blown Away" on home turf was applause-worthy enough.

"It's once in a lifetime," said Michelle Ruprecht of Rochester Hills, who attended with nearly a dozen relatives.

Opening night was largely a benefit performance for the charities that sold tickets — Congregation Shir Tikvah, L!fe Leaders, Hillel of Metro Detroit and the Masonic Youth Theatre. 

The tour, which launched in 2017, just celebrated its 800th performance. The play, music, lyrics and book written by Lin-Manuel Miranda were inspired by the 2004 biography "Alexander Hamilton" by historian Ron Chernow.

"We are very excited to be presenting 'Hamilton' at the Fisher Theatre for the next six weeks," said spokesman Scott Myers. "It’s been nearly two years since producer Jeffrey Seller announced that the show was coming to Detroit and tonight it takes the stage."

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Anticipation for the musical lured Kira Wolf and her mother, who drove more than an hour from northern Oakland County to attend.

Though they both prepared for nearly three hours of the musical by listening to the original show's soundtrack, the local incarnation left them smiling and cheering.

"It was phenomenal," Wolf said. "It was a lot of fun. I hope everybody gets to see it, even if you're not a theater person."

Linda Hutchinson of Washington Township had long heard about the production and was overjoyed when a friend found tickets on a recent morning.

The show, she said, was a fascinating take on a bygone era.

"It's got a lot of buzz," she said. "They've tackled a lot of diversity."

The themes covered in show songs such as "My Shot" made fans of Ruprecht and her sister, Mary Jane Michaels.

The siblings' sons, Ben and Adam, donned Hamilton T-shirts for the occasion, and the latter even held a birthday bash last year revolving around Alexander Hamilton, whom he has come to admire.

"It's just a boss show and I really like the music," said Adam Michaels, 12.

From "Dear Theodosia" to "Guns and Ships," the production's eclectic selections are why fans of all ages flock to it, his mother said.

"It's so many different genres," she said. "It appeals to so many different groups."

The popularity comes with a price, though.

Linda Hutchinson of Washington Township sits in the lobby before going into the musical 'Hamilton' performing at the Fisher Theatre.

Broadway In Detroit is warning buyers to beware of scammers lurking on social media and through third-party sellers advertising tickets, which they may or may not actually have, at highly inflated prices.

Tickets for "Hamilton," which is showing at the Fisher Theatre through April 21, are available for between $235 and $350 through Ticketmaster, the sole authorized ticketing agent for Broadway In Detroit.

Elgina McCoy-Jones of Detroit heard about the lottery but missed out. She and her husband each paid about $200 for tickets to a performance they didn't want to miss.

Elgina McCoy-Jones of Detroit arrives at Fisher Theatre for the musical 'Hamilton.'

"I wanted to experience what everyone else has been talking about," she said. "It's a mixture of old and new. They're taking history and making it relevant."

Reeves hoped to see the musical again with her 5-year-old daughter and was inspired by the events depicted in it to buy Hamilton's biography. 

"I learned a lot tonight," she said. "It was really eye-opening."
Twitter: @SarahRahal_