'Hamilton' to Gift 20,000 NYC Public School Students With Show Tickets

Hamilton Play, Opening Night - H 2015
AP Images

Hamilton Play, Opening Night - H 2015

The 2016 program will make the American history-based production accessible to 11th graders with $10 tickets to exclusive Wednesday matinees, complete with a cast Q&A.

The hottest tickets in town are headed to New York City's public schools.

Hamilton -- the sold-out, critically acclaimed Broadway musical that follows the life of Alexander Hamilton with hip-hop music and colorblind casting -- is partnering with The Rockefeller Foundation to provide 20,000 NYC students each year with tickets to the show, via a $1.46 million grant.

The program, which will launch in 2016, will make the American history-based production accessible to 11th graders with $10 tickets to Wednesday matinees, both exclusively for students and as part of regular performances. The first exclusive student matinee, on April 13, will begin with a 90-minute morning session that prepares students for the show and invites them onstage to perform pieces inspired by Hamilton (as informed by the show's new pre-performance guide for students), followed by a Q&A with the cast. After a lunch break, they'll return to the theater for the performance.

"#Ham4Ham for high school students," producer Jeffrey Seller told reporters Tuesday morning while onstage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. New York City schools chancellor Carmen Farina stressed further that this grant is not a free gift but an educational opportunity to experience history and the arts in a groundbreaking manner: "This isn't just a day in the theater but part of the curriculum."

“As a hip-hop fan, it’s so great to be able to say, The Rock[efeller] is in the building!” laughed creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who recounted the lifelong effect of seeing Les MIserables as a child. "I know that show like I know my family tree.... It’s just part of the vocabulary of my brain.... That’s because of exposure to a show at a very young age."

Miranda, a former 7th-grade English teacher at his own high school, hopes to continue the initiative when the show eventually tours. “We’re not gonna make 1,300 musical theater writers with every production, or even 1,300 musicians. But if nothing else, Hamilton is the story of someone who made the most of the time he had, and we can at least inspire that in every 11th grader.”