Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hit at the Public Theater
On July 13, 2015, the highly anticipated new musical Hamilton began previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. The official opening night is scheduled for August 6, 2015. With book, lyrics, and music by Lin Manuel-Miranda (In the Heights), Hamilton had its New York premiere at the Off-Broadway Public Theater in the East Village, with previews beginning on January 20, 2015, its official opening night on February 17, 2015, and wrapping up performances on May 3, 2015. The show was directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who are the same director and choreographer as for the Broadway production. The show is inspired by the life story of United States founding father Alexander Hamilton, and is specifically based off of the biography Alexander Hamilton written by Ron Chernow. Chernow has served as the historical consultant for this production. When the show premiered Off-Broadway, critics far and wide hailed it as a magnificent achievement. With so much buzz, the producers considering bringing it to Broadway in time for Tony Awards consideration in 2015. However, with the Public Theater’s Fun Home also competing for Best Musical (which it ended up winning), and with the creative team of Hamilton believing more work could be done to perfect the musical, the show’s Broadway transfer was delayed until the summer.
Not only did Lin Manuel-Miranda write the book, lyrics, and music for Hamilton, but he also takes to the stage in this production, playing the role of Hamilton himself. There is also an alternate actor to play Hamilton on select performances, that is Javier Muñoz. This weekend in particular, President Obama and his two daughters attended the matinee performance of Hamilton on Saturday; this day was scheduled to be a day when Miranda sat in the audience to watch the show, and on which Muñoz would perform the title role. Even though the Obamas came for this performance, Miranda stuck to his original plan and sat in the audience to watch his show for the first time as an audience member. The concept of this show is a fresh take on the story of Alexander Hamilton. Rather than being rooted in the principally white background of the forefathers of this country, Miranda opted to embrace the racial diversity present in modern day America, incorporating R&B, jazz, hip hop, tin pan alley, and contemporary Broadway style music into his compositions. The casting incorporates a vast amount of racial diversity, and the show has been praised for its cultural reimagining of this time period.
A Stellar Supporting Cast and Creative Team
In addition to Lin Manuel-Miranda in the title role, the cast includes Jonathan Groff as King George, Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, and Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler. The scenic design is by David Korins, the costume design is by Paul Tazewell, the lighting design is by Howell Binkley, the sound design is by Nevin Steinberg, and the hair and wig design is by Charles G. LaPointe. Overall, this cast and creative team is sure to make a big splash on Broadway, and even though they missed the Tony Awards this time around, the buzz this show is generating implies that it will be a major contender at the Tony Awards in 2016.