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PBS special 'Hamilton's America' brings history to life

I was in New York City a couple of weeks ago, looking for a miracle.

I went to the box office at the Richard Rodgers Theater looking to score a couple of tickets to see the Broadway megahit “Hamilton.”

A man at the box office told me that I might be able to pay a small fortune to see it in April of 2017 or I could wait until August of 2017 to possibly get a more reasonably-priced ticket.

I’m a newspaperman so I’m not about to pay $400 or more even to see Hamilton.

So I headed a few streets away to get some preview tickets to the revival of “The Front Page,” the 1928 comedy by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur set in Chicago about the newspaper industry.

It stars Nathan Lane (“The People v. O.J. Simpson”), John Goodman (“Roseanne”), John Slattery (“Mad Men”), Dann Florek (“Law & Order: SVU”), Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”) and a few more character actors whose faces may be more familiar than their names.

I mean do you know Joey Slotnick? Dylan Baker? Chris McDonald?

“The Front Page” was worth every dime. I paid $57 per ticket for obstructed view tickets in the third row. Obstructed view sounds worse that it is. It just means you don’t see about two feet of the stage, where the actors seldom are.

I returned home to see “Hamilton” for nothing.

Well, not exactly. I saw a preview of the PBS documentary airing at 9 p.m. Friday on WNED-TV, “Hamilton’s America.”

The 90-minute special in which Lin-Manuel Miranda explains the six-year process that resulted in the musical premiering at the Public Theater before it headed to Broadway is the next best thing to being there.

In some ways, it might even be better now than being at the Richard Rodgers Theater since Miranda and other cast members have left the musical.

It helped that I bought the original cast recording of the musical about a month ago via iTunes and play it constantly whenever I am driving.

One of my favorite tunes is a romantic ballad called “Helpless,” which is how people feel about getting “Hamilton” tickets.

It is interesting to see Miranda explain his creative process, famous politicians (President Obama, President George W. Bush and House Speaker Paul Ryan are among those interviewed) and financial wizards explain the influence that Alexander Hamilton had on America in multiple ways, and seeing cast members go to historical places.

I also enjoyed Miranda saying how much more several New York City streets named after our founding fathers mean to him now than they did before he researched and wrote the musical.

But the absolute best moments are when the program carries selections from “Hamilton” performed on the Broadway stage.

It made the cast recording I have heard 100 times come to life and made me realize I no longer care if I ever see the show.

OK, fact-check. I’m being a politician: I lied.

“Hamilton’s America” made me want to see the musical even more than I had before seeing the documentary.

Don’t miss it.

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