|An American Musical|
by Ron Chernow
|Premiere||January 20, 2015: The Public Theater, New York City|
|Productions||2013 Vassar College|
2017 First North America tour
2017 West End
2018 Second North America tour
2019 Third North America tour
Hamilton: An American Musical is a sung-and-rapped-through musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Miranda said he was inspired to write the musical after reading the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The show draws heavily from hip hop, as well as R&B, pop, soul, and traditional-style show tunes; and casts non-white actors as the Founding Fathers and other historical figures. Miranda described Hamilton as about "America then, as told by America now".
From its opening, Hamilton received critical acclaim. It premiered Off-Broadway on February 17, 2015, at the Public Theater, where its several-month engagement was sold out. The musical won eight Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical. It then transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway, opening on August 6, 2015, where it received uniformly positive reviews and high box office sales. At the 2016 Tony Awards, Hamilton received a record-breaking 16 nominations and won 11 awards, including Best Musical. It received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The Chicago production of Hamilton began preview performances at the CIBC Theatre in September 2016 and opened the following month. The West End production opened at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London in December 2017, winning seven Olivier Awards in 2018, including Best New Musical. The first U.S. national tour began in March 2017. A second U.S. tour opened in February 2018.Hamiltons third U.S. tour began January 11, 2019, with a three-week engagement in Puerto Rico featuring Miranda as the titular character, Hamilton.
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Hamilton details Hamilton's life in two acts, along with how various historical characters influenced his life such as Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette; Aaron Burr; John Laurens; Hercules Mulligan; Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton; Angelica Schuyler Church; Peggy Schuyler; Philip Hamilton; Maria Reynolds; and former presidents George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.
The orphan Alexander Hamilton experiences a hard early life, and through his smarts, leaves his home, the island of Nevis ("Alexander Hamilton"). In New York in 1776, Hamilton meets Aaron Burr, John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan ("Aaron Burr, Sir"), and impresses them with his rhetorical skills ("My Shot"). The latter three and Hamilton affirm their revolutionary goals to each other, while Burr remains apprehensive ("The Story of Tonight"). Later, the daughters of the wealthy Phillip Schuyler--Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy--go into town and share their opinion on the upcoming revolution ("The Schuyler Sisters"); it is at this time that Samuel Seabury warns everyone about the dangers of Congress while Hamilton disagrees and counters Seabury ("Farmer Refuted"), until King George III insists on his authority ("You'll Be Back"). During the New York and New Jersey campaign, Hamilton accepts a position as George Washington's aide-de-camp despite longing for field command ("Right Hand Man").
At a ball hosted by Phillip Schuyler ("A Winter's Ball"), Eliza falls hopelessly in love with Hamilton, who reciprocates her feelings to the point of marriage ("Helpless"), as Angelica suppresses her own feelings for the sake of their happiness ("Satisfied"). After the wedding, Burr and Hamilton congratulate each other's successes ("The Story of Tonight (Reprise)") while Burr reflects on Hamilton's swift rise while considering his own more cautious career ("Wait For It").
As conditions worsen for the Continental Army ("Stay Alive"), Hamilton aids Laurens in a duel against Charles Lee, who had insulted Washington ("Ten Duel Commandments"). Laurens injures Lee, who yields, while Hamilton is temporarily suspended by Washington over the duel and is sent home ("Meet Me Inside"). There, Eliza reveals that she is pregnant with her first child, Philip, and asks Hamilton to slow down to take in what has happened in their lives ("That Would Be Enough"). After Lafayette persuades France to get involved on the colonists' side, he urges Washington to call Hamilton back to help plan the final Battle of Yorktown; Washington agrees ("Guns and Ships") but explains to Hamilton--who is convinced he should die a martyr and a hero in war--that he should be careful with his actions because whatever he does will be known for ages to come ("History Has Its Eyes on You"). At the Battle of Yorktown, Hamilton meets up with Lafayette to take down the British, revealing that Mulligan was recruited as a spy, helping them figure out how to trap the British and win the war ("Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)").
Soon after the victory at Yorktown, King George asks the newborn America how it will succeed on its own ("What Comes Next?"), while Lafayette returns to France with plans to inspire his people to have their own revolution. Hamilton's son Philip is born, while Burr has a daughter, Theodosia, and the two tell their children how they will do anything to protect them ("Dear Theodosia"). Hamilton receives word that his long-time friend John Laurens has been killed in a seemingly pointless battle after the war was won and throws himself into his work ("Tomorrow There'll Be More of Us"). He co-authors The Federalist Papers and is selected as Secretary of the Treasury by newly elected President Washington, amidst Eliza begging Hamilton to stay and Angelica moving to London with her new husband ("Non-Stop").
Thomas Jefferson returns to America from being the U.S. ambassador to France, taking up his newfound position as Secretary of State, with friend and fellow Cabinet member, James Madison ("What'd I Miss"). In 1789, Jefferson and Hamilton debate Hamilton's financial proposals at a Cabinet meeting. Washington tells Hamilton to figure out a compromise to win over Congress ("Cabinet Battle #1").
Eliza and her family--along with Angelica, back from London--travel upstate during the summer, while Hamilton stays home to work on the compromise ("Take a Break"). Hamilton begins an affair with Maria Reynolds, making him vulnerable to her husband's blackmail ("Say No To This"). Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison create the Compromise of 1790 over a private dinner, exchanging Hamilton's financial plan for placing the country's permanent capital on the Potomac River. Burr is envious of Hamilton's sway in the government and wishes he had similar power ("The Room Where It Happens"). Burr switches political parties and defeats Philip Schuyler, making Hamilton now a rival ("Schuyler Defeated").
