It may be a historic weekend at the Tony Awards as “Hamilton” attempts to become the most award winning musical in Broadway history, but the show wasn’t always a phenomenon.
Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda first planted the seeds of the show at the White House’s poetry jam in 2009.
Before breaking into rhyme, Miranda explained to the audience, which included President Obama, that he was working on a concept album about someone who he thinks “embodies hip hop.”
“Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton,” he said to the audience, which couldn’t help but laugh.
Miranda then led into what would become the opening song of a musical that would transform American theater.
Seven years later, the laughter has turned to mania as thousands waited outside New York’s Richard Rodgers Theatre in the rain earlier this week hoping for a chance to get into the proverbial room where it happens.
“I have a better chance at winning the New York lottery,” said Kate Odulukwe, 21, who with $10 and dream was hoping to hear her name called. “I wish I was in A.P. history in high school when this came out because it would be so much easier.”
“Hamilton,” the hip-hop musical about the American Revolution, is not just reimagining U.S. history, it’s reimagining Broadway.
It has done this by becoming a work of American art that is enjoyed by pretty much everybody.
The show’s message of unity is seemingly a welcome one in the midst of a polarized political season. It feels like The Richard Rodgers Theatre is the one place in America not split into red and blue.
“‘Hamilton,’ I’m pretty sure, is the only thing that Dick Cheney and I agree on,” President Obama said in March.
Its universal appeal can also be seen in its ubiquitous acclaim.
The musical has won a Grammy, a Pulitzer, and garnered a record-breaking 16 nominations at this Sunday’s Tony Awards.
There’s also its clothing line, popular soundtrack, books, and apparent ability to impact the government’s decisions regarding who is on currency.
So even if “Hamilton” doesn’t win awards on Sunday night (it will), it has already engrained itself in American popular culture.
That said, to actually see the show, you have go into deep debt or prayer with tickets going for more than $1,500 on StubHub.
But you don’t have to be in the audience to experience “Hamilton.” With its ethnically diverse cast as our nation’s Founding Fathers and multi-genre music, ‘Hamilton’ is of people, for the people.
“As a person of color, I feel like people are really getting to see someone who looks like them on stage,” Odulukwe said. “And despite casting people of color, it’s still telling a truth that everyone can connect with.”