“Hamilton” is becoming one of the most popular and lauded Broadway musicals of all time. The music and the rap sound is incredibly inspirational, but it’s also just plain catchy. These 40 facts about the Broadway mega-hit might just surprise you.
The Story Is Actually About Kanye
Everyone knows that the story was loosely based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, with a little hip hop thrown into the mix. However, Lin Manuel Miranda wanted everyone, including rap fans, to be able to fall in love with a Broadway show. The story does actually throw some shade.
Shade At Jay Z, That Is
Miranda told Complex magazine that “Hamilton” was also inspired by Kanye West’s rise to fame. The story is about how Kanye left Jay Z to write music on his own. Miranda stated that the Jay Z was Washington and Kanye was Hamilton. Yeeamilton.
“My Shot” Took A Year To Complete
“Hamilton” is one of the most elaborate shows that has ever been put on Broadway. The songs are intricate, the raps are fast, and the music is actual genius. Who even is Lin Manuel? Rap God! Most of the songs took at least six months to one year to create, meaning that the entire show was designed to be perfection. Each note and every musical chord was specifically hand-selected with great thought.
The Songs Were The Hardest Part
Both “My Shot” and “Alexander Hamilton” took over a year to perfect. The opening number, especially, was incredibly difficult because most of the casting was not done yet. We’re glad Miranda took the extra time to really get it right.
Lin Manuel Miranda’s Understudy Was Also His Understudy For In The Heights
Javier Muñoz is going to be taking the reigns as the Alexander Hamilton after Lin Manuel Miranda leaves the show. This is actually not too surprising because Muñoz was also Miranda’s understudy is his other masterpiece In The Heights.
Other Characters Are Leaving As Well
After Miranda announced that he was leaving the show, many of the other original cast members also decided to leave the show. Elizabeth Schuyler, Alexander’s wife will be played by other national tour In The Heights performer Lexi Lawson. This will be her first Broadway appearance!
“Dear Theodosia” is a song used to show that the lives of Hamilton and Burr are not that different. The song is both heartfelt and tender, describing their children and their family life. The song shows that even the “evil” character of the show has a very human quality.
The Song’s About A Puppy, Though
“Dear Theodosia” is actually about the puppy that Lin Manuel adopted. Influence for this amazing writer can be found literally everywhere! The song was also written to show that both Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were family men by nature. They both had large families.
“Wait For It” Was Inspired By A Friend’s Party
Have you ever gone to a party so good that you have to rush home to write about it? Or have you ever been on the subway and just thought, “this is exactly what Aaron Burr would say!” Well that’s exactly what happened to Lin Manuel Miranda.
The Party Was Just Too Good, Eh?
The refrain of “Wait For It” came to Lin Manuel Miranda fully-formed and complete after he rode the subway to a party. The back beat is almost the same bump of the train tracks and has traces of subway performers in it. So New York, and so cool! He sang the melody into his iPhone before going home to write it down.
Lin And The Director Are College BFF’s
Lin Manuel Miranda is so New York it’s almost painful. The Director of “Hamilton” and Lin both went to Wesleyan after Hunter College High School. Much of the influence for the show was taken directly from the Latin rap that was very popular in the New York heights.
Lin and Nas Are Becoming Buds
The original concept of “Hamilton” was just going to be a mix tape, however (thankfully) it became a full-fledged musical. In recent news though, “Hamilton” is going to become a real life mixtape with some help from Nas, Beyoncé , and Chance The Rapper.
Beyoncé Loves Jonathan Groff’s Walk
There is no higher compliment than one from Beyoncé. She is the queen of everything and when she wants to steal something, there is definitely no higher form of flattery. Beyoncé told Jonathan Groff that she wants to steal his King George walk. King George best bow down to Queen Bey.
Jonathan Groff And Lin Are Also BFF’s
Jonathan Groff was featured in Lin’s version of “Bet On It,” the Troy Bolton song from High School Musical. This is actually the first time that Jonathan Groff and Lin Manuel Miranda have ever worked together on a Broadway show. They totally saved the best for last.