In another Cabinet meeting, Jefferson and Hamilton argue over whether the United States should assist France in its conflict with Britain. President Washington ultimately agrees with Hamilton's argument for remaining neutral ("Cabinet Battle #2"). In the wake of this, Jefferson, Madison, and Burr decide to join forces to find a way to discredit Hamilton ("Washington on Your Side"). Washington decides to retire from the presidency, and Hamilton assists in writing a farewell address ("One Last Time").
A flabbergasted King George receives word that George Washington has stepped down, and will be replaced by Paris signatory John Adams ("I Know Him"). Adams becomes the second President and fires Hamilton, who, in response, publishes an inflammatory critique of the new president ("The Adams Administration"). Jefferson, Madison, and Burr confront Hamilton about James Reynolds' blackmail, accusing him of "[embezzlement of] government funds", which forces Hamilton to reveal his affair with Maria ("We Know"). Out of fear that the affair will be used against him in his political career, Hamilton chooses to publicize his affair ("Hurricane") in the Reynolds Pamphlet, causing uproar in his political position ("The Reynolds Pamphlet") and damaging his relationship with Eliza, who, in a heartbroken retaliation, burns all the letters Hamilton wrote her, trying to erase herself from history ("Burn"). After graduating college, Philip attempts to defend his father's honor in a duel with George Eacker ("Blow Us All Away") but is fatally shot ("Stay Alive (Reprise)"), causing a reconciliation between Alexander and Eliza ("It's Quiet Uptown").
Hamilton's endorsement of Jefferson in the 1800 election ("The Election of 1800") results in further animosity between Hamilton and Burr, who challenges Hamilton to a duel via an exchange of letters ("Your Obedient Servant"). Hamilton writes his last letter in a rush while Eliza tells him to go back to bed ("Best of Wives and Best of Women"). Burr and Hamilton travel to New Jersey for the duel. Burr reflects on the moments leading up to the duel, stating that one of them will have to die. Burr and Hamilton walk the requisite ten paces, with Burr firing first, and time freezes as Hamilton reflects on his legacy, before throwing away his shot. Burr shoots him between the ribs and Hamilton eventually dies, mourned upon by Eliza, Angelica, and the rest of the cast. Burr laments that though he survived, he is cursed to be remembered as the villain who killed Hamilton ("The World Was Wide Enough").
The musical closes with a reflection on historical memory. Jefferson and Madison reflect on Hamilton's legacy, as Eliza tells how she keeps Hamilton's legacy alive through interviewing war veterans, getting help from Angelica, raising funds for the Washington Monument, speaking out against slavery, and establishing the first private orphanage in New York City ("Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story"). As the musical ends, Eliza looks in the direction of the audience and lets out a tearful gasp.
|First U.S. tour
|Second U.S. tour
|Third U.S. tour|
|Alexander Hamilton||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Michael Luwoye||Jamael Westman||Joseph Morales||Lin-Manuel Miranda|
|Aaron Burr||Utkarsh Ambudkar||Leslie Odom Jr.||Joshua Henry||Giles Terera||Nik Walker||Donald Webber, Jr.|
|Eliza Hamilton||Ana Nogueira||Phillipa Soo||Solea Pfeiffer||Rachelle Ann Go||Shoba Narayan||Julia K. Harriman|
|Angelica Schuyler||Anika Noni Rose||Renée Elise Goldsberry||Emmy Raver-Lampman||Rachel John||Ta'Rea Campbell||Sabrina Sloan|
|Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson||Daveed Diggs||Jordan Donica||Jason Pennycooke||Kyle Scatliffe||Simon Longnight|
|George Washington||Christopher Jackson||Isaiah Johnson||Obioma Ugoala||Marcus Choi||Isaiah Johnson|
|John Laurens and Philip Hamilton||Javier Muñoz||Anthony Ramos||Rubén J. Carbajal||Cleve September||Elijah Malcomb||Rubén J. Carbajal|
|Hercules Mulligan and James Madison||Joshua Henry||Okieriete Onaodowan||Mathenee Treco||Tarinn Callender||Fergie L. Philippe||Brandon Armstrong|
|King George III||Brian d'Arcy James||Jonathan Groff||Rory O'Malley||Michael Jibson||Jon Patrick Walker||Rick Negrón|
|Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds||Presilah Nunez||Jasmine Cephas Jones||Amber Iman||Christine Allado||Danielle Sostre||Darilyn Castillo|
The original Broadway cast recording for Hamilton was made available to listeners by NPR on September 21, 2015. It was released by Atlantic Records digitally on September 25, 2015, and physical copies were released on October 16, 2015. The cast album has also been released on vinyl. The album debuted at number 12 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, the highest entrance for a cast recording since 1963. It went on to reach number 2 on the Billboard 200 and number 1 on the Billboard Rap albums chart. The original cast recording won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
The Hamilton Instrumentals, an instrumental edition of the original Broadway cast recording without the cast's vocals, was released on June 30, 2017.
In conjunction with the release, the producers of Hamilton announced that they were officially authorizing free sing-along programs for fans, and offering organizers the Hamiltunes name and logo to promote the events. A series of unauthorized Hamilton sing-alongs under that name, starting with Hamiltunes L.A. in early 2016, had already taken place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., with spinoff events nationwide.
Miranda announced a new series of 13 Hamilton-related recordings called Hamildrops, releasing once a month from December 2017 to December 2018. The first release, on December 15, 2017, was "Ben Franklin's Song" by The Decemberists, containing lyrics Miranda wrote during the development of Hamilton for an unused song that was never set to music. Miranda had long imagined Benjamin Franklin singing in a "Decemberist-y way", and ultimately sent the lyrics to Colin Meloy, who set them to music.
