by Pamela Rothbard, Editor
The hit Broadway musical Hamilton has inspired a theatrical renaissance — utilizing intricate, historical rap verses to engage and inspire new audiences. It’s a daunting task to curate a celebration to feté such an achievement in creativity. Yet, Ryan Hill, founder of Apotheosis Events — along with some of the industry’s leading designers — planned and executed five such events for the über-popular show.
From New York’s premiere party to opening celebrations in Chicago and Los Angeles, plus one spectacular Tony Awards soirée, Hill expressed the sentiments of the play in party form. Each celebration is completely original and manages to take on the flavor of its host city without losing its Hamilton-themed focus. Step inside these five events to relive how the brilliance of Broadway inspires us.
For the premiere party of the Broadway play Hamilton, Apotheosis Events evoked title character Alexander Hamilton’s upbringing in the British West Indies. The team worked with Devin Delano Productions to pair tropical florals with large palm leaves nestled into turquoise or carved wooden vessels for an elevated island vibe. Guests enjoyed buffet bites curated and prepared by Abigail Kirsch Catering at tables boasting luxe décor of woven runners, dreamy candlelight, and blocks of driftwood.
The Pier Sixty space in New York served as a fitting spot for partygoers to boogie to the sounds of DJs AndrewAndrew under an installation of 300 lanterns. Each lantern was carefully lined with paper to reflect the varied colors and patterns of the intricate lighting scheme from designer Scott Schneider of Full Production Services (FPS) Inc. The Federalist Papers projected onto the Pier 60 walls reminded guests of Hamilton’s prolific career. Colorful rugs and chic collections of leather and wood furniture defined lounge areas as spots for leaning in to discuss the clever lyrics and memorable performances in the hit musical.
After eating and lounging, guests meandered outside to enjoy spectacular views of NYC, where they were surprised by a 15-minute firework show from Pyro Spectaculars by Souza (the same company who executes Macy’s annual fireworks extravaganza), which was timed to a soundtrack curated by the show’s author, Lin Manuel Miranda himself. Planner, Ryan Hill, evokes this moment when speaking of how he named his event planning company, saying, “An ‘apotheosis’ is the highest point in the development of something. Every event needs this type of escalation — or wow moment.”
Yet at this event, it seems that Hill supplied not one, but two of these moments — right after the firework embers died, guests heard live music amping up inside and rushed to the dance floor to enjoy another surprise: a 90-minute set by hip hop band, The Roots. Photographer Christian Grattan captured every fun moment, including Miranda taking the stage to belt a tune, ending the party on a high note (literally).
Each year during the annual Broadway League Spring Road Conference many of the shows opening that season throw parties to entertain visiting producers from around the country. Most soirées consist of cocktails at a Midtown bar or an evening at a local club, but for the Hamilton after-party, at the producer’s direction, planner Hill took a more dramatic tact. He transported guests from Times Square on classic city double-decker buses to the IAC building for the party. The IAC building is known for its exterior, which resembles a sailboat, but it was its indoor, 80-foot long LED screen that Hill wove into David Beahm’s design.
The large venue can hold 950 guests, so Hill and Beahm felt it was important to dominate the large space with a single visual element. Apotheosis utilized the giant screen to display Hamilton artwork — designed by Spotco (the advertising agency for the show) — of shadows of the characters looming over the celebration. The décor experts at David Beahm Experiences conjured a chic space highlighting cool antiques and lovely florals, outfitting the super-modern space in colonial style — a perfect mashup of past and present, just like the musical itself.
Inspired by the black velvet coat that the Alexander Hamilton character dons at one point in the musical, Beahm selected white and walnut furniture accented by hundreds of night-black velvet pillows. Cozy, composed, lounge areas gave guests plenty of spots to perch and chat about the record-breaking show they had all just attended, while the dance floor — creatively lit by FPS Inc — offered a space for enjoying tunes spun by DJs AndrewAndrew.
Guests dined and dished at tables decorated with an assemblage of cream tapered and pillar candles nestled into greenery and florals in deep red and light pink hues. Vintage-looking items like large glass cloches and magnifying glasses offered a historic vibe, along with The Federalist Dueling Pistols wine — a “duel” of Zinfandel and Syrah — on each table.
The caterers at Sonnier and Castle conjured interesting presentations of color-curated fare in reds, creams, and yellows. Varied displays featured raw wood stands interspersed with tall tapered candles, for an early-American feel. Vintage teacups held crudité next to sips of watermelon gazpacho and bites of beautiful heirloom tomato tarts and mini bacon and onion quiches. More sustenance came in the form of an assortment of flatbreads, while yellow, pink, and blue cocktails — a nod to dress colors of characters, the Schuyler sisters — were served from chicken wire baskets.
Photographer Christian Grattan once again perfectly captured the levity of the evening while a Sharingbox photo spot with a green screen offered guests the chance to pose atop Hamilton’s iconic star and take home their snaps along with their memories and custom Hamilton umbrellas as they headed into the night.
Attendees of the other two Hamilton events were comprised of guests like investors, producers, the cast, and their guests. But for the Tony Awards, “everyone wanted to come,” says Hill. The event required increased security for high-profile celebs like actors Michelle Williams, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jake Gyllenhaal, songstress Barbra Streisand, and rapper Common. Tuxedoed men and decked-out women lined up between custom barricades to check in with a fleet of greeters to enter the celebration through an oversized lush boxwood arch.
