Hamilton has topped the rap charts, it's rocked the Billboards, tonight it opens the Grammy Awards and now it's hitting the a cappella sphere. (This is not a drill.) New York City-based group RANGE a cappella dropped the ultimate medley of the Broadway smash for those of us who don't always have 2 hours and 54 minutes to get our Hamilton fix.
The video features RANGE members Ross Baum, Ben Holtzman, Hannah Corneau, Chris Dwan, Izzie Flores, Jeremiah Haley, Mary Claire King, Clark Kinkade, Michael Linden, Janelle McDermoth, Sydney Patrick, Erika Peterson and Angela Travino and videography by Amanda Crommett.
The Hamilton score is a mammoth and it took Baum, RANGE co-founder and co-musical director, about three months to arrange the piece. "The hardest thing was trying to condense a three-hour musical into a seven-minute thing as complete and comprehensive [as the show] but still exciting," says Baum. "I wanted it to feel like a journey." "Something that I love about listening to the album, beyond the amazing vocals and the lyrics and the music is: I feel like every time [I listen] I hear something else, and that's Lin[-Manuel Miranda]'s work and also Alex Lacamoire, who helped with the arrangements," says Baum.
This video was clearly a passion project for Baum, and RANGE first formed from that creative need for co-founder and co-music director Ben Holtzman. The two were in the same a cappella group at Syracuse University, where they both graduated with BFA's in musical theatre — Baum in 2012 and Holtzman in 2013. "When we moved here [after college], we felt like we had lost something that we loved so much … and making music together — not just learning lines and singing other people's music," says Holtzman. "So we had the idea of starting a group in New York City."
RANGE now consists of 13 members, including Baum and Holtzman. Nine singers in total originated from that Syracuse group and five additional singers auditioned to form what is now RANGE in fall 2014. With many members of the group working to pursue theatre careers — Corneau is the understudy for Megan McGinnis in Daddy Long Legs and Dwan can currently be seen as Elliot in Finding Neverland — the group is an outlet to continually produce new work and showcase their talents in the era of YouTube.
"Ben wants to be a producer, so this is an opportunity for him to produce his own stuff," says Baum. "I just finished an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing at NYU and … this is an amazing way for me to — while I'm still young and not as established — show what I can do." It's also a valuable way for the individual singers to be noticed.
"Izzie is perfect for Hamilton, she's perfect for the Maria/Peggy track or for really any track," says Holtzman. "A dream would be if the casting gets a hold of this video and sees her and calls her in or if people start to get recognized from this and use that as a platform for their careers."
"I think what we found through RANGE is that there is a lot of happiness to be found in creating your own opportunities. Not just relying on other people to allow you to be creative is a really empowering thing," says Holtzman. "Sometimes it's nerve-wracking or you feel anxious putting your own work out there in the world to see," continues Baum, "but every risk that we've taken has proven to be a step in the right direction."
Ruthie Fierberg is the Features Editor at Playbill.com. She has also written for Backstage, Parents and American Baby, including dozens of interviews with celeb moms and dads for parents.com. Follow her on Twitter at @RuthiesATrain.