The third release, on March 2, 2018, was "The Hamilton Polka" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, a polka medley of some of the songs from the musical. A fan of Yankovic since childhood, Miranda became friends with him after they tried to develop a musical together. About the origin of the song, Yankovic said, "Lin pitched it to me as a polka medley way more hesitantly than [he] should have. He was like, 'Would you want to do a polka medley?' I was like, 'Of course I do!'" Since Yankovic was busy working on his new tour, he wouldn't be able to release the song in February, so he suggested calling March 2 "February 30th". Miranda said it was "the most perfect 'Weird Al' creative problem solving possible". After Hamilton had premiered on Disney+ in July 2020, Yankovic released a video version of "The Hamilton Polka" that synched his song to video clips from the show.
The fourth release, on March 19, 2018, was "Found/Tonight" by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt. A mash-up of the songs "You Will Be Found" from the 2015 stage musical Dear Evan Hansen and "The Story of Tonight", part of the proceeds were destinated to the initiative March for Our Lives, created after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Miranda said the song was his way "of helping to raise funds and awareness for [the efforts of the students in Parkland, Florida], and to say Thank You, and that we are with you so let's keep fighting, together". Platt added that he hoped the song could "play some small part in bringing about real change [in gun control laws]".
The fifth release, on April 30, 2018, was "First Burn", featuring five actresses who played Eliza Hamilton at productions of the musical: Arianna Afsar (original Chicago company), Julia Harriman (first national tour), Shoba Narayan (original second national tour company), Rachelle Ann Go (original West End company) and Lexi Lawson (Broadway). The song is the first draft written by Miranda of "Burn". Miranda described Eliza's portrayal in the first version of the song as "angrier" and "entirely reactive", while in the final version "she has agency", and explained that "it works as a song but not as a scene".
The sixth release, on May 31, 2018, was a cover of "Helpless" by The Regrettes. Miranda credited Mike Elizondo, a producer who worked with the band, as having suggested the idea, which he immediately accepted.
The seventh release, on June 18, 2018, was "Boom Goes the Cannon..." by Mobb Deep. The song, which incorporates a sample of the musical's "Right Hand Man", was one of the last recorded by Havoc and Prodigy, before Prodigy's passing in June 2017. Havoc expressed that the release of the record was "a great way to pay homage to [Prodigy] and continue not only Mobb's legacy, but his as well". Miranda dedicated it to Queensbridge.
The ninth release, entitled "A Forgotten Spot (Olvidado)", features Puerto Rican singers Zion & Lennox, De La Ghetto, Ivy Queen, PJ Sin Suela and Lucecita Benítez. It was released on September 20, 2018 by Atlantic Records and Warner Music Group. The song was written by Miranda, along with the rest of the collaborators. The song was released on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria which directly struck Puerto Rico in 2017.
The tenth release, a rendition of "Theodosia Reprise" by Sara Bareilles, debuted on the eve of Halloween 2018. It featured show orchestrator Alex Lacamoire on piano and Questlove of The Roots on drums. The song, sharing a moment between Aaron Burr and his daughter, was to appear in Act 2 but was cut from the final production.
The eleventh release was "Cheering For Me Now", an original song with music by John Kander and lyrics by Miranda based on the 1788 Federal Procession in New York City. It was released on November 20, 2018. The release features Miranda performing as Alexander Hamilton and an arrangement by Alex Lacamoire.
On December 20, 2018, the final song was released. "One Last Time (44 Remix)" features the vocals of original Broadway portrayer of George Washington, Christopher Jackson, gospel and R&B singer BeBe Winans, and former US president Barack Obama, reciting the lines from George Washington's farewell address. It is based on "One Last Time" with a revamped gospel type of music. The 44 in the title stands for Obama being the 44th president of the United States.
While on vacation from performing in his hit Broadway show In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda read a copy of the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. After finishing the first few chapters, Miranda began to envision the life of Hamilton as a musical, and researched whether a stage musical of Hamilton's life had been created: all he found was that a play of Hamilton's story had been done on Broadway in 1917, starring George Arliss as Alexander Hamilton.
|Lin-Manuel Miranda Talks 'Hamilton': Once A 'Ridiculous' Pitch, Now A Revolution, interview with Scott Simon, NPR, April 9, 2016|
Miranda therefore began a project titled The Hamilton Mixtape. On May 12, 2009, Miranda was invited to perform music from In the Heights at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word. Instead, he performed the first song from The Hamilton Mixtape, an early version of what would later become "Alexander Hamilton", Hamilton's opening number. He spent a year after that working on "My Shot", another early number from the show.
Although Miranda took some dramatic license in recounting the events of Hamilton's life, both the story and the lyrics in the musical numbers were heavily researched. Many of the songs included in the show contain lines lifted directly from primary source documents including personal letters and other documents such as The Federalist Papers and the infamous Reynolds Pamphlet.[circular reference]
Miranda performed in a workshop production of the show, then titled The Hamilton Mixtape, at the Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theater on July 27, 2013. The workshop production was directed by Thomas Kail and musically directed by Alex Lacamoire. The workshop consisted of the entirety of the first act of the show and three songs from the second act. The workshop was accompanied by Lacamoire on the piano.
Of the original workshop cast, only three principal cast members played in the Off-Broadway production: Miranda, Daveed Diggs, and Christopher Jackson. The original Off-Broadway cast moved to Broadway, except for Brian d'Arcy James, who was replaced by Jonathan Groff as King George III.
|Interview with Ron Chernow (conducted by Harold Holzer) on the adaptation of his book into the play, February 25, 2016, C-SPAN|
Directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, the musical received its world premiere Off-Broadway at The Public Theater, under the supervision of the Public's Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, with previews starting on January 20, 2015, and officially opening on February 17. The production was extended twice, first to April 5 and then to May 3. Chernow served as historical consultant to the production. The show opened to universal acclaim according to review aggregator Did He Like It.