The Harmonies Weren’t All Planned
During “The Schuyler Sisters” the three girls, Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Jasmine Cephas Jones weren’t originally supposed to sing their harmony at the end of the song. However, one day during practice they were just harmonizing for the fun of it, and they sounded so good that Miranda suggested that they add it to the show.
Some Of The Music Wasn’t Supposed To Be In The Show
The entire show is either sung or rapped over a bass beat. However, in the original version of production the show had dialogue and even some monologues. However, Miranda felt that if the show had too much vocal work that the music wouldn’t be as impressive. Good Call, Lin!
Leslie Odom Jr. Is A Singing God
During the recording of “Wait For It,” Leslie Odom’s voice almost made production stop. His vocals were ultimately so impressive that the cast kept missing their cues to sing backup for him. His voice was so impressive that he won the top award out there, the Tony Award, for his performance.
Leslie Odom Jr. Is Also A Recording Artist
The actor is impressive, however the singer is even more impressive. Leslie Odom Jr. released his first studio album in 2014, and it showcases his incredible vocals and his range. He sings songs from other Broadway shows including the tune “Guilty Ones” from the famous “Spring Awakening.”
The Whole Thing Was Inspired By A Biography
Lin Manuel Miranda definitely did his research properly. The entire show was based on Hamilton: The Biography by Ron Chernow. Miranda read the book while he was on vacation and was incredibly inspired by a poem that Hamilton wrote. He said, “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.”
The Show Also Had A Historian On Hand
Ron Chernow was on hand and became one of the historical consultants for the show. In fact, Miranda sang him the opening song before presenting it at the White House. This was to ensure that the story was depicted accurately, but also included all the drama that surrounded the real Alexander Hamilton’s life.
Albany Is Getting Some Unexpected Visitors
Alexander Hamilton, in the show and in real life, married Elizabeth Schuyler. The Schuylers were from the capital of New York, which is Albany. In real life the couple was married at The Schuyler Mansion, which has become somewhat of a local landmark for the city.
The Show Raises Money For Eliza Schuyler’s Orphanage
Eliza Schuyler, or Eliza Hamilton, started an orphanage after the murder of her husband in 1806 and was the first private orphanage in New York City. Today it still exists, however it is under the name Graham Windham. The stars of the show staged a performance and raised money for the orphanage.
It Is Going To Actually Be A Fire Mixtape
Like hip hop mixtapes today, “Hamilton” is definitely going to be fire. The shows writer says that the songs will not only be reworked, but they will be remixed so that they are more raw. “Hamilton” is going to become even more hip hop than it already is!
There Might Be A Rap Battle
What’s cooler than a mix tape, a historic rap battle? The new mix tape will also include a rap battle between Hamilton, Madison, and Jefferson where they talk about slavery. This is definitely going to delve into some socioeconomic commentary on modern times.
The Historical Aspect Of The Musical Almost Makes Sense
Even though there was a historian on hand for the writing, there are some flubs in the story. The Schuyler sisters were not the only Schuyler children. Phillip, their father, actually had 15 children. Meaning that none of the sisters were REALLY pressured to fall in love. However, we like the story this way — much more romantic.
Some Things Were Added Just For Drama
Some of the other ‘mistakes’ in “Hamilton” are simply to create more drama. Hamilton never punched a bursar in real life. That line was only used so that it could rhyme with, “Burr, sir.” Catchy, we know — but also wrong.
Ja Rule Was An Influence
The 90s rap scene was definitely an influence for Miranda and he used specific and direct pulls from certain R & B songs. The song “Helpless” is loosely based on old Ja Rule and Jennifer Lopez songs. This is the reason for the random rap break in the middle of the song — Miranda just wanted to have some fun.
Biggie And Tupac Were Also Influences
Both of these rap stars were clear influences, not only because of their music, but also because of their lives. Both of those rappers rose to fame very quickly and worked hard. Also, like Alexander Hamilton their lives were cut short, and their legacies are still regarded as epic.
