In little more than a year, “Hamilton” has gone from an underestimated off-Broadway historical musical to the sort of critically-acclaimed, moneymaking, culture-shifting juggernaut that only comes along once in a generation. It is appropriate, then, that actor/composer/rapper/writer/genius (literally — he won a MacArthur “Genius” Award) Lin-Manuel Miranda rides off into a triumphant sunset Saturday (July 9).
Miranda’s retreat from the musical that made him a household name is so significant, in fact, that the curtain call will be broadcast on the show’s Facebook page sometime around 10:45 PM ET/7:45 PT.
So, let’s honor a living legend by raising a glass to the Union and remembering these 5 times when Manuel’s “Hamilton” made history.
For the kids
Earlier this month, Miranda announced a $6 million educational partnership which will allow public school children in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC to attend “Hamilton” as part of their American History studies. It is estimated that 100,000 students will not only get to say that they caught the hottest ticket on Broadway, but will also watch their history books come alive in the process. Keep in mind, this is only one of several such efforts Miranda spearheaded.
It’s not uncommon that Broadway fans wait in lengthy lines, attempting to win a lottery that could score them a ticket to a hot show. What is uncommon, however, is that the star of the show would surprise those in line with a live performance featuring high-wattage guest stars.
But that’s exactly what Miranda did, time and again throughout his run — and as he gave his farewell “Ham4Ham” performance Wednesday (July 6), he told the story of how it all began.
Giving rap respect
Prior to “Hamilton,” it would be extremely unlikely that an American History scholar would fully appreciate hip-hop, and vice versa. But while calling the songs in the production “some of the most densely packed, complex rhyming lyrics in the history of musicals,” The Wall Street Journal recently explored the impressive alchemy behind it all. Using a unique algorithm, check out the article to fully appreciate how the lyrics break words down into component sounds, powerfully crossing musical lines.
Inspiring a new generation
Eighteen months ago, there was a slim-to-none chance that any college graduates anywhere were looking to the tale of Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers for inspiration as they headed out into the world. Now, Miranda’s words and lyrics have made such an impact that the lines between centuries have blurred in an amazing way.
Impacting modern politics
If you can inspire theaters full of Broadway patrons every evening, that’s impressive. If you can make children want to learn history, or send college grads into the world with your lyrics ringing in their ears, that’s even better. But when no less than the leader of the free world (and, perhaps, the next one) insists that you perform at the White House while counting himself as one of your biggest fans? Now you’re influencing history — past, present and future — on a truly unprecedented scale. Goodbye and good luck, Lin-Manuel, we may never see a phenomenon quite like yours ever again.