According to New York Post gossip columnist Michael Riedel, producer Jeffrey Seller wanted to take the show to Broadway before the end of the 2014-2015 season in order to capitalize on public interest in the show and qualify for eligibility for that year's Tony Awards; however, he was overruled by Miranda and Kail, as Miranda wanted more time to work on the show. Changes made between Off-Broadway and Broadway included the cutting of several numbers, a rewrite of Hamilton's final moments before his death, and a cutting-down of the song "One Last Ride" (now titled "One Last Time") to focus simply on Washington's decision not to run for a third term as president.
Hamilton premiered on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (also home to Miranda's 2008 Broadway debut In the Heights) on July 13, 2015, in previews, and opened on August 6, 2015. As in the off-Broadway production, the show is produced by Seller with sets by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting by Howell Binkley and sound by Nevin Steinberg.
Hamilton began previews at the CIBC Theatre in Chicago on September 27, 2016. The Chicago production cast included Miguel Cervantes as Alexander Hamilton, Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr, Karen Olivo as Angelica Schuyler, Arianna Afsar as Eliza Schuyler, Alexander Gemignani as King George III, and Samantha Marie Ware as Peggy/Maria Reynolds. On its opening in October, attended by author Miranda, the Chicago production received strongly positive reviews. The Chicago run closed on January 5, 2020 after 1,341 shows. The production grossed $400 million, breaking the box office record for theater in Chicago. According to Chris Jones, the success was made possible by the larger number of seats the CIBC Theatre holds and can sell compared with, for example, the show's smaller New York City venue. Overall, "more than 2.6 million people took in Hamilton during its Chicago run." Lightfoot acknowledges the fact that this number includes the "31 thousand public school students who saw it through the Hamilton Education Program."
Plans for a national tour of Hamilton emerged near the end of January 2016. The tour was initially announced with over 20 stops, scheduled from 2017 through at least 2020. Tickets to the tour's run in San Francisco--its debut city--sold out within 24 hours of release; the number of people who entered the online waiting room to purchase tickets surpassed 110,000. The first national touring production began preview performances at San Francisco's SHN Orpheum Theatre on March 10, 2017 and officially opened on March 23. The production ran in San Francisco until August 5, when it transferred to Los Angeles's Hollywood Pantages Theatre for a run from August 11 to December 30, 2017.
Just days after the first U.S. tour began performances in San Francisco, news emerged that a second U.S. tour of Hamilton would begin in Seattle for a six-week limited engagement before touring North America concurrently with the first tour. To distinguish the first and second touring productions, the production team has labeled them, respectively, the "Angelica Tour" and the "Philip Tour".
The Angelica tour alone requires 14 truckloads of cargo and a core group of over 60 traveling cast, crew, and musicians. The production team insisted that each tour must be able to duplicate the original Broadway show's choreography, which literally revolves around two concentric turntables on the stage. This led to the construction of four portable sets, two for each tour, so that one set can be assembled well in advance at the next stop while the tour is still playing at the last stop.
Hamilton premiered in Canada when the Philip tour began a planned three-month run at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, Ontario on February 11, 2020. The show was slated to run until May 17, 2020, but was cancelled from March 14 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Producers announced the formation of a third touring company on November 8, 2017, dubbed the "And Peggy Tour". It was to debut in a January 8-27, 2019, run at the University of Puerto Rico's Teatro UPR in San Juan, with Lin-Manuel Miranda reprising the title role, then to become a San Francisco production with a different lead. The Teatro UPR stage, damaged by 2017's Hurricane Maria, was repaired in a months-long restoration in anticipation of the show.
On December 21, 2018, less than a month away from opening night, negotiations between the show's production and the local faculty and staff union shifted the three-week engagement to the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center, and shortening it to January 11-27 . This followed weeks of warnings from the union of possible protests outside the theater over budget cuts that the University of Puerto Rico administration was considering that would affect university staff and employees. In response to the prospect of union and pro-statehood protestors, a line of police stood outside the theater opening night.
Miranda's performance in the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center marked his return to the venue nine years after he reprised the role of Usnavi for the San Juan stop of the North American touring production of In the Heights. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon taped segments in Puerto Rico to help tourism, one of them with the "And Peggy Tour" cast performing a version of "The Story of Tonight", where Jimmy Fallon joined in as a second Alexander Hamilton next to Miranda singing about The Tonight Show and ending the performance with a salsa version of Fallon's Tonight Show opening song.
In a review of the Puerto Rico production, Chris Jones said Miranda's performance demonstrated "deeper on-stage emotions", as well as improved vocal and dance technique than on his original run on Broadway. Jones praised Miranda's "signature warmth" as well as Donald Webber Jr., calling Webber's performance as Aaron Burr "exceptional". The sold-out three-week engagement raised about $15 million for Miranda's Flamboyán Arts Fund, which benefits arts in Puerto Rico; the first beneficiary having been the restoration of the Teatro UPR, where the three-week engagement would have originally taken place.
A filmed version of "Alexander Hamilton" was created featuring the Puerto Rico production and was shown as the final part of Hamilton: The Exhibition in 2019.
Julius Thomas III took over the role of Alexander Hamilton when the And Peggy tour moved to San Francisco, where it opened on February 21, 2019. Despite billing as a tour (as is the common theatrical convention with West Coast sit-down productions), the And Peggy Tour is fixed in San Francisco for a lengthy residency with no scheduled travelling dates. The San Francisco production is given a separate tab on the show's website from the two traveling North American tours.
A new production in Los Angeles was to run from March 12 to November 22, 2020, at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, but was suspended on the date of its intended debut in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cameron Mackintosh produced a London production that re-opened the Victoria Palace Theatre on December 21, 2017, following previews from December 6. Initial principal casting was announced on January 26, 2017. The London production received strongly positive reviews.