There Are No Beat Breaks
Like rock operas, this musical has absolutely no music breaks. Even some small dialogue is sung or stated over music. The beat itself also barely breaks during the raps. Daveed Diggs, who plays Lafeyette, has the record for fastest rap on Broadway, where he sings over 20 words in 3 seconds. He is a rapper, actor, and now record holder! Impressive!
The Music Repeats Itself
In order to keep a consistency throughout the show, many of the characters have “catchphrases,” or notable melodies that they continue to sing. For example, Eliza sings “Helpless” in the song “Helpless,” but also in “Satisfied.” This little trick makes Hamilton creative, but also familiar.
Hamilton Might Not Have Been Played By Lin
Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the show, so the guy could essentially cast himself in any role. However, it was a difficult decision for him. Miranda had trouble choosing between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Miranda saw himself in both characters.
Aaron Burr Isn’t Really That Evil
Yes, he ends up killing Alexander Hamilton. However, there is some good that can be seen in Aaron Burr. Miranda says, “Burr is every bit as smart as Hamilton, and every bit as gifted, and he comes from the same amount of loss as Hamilton. But because of the way they are wired Burr hangs back where Hamilton charges forward. I feel like I have been Burr in my life as many times as I have been Hamilton.”
The Casting Was Incredibly Deliberate
Hamilton was critiqued heavily because it was a “color blind” show, meaning that literally anyone could play any of the characters. This was seen as being historically inaccurate, however Lin Manuel Miranda wanted to give the opportunity to play any character to anyone. He even went as far to say that women would be allowed to play male characters in the future.
The Casting Was To Show Today, Not Yesterday
The casting of the show was not supposed to show the hierarchy of revolutionary America, but was to show the society that exists today. “Our goal was: This is a story about America then, told by America now, and we want to eliminate any distance—our story should look the way our country looks,” Miranda stated.
Celebrities Are Flocking
Literally everyone is going to see “Hamilton!” Even presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has joined in on the fun. Bernie and Beyoncé. They are also bringing in children as well! Every Wednesday, the show holds children-only performances, where children from public borough schools are taken to see the musical. This is Lin Manuel Miranda’s effort to increase children’s knowledge of American history, but also to get them interested in stage performance.
Visitors Have To Sign A Hamilton Cutout
When celebrities come to see the show, the have to get their picture taken with a life-sized cut-out of the treasurer himself, Alexander Hamilton. They also have to sign their name for proof. This makes “Hamilton” much more than just a musical, but also an American masterpiece. The last time that people, young children, and teenagers were this invested in a show was the rock opera musical “RENT.”
The Old Face Of Broadway Approved The New Face
Stephen Sondheim is definitely the king of old Broadway, while Lin is the king of the new! Sondheim was at the fore front of 1960s Broadway renaissance and he changed the game with his Puerto Rican-inspired “West Side Story.”
The Two Of Them Had A Broadway Pow-Wow
Sondheim stated, “He sent me lyrics printed out, and recordings of the songs. This raised obvious red flags: I worried that an evening of rap might get monotonous; I thought the rhythm might become relentless. But the wonderful thing about Lin-Manuel’s use of rap is that he’s got one foot in the past. He knows theater… ‘Hamilton’ is a breakthrough… We’ll certainly see more rap musicals. The next thing we’ll get is Lincoln set to rap. If you think I’m kidding, talk to me in a year.”
POTUS Accepts It
Lin Manuel Miranda was first asked to perform “Hamilton” at an open mic performance at The White House. The President and The First Lady were taken back by how good it was, even though the plot of the story could be viewed as corny by some. However, Barack Obama loves rap, and said that this show was hip hop gold.
Future Presidents Should See It
The show is not just about history, it’s about the American nation in the past and in the present. It shows that no matter where you come from or what you look like, hard work will always pay off. “Hamilton” is definitely an American classic.