The Hamilton Revolution


Christina McLaughlin , Writer

American History is commonly portrayed on Broadway stages  with the likes of “Newsies,” “Jersey Boys” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”  But now we have a new kind of musical that has changed Broadway forever. “Hamilton.

“Hamilton” itself might not spark enthusiasm but you may recognize the name. Alexander Hamilton, a founding father of the United States and the first Secretary of the Treasury, is the focus of this fresh, wildly-outspoken, bio-pic musical. What makes this so fresh is the fact that it is a hip-hop/rap musical.

Yes, all of the songs are written like rap music of today which attracts a broader audience for it’s modern-style writing. Praised by one high school student, “It’s interesting, it’s a new take on something so often seen in history books. It’s something new for people not interested in history. It is a way to get people into it [history] but it also appeals to Broadway fans and history buffs.”

This musical was written entirely by Lin-Manuel Miranda and is inspired by a 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton by well-known historian Ron Chernow. Miranda was inspired to write “Hamilton” after reading the book on a short vacation from his other Broadway production, “In the Heights.” Miranda started “Hamilton” as a side project named, “The Hamilton Mixtape” which he started in early 2009. In 2013, he started a workshop version of the future Broadway hit, starring Miranda as Alexander Hamilton, and the rest is history.

Now, the musical itself has earned  a special place in the hearts of many but the true accomplishment is the revolution that it has started and the success it has reached in such a short time. Before the show even opened, it produced over 30 million dollars in ticket sales. Since the show’s debut, “Hamilton” has become the second-highest grossing show ever on Broadway, inching slowly behind “The Lion King.”

Winning the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as taking home 31 out of 45 awards it was nominated for proves that critics loved this show as much as the public did. The official Broadway Cast Album recording was released by Atlantic Records and debuted No. 12 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart and No. 1 on the Rap Album of 2015. It recently won a Grammy Award for the Best Musical Album of the Year.

This show not only reached music and theater production stardom but has been receiving celebrity recognition. On March 14 2016, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama invited the stars of the show to perform an intimate, acoustic presentation of the Broadway show, becoming one of the first Broadway productions to be invited to the White House.

During this year’s Grammy Awards, “Hamilton” performed the opening number, “Alexander Hamilton” live from the Richard Roger’s Theatre, making this the first time a Broadway show was aired live on the well-known Music Award show.

Miranda believed the importance of this show stretches farther than just a fun night in the city but to the education of high school and college students. Once “Hamilton” debuted on Broadway, Miranda insisted that New York City students be able to see the show at a reduced price for the educational aspect it includes. With the help from the Rockefeller Foundation, they have lowered the price of a ticket to ten dollars for a NYC student.

An incoming college student expressed, “As a student going to college, it’s great financially, a college student may struggle to spend the money and see a Broadway Show. Since he wants to share “Hamilton” with everyone, he allows everyone to do that with the reduced price.” She continues, “ It’s a good way to connect with audiences more and to get students in the seats to learn about their country.”

Tickets for the show are sold out far into 2017 leaving many theater-goers fighting tooth and nail to find a ticket. Like many Broadway plays, “Hamilton” has a lottery open to the  public, before the nightly performance, where 21 front row (and occasional standing room) seats are offered at a low price of ten dollars per seat. This Lottery drew large crowds before each show.

The “Hamilton” cast felt it was unfair that so many people lost the lottery and were left wanting more. Miranda and other cast members hosted a miniature-performance to the lottery hopefuls entitled “Ham 4 Ham’s” or [“Hamilton” for a Hamilton (ten dollar bill)] to leave them with some form of the show to walk away with. As the crowds grew in size, they were forced to stop them as it caused unnecessary traffic jams and safety risks to the cast. Miranda has continued these “Ham 4 Ham’s” digitally on YouTube for every Lottery. “[The Lottery] is awesome! He (Miranda) tries to connect to audiences and bring people into the show. Since it’s his show it makes it even more admirable that he is taking the initiative”, one theatre-goer stated.  
With the American Theater Wing’s Tony Awards around the corner, (June 12, 2016) Hamilton’s success looks promising. Nominated for 16 total Tony’s including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score.