The show was forced to close from March 16, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was announced in June 2020 that it would not reopen until 2021. It is currently scheduled to reopen on May 15, 2021.
Hamilton will have its Australian premiere at Sydney Lyric Theatre, with previews beginning March 17, 2021. The Australian company is led by Jason Arrow as Alexander Hamilton, Chloé Zuel as Eliza Hamilton, Lyndon Watts as Aaron Burr, Akina Edmonds as Angelica Schuyler, Matu Ngaropo as George Washington, Victory Ndukwe as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Shaka Cook as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Marty Alix as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, Elandrah Eramiha as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds and Brent Hill as King George III.
Hamiltons off-Broadway engagement at The Public Theater was sold out, and when the musical opened on Broadway, it had a multimillion-dollar advance in ticket sales, reportedly taking in $30 million before its official opening.
By September 2015, the show was sold out for most of its Broadway engagement. It was the second-highest-grossing show on Broadway for the Labor Day week ending September 6, 2015 (behind only The Lion King).
Hamilton set a Broadway box office record for the most money grossed in a single week in New York City in late November 2016, when it grossed $3.3 million for an eight-performance week, the first show to break $3 million in eight performances.
Hamilton, like some other Broadway musicals, offers a ticket lottery before every show. Initially, 21 front-row seats (and occasional standing room tickets) were offered in each lottery. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda began preparing and hosting outdoor mini-performances shortly before each daily drawing, allowing lottery participants to experience a part of the show even when they did not win tickets. These were dubbed the "Ham4Ham" shows, because lottery winners were given the opportunity to purchase two tickets at the reduced price of one Hamilton ($10 bill) each.
The online theatrical journal HowlRound characterized Ham4Ham as an expression of Miranda's cultural background:
Ham4Ham follows a long tradition of Latina/o (or the ancestors of present-day Latina/os) theatremaking that dates back to when the events in Hamilton were happening.... The philosophy behind this is simple. If the people won't come to the theatre, then take the theatre to the people. While El Teatro Campesino's 'taking it to the streets' originated from a place of social protest, Ham4Ham does so to create accessibility, tap into social media, and ultimately generate a free, self-functioning marketing campaign. In this way, Ham4Ham falls into a lineage of accessibility as a Latina/o theatremaking aesthetic.
As a result of the Ham4Ham shows, Hamiltons lottery drew unusually large crowds of people who created congestion on West 46th Street. To avoid increasingly dangerous crowding and traffic conditions, an online ticket lottery began operating in early January 2016. On the first day of the online lottery, more than 50,000 people entered, crashing the website.
After Miranda left the show on July 9, 2016, Rory O'Malley, then playing King George III, took over as the host of Ham4Ham. The Ham4Ham show officially ended on August 31, 2016, after more than a year of performances. The online lottery continued, with an official mobile app released in August 2017 that expanded the lottery by offering tickets for touring productions of Hamilton as well as the Broadway show.
Marilyn Stasio, in her review of the Off-Broadway production for Variety, wrote, "The music is exhilarating, but the lyrics are a big surprise. The sense, as well as the sound of the sung dialogue, has been purposely suited to each character. George Washington, a stately figure in Jackson's dignified performance, sings in polished prose.... In the end, Miranda's impassioned narrative of one man's story becomes the collective narrative of a nation, a nation built by immigrants who occasionally need to be reminded where they came from."
In his review of the Off-Broadway production, Jesse Green in New York wrote, "The conflict between independence and interdependence is not just the show's subject but also its method: It brings the complexity of forming a union from disparate constituencies right to your ears.... Few are the theatergoers who will be familiar with all of Miranda's touchstones. I caught the verbal references to Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gilbert and Sullivan, Sondheim, West Side Story, and 1776, but other people had to point out to me the frequent hat-tips to hip-hop... Whether it's a watershed, a breakthrough, and a game-changer, as some have been saying, is another matter. Miranda is too savvy (and loves his antecedents too much) to try to reinvent all the rules at once.... Those duels, by the way--there are three of them--are superbly handled, the highlights of a riveting if at times overbusy staging by the director Thomas Kail and the choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler."
Although giving a positive review, Elisabeth Vincentelli, of the New York Post (which was founded by Hamilton himself), wrote that Hamilton and Burr's love/hate relationship "fails to drive the show--partly because Miranda lacks the charisma and intensity of the man he portrays", and that "too many of the numbers are exposition-heavy lessons, as if this were 'Schoolhouse Rap!' The show is burdened with eye-glazingly dull stretches, especially those involving George Washington."
Reviewing the Broadway production in The New York Times, Ben Brantley wrote, "I am loath to tell people to mortgage their houses and lease their children to acquire tickets to a hit Broadway show. But Hamilton, directed by Thomas Kail and starring Mr. Miranda, might just about be worth it.... Washington, Jefferson, Madison--they're all here, making war and writing constitutions and debating points of economic structure. So are Aaron Burr and the Marquis de Lafayette. They wear the clothes (by Paul Tazewell) you might expect them to wear in a traditional costume drama, and the big stage they inhabit has been done up (by David Korins) to suggest a period-appropriate tavern, where incendiary youth might gather to drink, brawl and plot revolution."
In Time Out New York, David Cote wrote, "I love Hamilton. I love it like I love New York, or Broadway when it gets it right. And this is so right. A sublime conjunction of radio-ready hip-hop (as well as R&B, Britpop and trad showstoppers), under-dramatized American history and Miranda's uniquely personal focus as a first-generation Puerto Rican and inexhaustible wordsmith, Hamilton hits multilevel culture buttons, hard.... The work's human drama and novelistic density remain astonishing." Cote chose Hamilton as a Critics' Pick, and gave the production five out of five stars.
