Lin-Manuel Miranda took the stage Wednesday — not inside the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, where “Hamilton” has its opening night, but outside the building along Hollywood Boulevard, where fans amassed for a “Hamilton” ticket lottery and mini-concert.
Undeterred by slim odds, a harsh sun and the screeching throng of hope, an estimated 2,500 people showed up to score one of 40 tickets — each just $10 — to the musical’s opening. More important to many: a glimpse of Miranda, the show’s composer, lyricist, book writer and original Alexander Hamilton.
As private security guards with canine units snaked through the crowd, impromptu singalongs broke out — “Alexander Hamilton” in the front row, “Guns and Ships” somewhere off to the side.
“Just you wait,” one group chanted, faces bright with connectedness. They swayed to the lyrics of the musical’s opening number: “There’s a million things I haven’t done. Just you wait. What’s your name, man?” Then the last line came loudly: “Alexander Hamilton!”
When Miranda jumped into view about 1 p.m. and yelled, “Hello, Los Angeles!” the crowd shrieked. Miranda introduced the show’s musical director, Alex Lacamoire, and cast members Joshua Henry, Rory O’Malley, Julia Harriman and the national tour’s Hamilton, Michael Luwoye. They burst into a Golden State medley that included snippets of the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin,’” the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and the Beach Boys’ “California Girls.”
“Hamilton is revolutionary. It’s the musical of our millennial generation,” said 18-year-old Megan Singer, a face-painter with the Aquarium of the Pacific who drove more than an hour from Whittier to be at the lottery. She entered the “Hamilton” lottery twice in New York without any luck, she said, but she arrived at the Pantages still hopeful, her cheeks adorned with the black and gold “Hamilton” logo.
Leslie Stroud and a friend drove from Orange County with two cars full of teenage girls, self-proclaimed “Hamilton” die-hards. Despite arriving at 10 a.m., they had to join a spillover set of fans across the street from the theater. The girls sought a better view of the performance atop the ladder of a news truck.
"We got here pretty early, but when they blocked off the streets, everyone ran and there was no chance," said Stroud's daughter Austin Rose Zimelembach, 14. She was dressed in a Ham 4 Ham T-shirt, which was given out to members of the crowd. "We saw that Lin was gonna be here for Ham 4 Ham, and I've been following the musical for the past two years, almost right after it came out I got into it. It opened my eyes to how amazing Broadway is.”
The girls hadn’t entered the ticket lottery. They showed up just to see Miranda in person in pre-show festivities, since he no longer performs in the production. Stroud said New York tickets were expensive, so she didn’t actually get to see “Hamilton” on Broadway herself. Just her two daughters went.
New Jersey natives Janet and Robert Braun were with their grandson Max, 2.
"We're out here to support our daughter [Amanda Braun]; she's actually in the ensemble," Robert Braun said.
The couple had seen "Hamilton" in New York with the original cast. Janet Braun saw the national tour twice in San Francisco.
"Always excited to see Lin perform," she said.
"He's amazing," Robert Braun added. "To be able to do that for people, to have tickets and the lottery."
Nicole Hernandez, 27, of South El Monte, and Jackie Reyes, 22, of Glendale said they knew they didn't have much of a shot at winning tickets, but just seeing Miranda perform live was exciting. They were joined by their friends, siblings Josh and Jeanette Mills, of Pacific Palisades.
"I actually went to a Ham 4 Ham like this in New York a year ago, so to see the same type of thing happen here in my hometown was really cool," said Jeanette Mills, 32. "For something that's been such a New York phenomenon and a part of New York culture, to see that integrated into our own city was kind of awesome."
El Monte resident Miguel Godinez, 37, showed up in an Alexander Hamilton suit he commissioned on Etsy. It was expensive, he said, but he's getting plenty of wear out of it.
"I've reused it for a lot of Comic-Cons, so people still recognize it there," he said. "And I wore it for Halloween last year."
Like many fans, Godinez has experienced the musical only through the Broadway cast recording, but he’s got tickets to see the show in two weeks. “A little bit expensive,” he said, “but it's OK.”
After the cast performance ended and lottery results were largely announced, the announcement came from the temporary stage: “Guys, we’ve reached that moment. We have just one ticket left.”
A young woman in a floral tank top rushed forward after the name was called, her eyes wide and her cheeks flushed. She was whisked away to the box office to collect her ticket, and a small, mostly female chorus broke out in the crowd, the voices softer and more languid than in the show.
“Just you wait,” they sang, “just you wait and see …”
You also can find more “Hamilton” national tour news, cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage at latimes.com/hamilton.
Follow me on Twitter: @debvankin
3:05 p.m.: This article was expanded with fan comment and details from the scene.
4:05 p.m.: This article was expanded with a description of the performance and more fan comments from the scene.