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But Lin-Manuel Miranda and his diverse cast weren’t in Staples Center in Los Angeles. Instead, they performed the show’s opening number, “Alexander Hamilton,” live from the room where it happens, Hamilton‘s home at New York’s Richard Rodgers Theatre.
“We’ve never done any live performances in front of a televised audience,” said producer Jeffrey Seller of performing in the theater instead of Staples Center. “It’s always been important for us to perform in context. Once [Grammy executives] said, ‘We’ll come to you,’ we knew it would work.”
The performance began with Leslie Odom Jr.’s Aaron Burr and other castmembers taking the stage one by one as they sang biographical snippets about the founding father before asking, “What’s your name?” With that, writer-star Miranda appeared onstage, announcing himself as Alexander Hamilton to thunderous applause from the audience in the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The applause continued into Miranda’s next line even though he paused.
As the song continued, more aspects of Hamilton’s biography were acted out by castmembers as dancers and Miranda moved around the stage, with Hamilton trading in his beige coat for one in a richer brown color.
The performance also received an enthusiastic round of applause in the theater when it ended.
The performance was introduced by CBS’ New York-based Late Show host and two-time Grammy winner (Who’s counting? He is!) Stephen Colbert, who talked about the buzz around the musical from the stage, with what looked like a packed house behind him.
“I am thrilled not only to score a very hot ticket but to introduce to the Grammy audience a singular show that is making the best kind of history,” Colbert said, calling the musical a “theatrical mixtape, telling the true tale of one of our founding fathers.”
He added: “This is a New York story. This is an American story. This is like nothing you have ever experienced.”
Earlier in the show, Colbert teased the Hamilton performance via video from outside the theater, where the late-night host quipped of the cold, snowy weather in New York: “I really should be wearing a coat.”
He also joked that he had trouble getting a ticket to the sold-out musical, saying the first show he could find tickets available for online was a Sunday matinee in 2018.
The wait could be even longer for those looking to purchase tickets after Monday night’s performance brought the show to a nationwide audience.
Shortly after the show’s performance, Hamilton won the Grammy for best musical theater album, beating An American in Paris, Fun Home, The King and I and Something Rotten! Miranda rapped his thank-yous surrounded by the cast from the stage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
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