In an issue of Journal of the Early Republic, Andrew Schocket wrote that while Hamilton makes bold choices to stray away from what he calls the "American Revolution Rebooted" genre, it remains "forged in the mold of this genre, and despite its casting and hip-hop delivery, is more representative of it than we might think". In the same issue, Marvin McAllister noted that the production's heavy hip-hop influence works so well because "Miranda elevates the form through this marriage with musical theater storytelling, and in the process, ennobles the culture and the creators."
A review in The Economist summed up the response to Hamilton as "near-universal critical acclaim".Barack Obama joked that admiration for the musical is "the only thing Dick Cheney and I agree on." In 2019, writers for The Guardian ranked Hamilton the second-greatest theatrical work since 2000.
|2015||Lucille Lortel Awards||Outstanding Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Director||Thomas Kail||Won|
|Outstanding Choreographer||Andy Blankenbuehler||Won|
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Leslie Odom Jr.||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical||Phillipa Soo||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Daveed Diggs||Won|
|Brian d'Arcy James||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Renée Elise Goldsberry||Won|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Paul Tazewell||Won|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Howell Binkley||Won|
|Outstanding Sound Design||Nevin Steinberg||Won|
|Outer Critics Circle Awards||Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Book of a Musical||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Outstanding New Score||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Thomas Kail||Nominated|
|Outstanding Choreographer||Andy Blankenbuehler||Nominated|
|Drama League Awards||Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance||Daveed Diggs||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Awards||Outstanding Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Leslie Odom Jr.||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Renée Elise Goldsberry||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Thomas Kail||Won|
|Outstanding Music||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Outstanding Book of a Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Orchestrations||Alex Lacamoire||Nominated|
|Outstanding Set Design||David Korins||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Paul Tazewell||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Howell Binkley||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical||Nevin Steinberg||Won|
|Special Award ?||Andy Blankenbuehler||Won|
|New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards||Best Musical||Won|
|Off Broadway Alliance Awards||Best New Musical||Won|
|Theatre World Awards||Outstanding Debut Performance||Daveed Diggs||Won|
|Clarence Derwent Awards||Most Promising Female Performer||Phillipa Soo||Won|
|Obie Awards||Best New American Theatre Work||Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler, Alex Lacamoire||Won|
|Edgerton Foundation New American Play Awards||Won|
? Blankenbuehler received a Special Drama Desk Award for "his inspired and heart-stopping choreography in Hamilton, which is indispensible [sic] to the musical's storytelling. His body of work is versatile, yet a dynamic and fluid style is consistently evident. When it's time to 'take his shot,' Blankenbuehler hits the bulls-eye."
The musical currently holds the record for most Tony Award nominations with 16 nominations (though due to multiple nominations in the two 'actor' categories, it could have only won 13 awards). At 11 wins, the musical fell short of one more win to match the record of 12 held by The Producers.
|2016||Tony Awards||Best Musical||Won|
|Best Book of a Musical||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Best Original Score||Won|
|Best Actor in a Musical||Nominated|
|Leslie Odom Jr.||Won|
|Best Actress in a Musical||Phillipa Soo||Nominated|
|Best Featured Actor in a Musical||Daveed Diggs||Won|
|Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Renée Elise Goldsberry||Won|
|Best Scenic Design of a Musical||David Korins||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design of a Musical||Paul Tazewell||Won|
|Best Lighting Design of a Musical||Howell Binkley||Won|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Thomas Kail||Won|
|Best Choreography||Andy Blankenbuehler||Won|
|Best Orchestrations||Alex Lacamoire||Won|
|Drama League Awards||Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical||Won|
|Distinguished Performance||Daveed Diggs||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Musical Theater Album||Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos & Phillipa Soo (principal soloists); Alex Lacamoire, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bill Sherman, Ahmir Thompson & Tariq Trotter (producers); Lin-Manuel Miranda (composer & lyricist)||Won|
|Fred and Adele Astaire Awards||Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show||Nominated|
|Best Choreographer||Andy Blankenbuehler||Won|
|Best Male Dancer||Daveed Diggs||Nominated|
|NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration||Original Broadway Cast||Nominated|
|Dramatists Guild of America Awards||Frederick Loewe Award for Dramatic Composition||Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Edward M. Kennedy Prize||Drama Inspired by American History||Won|
|2017||Billboard Music Award||Top Soundtrack/Cast Album||Won|
|2018||Kennedy Center Honors||Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andy Blankenbuehler, Alex Lacamoire and Thomas Kail||Won|
|2017||Critics' Circle Theatre Award||Best Musical||Won|
|2018||Laurence Olivier Awards||Best New Musical||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement in Music||Alex Lacamoire and Lin-Manuel Miranda||Won|
|Best Actor in a Musical||Giles Terera||Won|
|Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical||Michael Jibson||Won|
|Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical||Rachel John||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Paul Tazewell||Nominated|
|Best Lighting Design||Howell Binkley||Won|
|Best Sound Design||Nevin Steinberg||Won|
|Best Director||Thomas Kail||Nominated|
|Best Theatre Choreographer||Andy Blankenbuehler||Won|
|Presentation to Lin-Manuel Miranda of the Special Achievement Award from the board of the George Washington Book Prize, December 14, 2015, C-SPAN|
|Billboard||25 Best Albums of 2015||2|
|Rolling Stone||50 Best Albums of 2015||8|
According to an article in The New Yorker, the show is "an achievement of historical and cultural reimagining". The costumes and set reflect the period, with "velvet frock coats and knee britches. The set... is a wooden scaffold against exposed brick; the warm lighting suggests candlelight". The musical is mostly sung and rapped all the way through, with little dialogue isolated outside of the musical score.
