Washington loses Hamilton

Washington loses Hamilton


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2020

The hapless Kennedy Center has cancelled a 14-week run of the mega-hit musical.

The Kennedy Center and the producers of Hamilton have made the difficult decision to postpone the entire upcoming 14-week engagement, which was to play the Opera House June 16–September 20, 2020. The production cannot currently be presented in accordance with the health and safety guidelines set forth by government officials and the CDC.


  • MacroV says:

    Why hapless? Admittedly, I have never found the KC a particularly innovative institution (and long before Deborah Rutter), but the cancellation of Hamilton is certainly a circumstance beyond its control.

    • psq says:

      “Why hapless?” is a rather …hapless question to pose. “Hapless” shouldn’t be misconstrued as “helpless” nor “hopeless” as in “hopelessly incompetent” etc etc of negative connotation. See my contribution below.

  • V.Lind says:

    Well, if they can get it back when they are able to reopen, it should be a useful revenue-spinner. It has done well everywhere it has played.

  • Stumped says:

    “The production cannot currently be presented in accordance with the health and safety guidelines set forth by government officials and the CDC.”

    …and following such guidelines, that are impacting every other performing arts institution worldwide, somehow makes the Kennedy Center ‘hapless’???

    I don’t follow that line of thinking.

    Conversely, if they did not postpone, I imagine your description would be the ‘reckless’ Kennedy Center proceeds with “Hamilton” whilst ignoring CDC guidelines.

  • Larry says:

    Why do you have to say “Hapless”? If this were being presented in London for 14 weeks, would you say “Hapless Palladium? Why don’t you just say it cancelled?

    • psq says:

      “Why not” to both questions. Your rhetorical flourish was …. what else, hapless. See my contribution below.

  • Dennis says:

    Well, there are some positives one can take from Covid panic.

    • Stephen Maddock says:

      Have you seen Hamilton, Dennis?
      I have, in London, and it was one of the greatest nights I have ever spent in a theatre or opera house of any kind. For it to play in Washington is both hugely appropriate and, frankly, necessary.

      • Dennis says:

        Yeah, white historical figures portrayed as black rappers. I’ll pass.

        By the way, when is the new rap opera due out featuring MLK portrayed by Eminem? Guess that wouldn’t pass PC muster, eh?

      • racial equality says:

        Can’t wait to see Porgy and Bess become less RACIST and use a more DIVERSE cast of white, hispanic, Jewish and Asian performers as traditional portrayals of white male composers have been adapted as such to reflect “diversity”.

        It would be timely, appropriate and necessary now more than ever for blacks to be more…”inclusive” instead of clinging to their overt xenophobia Steve.

        • Stephen Maddock says:

          That’s a ridiculous comment.
          I’m sorry you find Hamilton offensive.
          My advice would be to go and see it.
          Or read the book it’s based on (all 800 pages).

          Plus very few people get to call me Steve, and certainly no-one making offensive comments while hiding behind a pseudonym.

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    Why “hapless”? What is that characterization based on?

    • psq says:

      The misapprehension of the word “hapless” is rather …, what else, hapless. See my contribution below.

  • Smiling Larry says:

    With all due little sympathy for the Kennedy Center’s plight, I agree with the use of the word hapless.

    Every other arts institution in the world, and in Washington DC, had already pretty much given up on most of 2020, but only yesterday did the Kennedy Center finally announce this summertime cancellation, as well as the cancellation of other events that were to take place as soon as three weeks from now, when it will still be too dangerous to get a haircut let alone a Freunde nicht diese Tone. Of course you don’t want to throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble, but golly wheezus you can’t read the writing on the wall if you refuse to see the wall in the first place, and recognize that the wall is about to fall down upon you.

    The Kennedy Center’s infamous furlough of hundreds of employees in early April, including the National Symphony Orchestra, within seconds of receiving $25 million emergency funding from the federal government also justifies the term hapless — from a public relations standpoint at the very least. The financial decision can only have been painful, but the way it was handled was needlessly, breathtakingly stupid: the public outcry was a disaster, and resulted in some panicky face-saving backpedaling. The failure to see that one coming is what poor management of a public institution is all about.

    Like the rest of the arts world, the Kennedy Center is facing horrible circumstances, but they have been conspicuous in their cluelessness about the world we are living in. They’re certainly not evil people … just hapless, and that’s a gentle enough word for it. Will they learn? Dare we hope?

  • psq says:

    A number of contributions to this thread objected to the use of the word “hapless”, as if the word means clumsy, clueless, or similar derogatory connotation.
    No, “hapless” simply means “unfortunate”, a rather apt usage in the context I would say.