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NonStop Broadway’s “Hamilton” puts a twist on a typical theater experience

Performers and audience members gather during a NonStop Broadway show. Courtesy of NonStop Broadway.

“Hamilton” fans can celebrate their love for the musical in a new way on Saturday with NonStop Broadway by singing along or participating as one of the characters from the play.

NonStop Broadway, an organization that hosts Broadway sing-alongs, is bringing “Hamilton” to the Garden Theater at Short North Stage. Unlike other theater groups, NonStop Broadway gives audience members the chance to sing as characters in the show on stage, said Dana Babal, owner of NonStop Broadway.

“We are not about ‘come to watch my show and see me sing,’” Babal said. “It’s ‘come to see the show and you sing.’ You’re the star of the show, and the audience is backup singers.”

NonStop Broadway incorporates karaoke into their shows by allowing those who purchase a “singing” ticket to go on stage and perform songs from the musical. However, instead of a typical karaoke style show, singers know what they are singing in advance, and the entire musical will be performed instead of just select songs, said Babal.

Everyone who purchases a singing ticket receives a link in advance of the show to select their top choices through a draft system. The computerized system then randomly selects song choices for people to perform.

Even when participants aren’t on stage singing, they are encouraged to sing along from the audience. At the end of the show, everyone is welcomed on stage for a “my shot” encore for one last song.

Kelli Clawson, a local participant in NonStop Broadway, says she enjoys the casual and welcoming atmosphere the shows give.

“If you are a little scared, it kind of wets your appetite for what it would be like to perform on stage,” Clawson says. “The audience has been great- it didn’t feel threatening or overwhelming.”

Two attendees of a NonStop Broadway show perform a song together. Courtesy of NonStop Broadway.

Babal started NonStop Broadway in 2016 after he and a group of friends wanted to have a sing-along to “Hamilton.” They gave a free performance in a park, and after receiving a larger turnout than expected, decided to continue doing “Hamilton” shows around Pittsburgh, many of which sold out. NonStop Broadway later expanded to Columbus and Cleveland to reach a wider audience, said Babal.

“It’s really grown beyond what I could’ve expected,” Babal said. “We went from one tiny show to probably doing five to six a month around and about.”

Symone Ciencen, a NonStop Broadway crew member, said NonStop Broadway has grown to become a supportive community of fellow theater fans.

“We’re not professionals by any means,” Ciencen said. “…We’re all singing along and really, it’s not meant to be a performance. It’s meant to be a collaboration and meant to be a communion of the theater experience that we have all become obsessed with.”

While NonStop Broadway is currently doing “Hamilton” shows, it is looking to expand to other musicals. Upcoming performances include “Disney,” “Rent” and “Les Miserables” on Nov. 24 and “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Greatest Showman” and “Wicked” on Dec. 15.

Short North Stage is located at 1187 N. High St. A small number of singing tickets are still available to purchase online for $15, and general tickets can be purchased for $8. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. All ages are welcome, and costumes are encouraged. Learn more about NonStop Broadway and purchase tickets at: www.facebook.com/NonStopBroadway/

 

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