Miranda said that the portrayal of Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other white historical figures by black, Latino and Asian actors should not require any substantial suspension of disbelief by audience members. "Our cast looks like America looks now, and that's certainly intentional", he said. "It's a way of pulling you into the story and allowing you to leave whatever cultural baggage you have about the founding fathers at the door." He noted "We're telling the story of old, dead white men but we're using actors of color, and that makes the story more immediate and more accessible to a contemporary audience."
The pro-immigration message of Hamilton is at the forefront, as the show revolves around the life of one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton, and how he made his mark in American politics as an immigrant. Instead of being characterized as a white person, Alexander Hamilton's immigrant status is referenced throughout the show, along with the virtue and prowess of Hamilton ("by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter", described in the show's opening, and later stating "immigrants, we get the job done"), in order to foster a positive image of immigrants. Alongside this, the casting of Black, Latino, and Asian American leads allowed audiences to literally view America as a nation of immigrants, with the intention of showing how irrelevant the Founding Fathers' whiteness is to their claim on the country. "Hamilton is a story about America, and the most beautiful thing about it is... it's told by such a diverse cast with such diverse styles of music", according to Renee Elise Goldsberry, who played Angelica Schuyler. "We have the opportunity to reclaim a history that some of us don't necessarily think is our own." Miranda has stated that he is "totally open" to women playing the Founding Fathers. Casting for the British production featured predominantly black British artists.
Although Hamilton was based on historical events and people, Miranda did use some dramatic license in retelling the story. Here are the most prominent examples:
The show has been critiqued for a simplistic depiction of Hamilton and vilification of Jefferson. Joanne B. Freeman, a history professor at Yale, contrasted the show's Hamilton to the "real Hamilton [who] was a mass of contradictions: an immigrant who sometimes distrusted immigrants, a revolutionary who placed a supreme value on law and order, a man who distrusted the rumblings of the masses yet preached his politics to them more frequently and passionately than many of his more democracy-friendly fellows".
Australian historian Shane White found the framing of the show's story "troubling", stating that he and many historian colleagues "would like to imagine that Hamilton is a last convulsion of the founding father mythology". According to White, Miranda's depiction of the founding of the United States "infuses new life into an older view of American history" that centered on the Founding Fathers, instead of joining the many historians who were "attempting to get away from the Great Men story" by incorporating "ordinary people, African-Americans, Native Americans and women" into a "more inclusive and nuanced" historical narrative in which Hamilton has a "cameo rather than leading role".
Rutgers University professor Lyra Monteiro criticized the show's multi-ethnic casting as obscuring a complete lack of identifiable enslaved or free persons of color as characters in the show. Monteiro identified other commentators, such as Ishmael Reed, who criticized the show for making Hamilton and other historical personages appear more progressive on racial injustice than they really were. According to Reed, "[Hamilton's] reputation has been shored up as an abolitionist and someone who was opposed to slavery," which Reed stated was untrue.
In The Baffler, policy analyst Matt Stoller criticized the musical's portrayal of Hamilton as an idealist committed to democratic principles, in contrast to what he characterized as the historical record of Hamilton's reactionary, anti-democratic politics and legacy. For example, Stoller cited Hamilton as a leader involved in the Newburgh conspiracy (a military coup plot against the Continental Congress in 1783); his development of a national financial system which, in Stoller's view, empowered the plutocratic elite; and his use of military force, indefinite detention, and mass arrests against dissenters during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791. In 2007, history writer William Hogeland criticized Chernow's biography of Hamilton on similar grounds in the Boston Review.
In 2018, Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America's Past was published. Fifteen historians of early America authored essays on ways the musical both engages with and sometimes misinterprets history.
Writer and essayist Ishmael Reed wrote and produced the 2019 play The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda, which critiques Hamilton's historical inaccuracies. The play, directed by Rome Neal, had an initial run in May 2019 at Nuyorican Poets Cafe and was produced again in October 2019.
KQED News wrote of a "growing number of intrepid U.S. history teachers... who are harnessing the Hamilton phenomenon to inspire their students". The Cabinet rap battles provide a way to engage students with topics that have traditionally been considered uninteresting. An elective course for 11th and 12th graders on the musical Hamilton was held at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York. KQED News added that "Hamilton is especially galvanizing for the student who believes that stories about 18th century America are distant and irrelevant" as it shows the Founding Fathers were real humans with real feeling and real flaws, rather than "bloodless, two-dimensional cutouts who devoted their lives to abstract principles". A high school teacher from the Bronx noted his students were "singing these songs the way they might sing the latest release from Drake or Adele". One teacher focused on Hamilton's ability to write his way out of trouble and toward a higher plane of existence: "skilled writing is the clearest sign of scholarship--and the best way to rise up and alter your circumstance."
Hamiltons producers have made a pledge to allow 20,000 New York City public high school students from low-income families to get subsidized tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway by reducing their tickets to $70 for students, and the Rockefeller Foundation provided $1.5 million to further lower ticket prices to $10 per student. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History created a study guide to accompany the student-ticket program.
Through a private grant, over the course of the 2017 school year, nearly 20,000 Chicago Public School students got to see a special performance of the show, and some got to perform original songs on stage prior to the show.
The website EducationWorld writes that Hamilton is "being praised for its revitalization of interest in civic education".Northwestern University announced plans to offer course work in 2017 inspired by Hamilton, in history, Latino studies, and interdisciplinary studies.
In 2016, Moraine Valley Community College started a Hamilton appreciation movement, Straight Outta Hamilton, hosting panels and events that talk about the musical itself and relate them to current events.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a redesign to the $10 bill, with plans to replace Hamilton with a then-undecided woman from American history. Because of Hamilton's surging popularity as the possible motivation of the decision, former United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reversed the plans to replace Hamilton's portrait, instead deciding to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.
