Sunday night marks this year’s Tony Awards show, or as it will be known this year, the #HamilTonys because the smash hit Hamilton is expected to sweep the awards for musicals.
It hit me recently that, as the hot musical of the moment, college marching bands across the country will likely start to incorporate Hamilton music into their performances, whether it’s music from the sidelines during the games or full-on Hamilton themed halftime shows. We all know it's coming. And that’s not a bad thing. If you’re not familiar with the show or the music, what are you waiting for? It’s amazing!
For those who might be unaware (I understand the college sports fanbase often doesn’t intersect with the Broadway fanbase. Shocking, but true.) Hamilton is a show that’s flown far beyond the traditional Broadway crowd. Even its supporting actors have been regularly make appearances on talk shows. The soundtrack album has gone platinum and it was the first Broadway show to perform live on the Grammys in February.
So, yeah, schools will be all over it. I thought it might be fun to take a stab at what a halftime show might look like. I’m pretty sure this will come off as some practical tactical brilliance. Granted, I know nothing about putting together a marching band halftime show. This is probably way too much music for a standard performance. I won't even try to propose choreography. Contributor Robert Boyd, a former Arkansas band member, might be able to tell me how completely off I am about this whole thing.
Guns and Ships
Since we've got to pick and choose selections from the show, we have to start here. The opening notes mirror the opening notes of the entire show before transitioning into what becomes the fastest song in Broadway history with a verse clocking in at 6.3 words per second. I'd be really curious to see how a marching band would use music to portray the speed of the lyrics.
Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)
The song starts out slow as Alexander Hamilton leads the Revolutionaries in plotting the battle that would ultimately win the war. The song has a great build (We’ll fight up close/seize the moment and stay in it/it’s either that/ or meet the business end of a bayonet!) to the actual battle sequence that could work for band movement. And then closes with the celebration of victory (We won. We won! WE WON. WE WON!)
The Schuyler Sisters
This is the song that introduces the women of the show, but also is about the celebration of being a part of an important event, as they are on the eve of Revolution. It can translate to a big sporting event. (Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now! History is happenin in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world!) I think it could work well. Work!
Wait for It
For a change of pace, we can turn to Aaron Burr’s introspective power ballad, Wait for It. You don't need the entire song here as it starts too slow, but when you get to about the 1:30 mark the full sound comes out and it's so big and rich and powerful that it hooks you.
The Room Where It Happens
The Act 2 showstopper has launched one of the more famous phrases from the show. Who doesn’t want to be in the room where it happens? It wouldn’t surprise me if schools, who for the last few years have been struggling to find ways to attract people to physically attend games instead of watching on TV, starting using this line to try to sell tickets.
I don't know that a band would use the entire song, as it cuts from song into spoken word occasionally, but by the end of the second half, Burr again brings the house down.
If you know the show, you know this is coming. Arguably the catchiest song in the show, it comes early on when Hamilton is introducing himself and his aspirations. By the end, we’re all ready to fight the redcoats under the rallying cry of the song’s famous chorus, "just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I am not throwing away my shot!" Rise up! Let’s get the 3rd quarter started!