‘Hamilton’ ends three-year run in Chicago

The musical closed out its 171-week run on Sunday afternoon at the CIBC Theatre. At the curtain call, Mayor Lightfoot officially declared it “Hamilton Day” in the city.

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Actor Miguel Cervantes addresses the sold-out audience at the final performance of “Hamilton” Sunday at the CIBC Theatre.

Actor Miguel Cervantes addresses the sold-out audience at the curtain call following the final performance of “Hamilton” Sunday at the CIBC Theatre.

Santiago Covarrubias | For the Sun-times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared Sunday as “Hamilton Day” in Chicago as the final curtain came down on the city’s production at the conclusion of Sunday’s 2 p.m. matinee at the CIBC Theatre.

Starring Miguel Cervantes in the title role, the Tony Award-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda arrived in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2016, as the first production outside of the Broadway run.

“There will be a void, of course, but the memory and legacy of this production will live on,” Lightfoot said of the production, which had 1,341 performances over the course of 171 weeks.

“For all the fabulous songs that have resonated in living rooms, kitchens and cars of all of us who’ve learned every lyric of every song, we are grateful to the genius and performances of all of you,” Lightfoot told the cast during its several-minutes-long standing ovation.

Chicago’s “Hamilton” production brought more than $250 million to the city every year over the course of its run, Lightfoot said.

More than 2.6 million people took in “Hamilton” during its Chicago run. That includes 31,000 Chicago Public Schools students who saw it through the “Hamilton” education program, Lightfoot said.

The mayor delivered a proclamation for the city’s “Hamilton Day” to a teary-eyed Cervantes, who graciously accepted the honor. She then invited the entire cast to the Jan. 15 City Hall session to be further honored.

“Thank you so much for welcoming us into your family,” Cervantes said. “We are eternally grateful to have been embraced by the city for as long as we have. I feel like I’m officially a Chicago person now.”

Erika Dampier, a 23-year-old who graduated from Northern Illinois University’s theater program in December, said she won the show’s special ticket lottery on Saturday, allowing her to finally see the show.

Miguel Cervantes (center) and the cast of “Hamilton” take in the standing ovation at the curtain call for the final performance of the musical in Chicago on Sunday at the CIBC Theatre.

Miguel Cervantes (center) and the cast of “Hamilton” take in the standing ovation at the curtain call for the final performance of the musical in Chicago on Sunday at the CIBC Theatre.

Santiago Covarrubias/For The Sun-Times

“When I got that email, I literally dropped to my knees in the living room of my apartment,” Dampier said.

Dampier said the show’s closing was “bittersweet,” but she’s thankful she got to witness it.

“I feel so inspired right now,” she said while leaving the theater Sunday night. “You really don’t see a lot of minorities on stage all the time, so it means a lot to get to witness this production with people like me at the center.”

Teresa Lee, from Indianapolis, saw the show’s closing on Sunday to celebrate her 50th birthday.

“I’ve never got to see it, so finally it happened,” Lee said. “Tonight’s show was wonderful and emotional, and I’m so thankful I got to be a part of its closing.”

The musical, with book, music and lyrics by Miranda and directed by Thomas Kail, changed the face of Broadway musicals with a hugely diverse cast and score that blended hip-hop, jazz, R&B and pop. The musical, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2016, is based on Ron Chernow’s critically acclaimed biography of Alexander Hamilton.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot presents “Hamilton” star Miguel Cervantes with the city’s official proclamation of “Hamilton Day” in Chicago at the curtain call Sunday for the final performance of the musical at the CIBC Theatre. Santiago Covarrubias/For The Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot presents “Hamilton” star Miguel Cervantes with the city’s official proclamation of “Hamilton Day” in Chicago at the curtain call Sunday for the final performance of the musical at the CIBC Theatre.

Santiago Covarrubias/For The Sun-Times

In a 2019 interview with the Sun-Times, Cervantes summed up the show’s legacy: “I hope what would be awesome is that people will see how amazing the Chicago audiences have been. … The message of ‘Hamilton’ not only in Chicago, but in the world at large, should be: Hey, there was some social change that came out of this, that young kids who saw the show ... and began to write their own stuff can say, ‘I saw that “Hamilton” show in Chicago and I created something cool.’ As an artist, all you really want is to have someone say, ‘What you did was inspiring to me.’ And we’ve been given the opportunity to do that for so many people.”

On Saturday, Kelly Cervantes tweeted love and appreciation for her husband’s hard work and commitment to the production, writing in part: “You’ve made a company, a city and your family so very proud.”

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