On April 12, 2016, Miranda and Jeremy McCarter's book, Hamilton: The Revolution, was released, detailing Hamiltons journey from an idea to a successful Broadway musical. It includes an inside look at not only Alexander Hamilton's revolution, but the cultural revolution that permeates the show. It also has footnotes from Miranda and stories from behind the scenes of the show. The book won a Goodreads Choice Award for Nonfiction in 2016, and the audiobook won Audiobook of the Year at the Audie Awards 2017 from the Audio Publishers Association.
After premiering on the New York Film Festival on October 1, 2016, PBS's Great Performances exhibited on October 21, 2016 the documentary Hamilton's America. Directed by Alex Horwitz, it "delves even deeper into the creation of the show, revealing Miranda's process of absorbing and then adapting Hamilton's epic story into groundbreaking musical theater. Further fleshing out the story is newly shot footage of the New York production with its original cast, trips to historic locations such as Mount Vernon and Valley Forge with Miranda and other cast members, and a range of interviews with prominent personalities, experts, politicians, and musicians." The film featured interviews with American historians and Hamilton authorities.
Hamilton: The Exhibition was an interactive museum, which focused on the history concerning the life of Alexander Hamilton and also the musical. Designed to travel, it debuted in Chicago in April 2019. Located in a specially built structure on Northerly Island, according to theater critic Chris Jones, the exhibition marks something that "no Broadway show ever has attempted before." Lead producer of the exhibition was musical producer Jeffrey Seller, the artistic designer was David Korins, and the main historical consultant was Yale University professor Joanne Freeman. Alex Lacamoire provided the orchestration for the exhibit (in part, a take-off on the Hamilton score), and Lin-Manuel Miranda, actors, and historians provided recorded presentations.
To "avoid a disruptive conflict with both the North Coast Musical Festival as well as the beginning of the regular home season of the Chicago Bears, Hamilton: The Exhibition shut down on August 25th, 2019.
After Hurricane Maria, Lin-Manuel Miranda with family roots in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico used his influence to bring attention to the plight of the Puerto Rican people and to encourage tourism to Vega Alta. In 2017, Miranda and his father, Luis Miranda Jr., inaugurated the Placita Güisín, a café and restaurant in Vega Alta barrio-pueblo. In 2019 Lin-Manuel moved his memorabilia to a new gallery, the Lin-Manuel Miranda Gallery, within the Placita Güisín and opened a merchandise store, TeeRico. The location has become a tourist attraction.
Following a performance on November 18, 2016, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence in the audience, Brandon Victor Dixon addressed Pence from the stage with a statement jointly written by the cast, show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and producer Jeffrey Seller. Dixon began by quieting the audience, and stated:
Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical, we really do. We, sir,--we--are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.
Pence listened to the expression of concern about President-elect Donald Trump's upcoming administration and later expressed that he was not offended. However, Trump demanded an apology for what he described on Twitter as the cast having "harassed" Pence. This led to an online campaign called "#BoycottHamilton", which became widely mocked as the show was already sold out months in advance. Trump was criticized by The Washington Post, who noted the division between white and non-white America in the 2016 Presidential election and suggested Trump could have offered "assurances that he would be a president for all Americans--that he would respect everybody regardless of race or gender or creed"; instead, as presidential historian Robert Dallek expressed, Trump's Twitter response was a "striking act of divisiveness by an incoming president struggling to heal the nation after a bitter election", with the Hamilton cast a proxy for those fearful of Trump's policies and rhetoric. Jeffrey Seller, the show's lead producer, said that while Trump has not seen Hamilton or inquired about tickets, he is "welcome to attend."
In April 2016, Jeb! The Musical appeared on the Internet with Jeb Bush in the place of Alexander Hamilton, with political figures like Donald Trump and Chris Christie holding supporting roles. A staged reading, given "just as much preparation as Jeb's campaign", was staged at Northwestern University in June of that year. The parody was crowdsourced, with contributions coming from a range of writers from Yale University, Boston University, McGill University and the University of Michigan, who met in a Facebook group named "Post Aesthetics".
In 2016, Gerard Alessandrini, creator of Forbidden Broadway, wrote the revue Spamilton, which premiered at the Triad Theater in New York and also played at the Royal George Theatre in Chicago. It parodies Hamilton and other Broadway shows and caricatures various Broadway stars.
On October 12, 2016, the American situation comedy Modern Family released the episode "Weathering Heights". The episode features a scene where Manny applies for college. To do so he records a parody of "Alexander Hamilton" as part of his application, complete with rewritten lyrics to accompany to his own life. It is revealed that most of the other applications are also Hamilton parodies.
Several 2016 stage performances with the original principal cast in the Richard Rodgers Theatre were filmed by RadicalMedia and offered for bidding to major movie studios. On February 3, 2020, it was revealed that Walt Disney Studios had purchased the distribution rights for $75 million, with an original theatrical release date on October 15, 2021. Miranda later announced on May 12, 2020 that in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry and the performing arts, which shut down the Broadway, West End, and touring productions, the film would be released early on Disney+ on July 3, 2020, in time for Fourth of July weekend.
On February 10, 2017, Miranda reassured that while a film would be made someday, it would not be made "for years, so that people have ample time to see the stage version first." On July 6, 2020, after the release of the live film recording of the stage version on Disney+, Miranda stated, "I don't love a lot of movie musicals based on shows, because it's hard to stick the landing...I don't know what a cinematic version of 'Hamilton' looks like. If I had, I'd have written it as a movie."
Hamilton is not, by the common definition, colorblind. It does not merely allow for some of the Founding Fathers to be played by people of color. It insists that all of them be.
Near-universal critical acclaim ...