The viewing party began at 7pm, offering a live telecast of the awards show streaming on screens throughout the classic New York City Tavern on the Green venue. At the 11pm conclusion of the awards at Radio City Music Hall, the Hamilton cast and producers arrived to celebrate an evening of big wins for the show. Guests were well cared for — from being greeted at the entrance with a cocktail to the basket of Pashmina scarves for when the evening turned cool.
For a party of this size, the Apotheosis and David Beahm Experiences teams utilized the Tavern on the Green interior plus its outdoor space. The venue itself is rustic with bright leafy elements; party décor built on that verdant vibe by adding colors inspired from the hues of the ball gowns the Schuyler sisters donned in the play — caramel, pink and light teal (which Hill cheekily compares to the color of the Baskin Robbins flavor “daiquiri ice”). Hundreds of silk pillows in the trio of strong feminine colors adorned the heavily floraled event. Topiaries and wild, yet composed, arrangements of gorgeous blooms in vivid hues adorned tables and were beautifully captured, along with smiling guests, by photographer Christian Grattan.
Guests sipped curated cocktails named after lyrics from the musical, like “The Mind at Work” and “Take a Break,” which included flavors of Botanist gin, Lillet, lemon, egg whites, basil cordial and rhubarb bitters. Partygoers took that break in sleek lounge areas composed of evergreen banquettes and all-white chairs and tables which allowed the bright florals and pillows to set the chic, colorful tone.
Hamilton theming continued with Gobo light projections of the show’s iconic star onto the venue’s gables and a 5-foot gold star suspended over the open-air dance floor from a 40-foot tall metallic truss. Strings of lights with beaded shades criss-crossed over the dance floor while light projections from Bentley Meeker changed colors as guests danced. And dance they did! The floor was positively packed, with more than 600 guests still partying at 6am when DJ QuestLove (who performed an epic 7-hour set with no break) spun the perfect final song, “Daylight Come and Me Wanna Go Home,” as the sun rose over New York City and the revelers.
The Chicago premiere of the musical took inspiration from “A Winter’s Ball” — one of the most-often memorized songs from Hamilton. This “full-tilt” (in Hill’s words) 1780 colonial celebration was designed by David Beahm Experiences then executed by Rishi Patel’s company, HMR Designs in Chicago and select members of the David Beahm Experiences team, who traveled to Chicago to oversee the visual installation.
Guests arriving to the chic warehouse space at Revel Fulton Market knew they were in the right place when they were greeted by a towering projection on the side of the building of the iconic power pose on the Hamilton star. Inside, they found a deliberately hazy room outfitted with endlessly long wooden tables covered in clusters of glowing candles — the kind of scene one might imagine in a grand hall in the 1700’s. It was a classically spare vision, with only bright green palm leaves (symbolizing Hamilton’s birth home in the Caribbean, of course) offering a colorful accent. Five-foot tall lanterns swung over each table while rope swags and barrels supported the warehouse vibe.
Like in the Hamilton production, the only pop of deep color is associated with King George. The King George Bar at the Chicago premiere party was bathed in crystals and red lighting, courtesy of Frost Chicago. Luxe seating areas in the lounge featured antique damask furniture and mirrored tables featuring rich (but prickly, like the King himself) bouquets of red roses and nettles – which were culled from the crest of King George by Christina Matteucci from David Beahm Experiences. The King’s throne served as an appropriate backdrop for a photobooth. Guests had fun hamming it up, donning a crown and lounging across the throne for pics.
Kent Drake Photography captured every detail, including the Hamilton star once again hung above the dance floor, which was kept full by Chicago-based DJ Jay Illa. The well-planned evening was made complete with delectable fare from Limelight Catering and wines from The Federalist, whose labels feature drawings of our founding fathers.
The mammoth celebration of the Los Angeles premiere of Hamilton took 32 versions of potential floor plans to curate just the right flow. Thirteen different entrances into the NeueHouse Hollywood space were closed off to create specific entry points. More than 1300 guests lined up along Sunset Boulevard to enter the coveted event, peering in through a glass wall offering views of the enclosed plaza where a separate entrance admitted members of the press and celebrities like actress Amy Adams.
The event was a roaming spectacular with guests meandering through rooms offering beautifully-presented sushi, tacos, and seafood raw bars, as well as a space with a DJ from Élan Artists spinning tunes from a cool mirrored-diamond bar from Designer8. The dance floor featured light projections and a mezzanine area outfitted with cozy pillows, blankets and mini tables so partygoers exhausted from dancing could relax and watch other revelers for a bit.
Following the flow, guests eventually made their way into the courtyard where, for a very vintage Hollywood look, the modernist white building was lit with amped-up colors of the Schuyler sisters’ dresses — glowing pink, yellow, and teal. The lighting from Images by Lighting created a festive mood and the bright hues were matched in the pillows resting on cabana-striped lounge furniture.
Drawing oohs, aahs, and yums, the Gastro Garage performed their fire-fueled cooking show in the outdoor space, serving guests blow-torched gourmet sandwiches and desserts. The courtyard also featured a photo area putting guests atop the Hamilton star, two Bianco tequila bars, and casual, yet luxe, seating upon tiered steps. Oversized floral installations featuring bright yellow and violet hues in every space created cohesion for the stylish meandering affair, which offered a memorable evening for all who were lucky enough to be invited.
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