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1. History, refreshed. Hamilton zooms in on Alexander Hamilton, the oft-forgotten founding father whose rags-to-riches life seems prime for a juicy retelling. Besides being a chief aide to general George Washington during the Revolutionary War, the primary author of the landmark Federalist Papers and the first Treasury Secretary, he was involved in the country’s first national political sex scandal and died dramatically at the hands of his rival, Aaron Burr. Like Selma zoomed in on Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s personal life, this show’s plot goes beyond politics.
2. Casting is key. In the same way Fresh Off the Boat, Empire and Jane the Virgin refreshed the face of television (finally!), Hamilton’s cast is mostly composed of black, Hispanic and Asian-American actors — a breakthrough, especially since they’re playing George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and discussing topics like slavery, immigration, freedom and equality. The only white actor with a major part is Jonathan Groff, who comically plays King George.
3. Hip-hop onstage. Yes, you read that right. The sung-through musical’s score is composed completely of rap, hip-hop and pop songs. Though such musical genres have previously failed miserably on Broadway (ouch to that Tupac Shakur-based show … ), the music written by the Tony- and Grammy-winning In the Heights’ composer Lin-Manuel Miranda is so grounded in the urban sounds that The Roots’ Questlove and Black Thought are producing the cast recording.
4. Access for everyone. Since jumping to Broadway from its award-winning, off-Broadway run at The Public, the production has hosted a lottery for a select number of $10 tickets — the lowest around town for any major show, and complete with personal appearances by Manuel and the cast to thank the hundreds that show up with a short performance. Even more so, producers chose to begin previews in July to entertain as many theatergoers as possible.
5. Star-studded support. From Hollywood to Washington, D.C., everyone — seriously, everyone — is flocking to the Richard Rodgers Theater for a performance, including Robert De Niro, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Roberts, Jon Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Judd Apatow, President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton, to name just a few. Though it’s already sold-out for months and months, the show just opened up a new block of seats through June 2016.
Check out his early version of the opening number below.
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