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when did hamilton open on broadway?
On August 6, 2016, Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Hamilton opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
To call the celebratory star-studded is putting it mildly. The show welcomed celebrities from all facets of the entertainment industry: from the music world, Busta Rhymes and Jon Bon Jovi; from Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson and Sally Field; from Broadway, Chita Rivera and James Monroe Iglehart. And many, many others.
After beginning as a song delivered at the White House in 2009, the Tony-, Pulitzer-, and Olivier-winning Hamilton now celebrates six years on Broadway.
The musical made its debut at the Public Theatre in 2015 to rave reviews, transferring to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre to begin previews July 13, 2015, and officially opening August 6. The production earned 16 Tony Award nominations, winning 11, including Best Musical.
Featuring music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton tells the story of Revolutionary War hero and political mastermind Alexander Hamilton while exploring America’s fiery beginnings.
The original Broadway production starred Miranda as Hamilton, Leslier Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr, Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Jonathan Groff as King George, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, and Javier Muñoz as the Alexander Hamilton alternate. Rounding out the cast Carleigh Bettiol, Ariana DeBose, Sydney James Harcourt, Sasha Hutchings, Thayne Jasperson, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Jon Rua, Austin Smith, Seth Stewart, Betsy Struxness, and Ephraim Sykes. The company featured Alysa Deslorieux as standby and Neil Haskell, Stephanie Klemons, Morgan Marcell, and Voltaire Wade-Greene as swings.
‘Hamilton’ was originally going to be a concept album
Miranda discovered Alexander Hamilton in 2008, while on vacation in Mexico. Coming off the success of his first hit show, “In the Heights,” Miranda was reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton when he got the idea to turn it into a hip-hop album, the Deseret News reported.
“It’s a concept album about the life of someone I think embodies hip-hop: Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton,” Miranda said while introducing the musical’s opening song at the “White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word” in May 2009.
“He was born a penniless orphan in St. Croix of illegitimate birth, became George Washington’s right-hand man, became treasury secretary, caught beef with every other founding father, and all on the strength of his writing,” Miranda continued. “He embodies the word’s ability to make a difference.”
Hamilton was inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton.
Not long after his show In the Heights won four Tony Awards in 2008, Lin-Manuel Miranda went on vacation. Before he left, he picked up a biography called Alexander Hamilton. “I was just browsing the biography section. It could have been Truman,” he told 60 Minutes. “I got to the part where a hurricane destroys St. Croix, where Hamilton is living. And he writes a poem about the carnage and this poem gets him off the island.”
“That is part and parcel with the hip-hop narrative: writing your way out of your circumstances, writing the future you want to see for yourself,” Miranda told The New York Times. “This is a guy who wrote at 14, ‘I wish there was a war.’ It doesn’t get more hip-hop than that.”
Miranda recalled to Vogue that “I Googled ‘Alexander Hamilton hip-hop musical’ and totally expected to see that someone had already written it. But no. So I got to work.”
Hamilton started as a mixtape, not a musical.
Initially, Miranda said he was working on a concept album inspired by the life of Alexander Hamilton called The
Hamilton Mixtape. “I always had an eye toward the stage for the story of Hamilton’s life, but I began with the idea of a concept album, the way Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar were albums before they were musicals,” Miranda recounted to the Hollywood Reporter. “And I built this score by dream casting my favorite artists. I always imagined George Washington as a mix between Common and John Legend (a pretty good description of Christopher Jackson, actually, who plays our first president); Hercules Mulligan was Busta Rhymes; and Hamilton was modeled after my favorite polysyllabic rhyming heroes, Rakim, Big Pun, and Eminem.”
The reason, he told The New York Times, was because “I wanted to be a little more selfish with this—I wanted the lyrics to have the density that my favorite hip-hop albums have … It was easier to think of it as a hip-hop album, because then I could really just pack the lyrics. [But] I only know how to write musicals.” He performed 12 musical numbers from The Hamilton Mixtape at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series in January 2012; he began workshopping the show in 2014. It played The Public beginning in January 2015 and made the jump to Broadway in July 2015 (it officially opened in August).
how did Hamilton make his way?
As a teenage clerk, he showed such prowess in writing about a hurricane that struck the island of Christiansted that a group of elders teamed up to send him to King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York. Once there, however, he set his heart on achieving glory in the War of Independence and was soon captaining an artillery division, before becoming aide-de-camp to General George Washington, a non-combat role. But Hamilton insisted on returning to action, and in the last major battle of the war, he led a bayonet charge against besieged British forces in 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia (now about seven hours’ drive from New York), which led to the decisive surrender of General Cornwallis’s army.
In the same period, he co-founded the first bank in North America and married Elizabeth Schuyler, the daughter of a general, whom he had met the year before the battle. Then, with the war almost over, he resigned his commission to return to New York to join his wife and their son. They would have eight children together.
In New York, he worked as a lawyer, and helped to forge the US Constitution. He also founded the Bank of New York (alongside the man who would later kill him). When George Washington became the first President of the United States, he made Hamilton his Treasury Secretary. In that role, he established a trading relationship with Britain, opposed slavery and created the first national bank.
how did Hamilton make his way?
But in the same year, Hamilton got involved in an expensive affair with 23-year-old Maria Reynolds, whose husband apparently encouraged the liaison, demanding vast sums in hush money, starting with a payment of $1,000.
Hamilton would later air all his dirty laundry in the first political sex scandal of the new country, detailing the ins and outs of the tawdry business to avoid accusations of embezzlement.
He was busily creating enemies, too. Trading insults with one of his critics, George Eacker, cost the life of his
eldest son, Philip, who challenged Eacker to a duel; the 19-year-old was shot and died 14 hours later in the arms of his father and pregnant mother.
The couple would name the new baby Philip, too, and take him home to the newly built family mansion, Hamilton Grange, in Harlem (now relocated to nearby St Nicholas Park and open all year round, from Wednesday to Sunday). But the statesman, though not yet 50, would not live to see his youngest son grow up. In 1804, Hamilton made an enemy of former attorney general Aaron Burr by
ruining his chances of winning the governorship of New York.
Hamilton’s refusal to apologise led to a duel between the two men, at which Hamilton announced he intended to fire away from his opponent. On the morning of 11 July, both were rowed across the Hudson from Manhattan
to New Jersey (you can still take the ferry across to visit the memorial in Weehawken). Hamilton’s shot hit a tree, Burr’s struck his opponent in the lower abdomen. He died the following afternoon, and is buried,
next to his wife Eliza, in Trinity Churchyard, at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street.
When you ask someone about Hamilton, they’re going to want to tell you about the importance of the diversity of character casting; how it’s a masterpiece of historical analysis while also a pointed commentary on modern society; how it catapults women to the forefront; and how it uses musical styles to serve the story in a completely unique way.
‘Hamilton’ Musical character list
First, let’s start with a simple list of the main Hamilton characters in the musical, like Burr, Hamilton, and Lafayette. More details are further down:
- Alexander Hamilton (duh)
- Aaron Burr
- George Washington
- Eliza Schuyler
- Angelica Schuyler
- Peggy Schuyler
- John Laurens
- Marquis de Lafayette
- Hercules Mulligan
- Thomas Jefferson
- James Madison
- Philip Hamilton
- Maria Reynolds
- Charles Lee
- Samuel Seabury
- King George III