|Lin-Manuel Miranda /|
Writer, composer, star, genius of "Hamilton".
As the writer, composer, and star of the Broadway smash-hit Hamilton, Miranda is changing the way that people consider one of the Founding Fathers and the era he lived in. It puts him in lofty territory, alongside how Shakespeare transformed Richard III, and how the author Leon Uris romanticized the founding of Israel in his novel Exodus.
The recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" grant, the 36-year-old Miranda relies on the core elements of hip-hop and R & B-inspired music as well as jazz, pop and Tin Pan Alley – plus a racially-diverse cast – to make history as relatable as possible. Hamilton has become a certifiable Broadway box office hit – tickets are sold out into early 2017 – and the musical is centered around a story arc that related Hamilton's life story, from his orphaned upbringing in the West Indies to his death in a duel at the hands of Aaron Burr.
"This is a story about America then, told by America now," said Miranda, a native New Yorker, in an interview with The Atlantic, "and we want to eliminate any distance between a contemporary audience and this story."
|The real Alexander Hamilton (L) and Lin-Manuel Miranda,|
who portrays the First U.S. Treasury Secretary in "Hamilton".
"Perhaps the most significant lesson the show might teach audiences, and one particular relevance today, is the outsized role immigrants have played in the nation's history. Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant – a fact that Miranda repeatedly emphasizes throughout the show – and the musical also prominently features the Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who played a crucial role during the revolutionary war."
|Lin-Manuel Miranda / The artist at work.|
Hamilton dates back to May 12, 2009, when Miranda performed "The Hamilton Mixtape" before an audience that included President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken World, accompanied by pianist Alex Lacamoire.
|Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) translated the history of the|
unlikely rise and untimely fall of the first U.S. Treasury
Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, in "Hamilton".
The original cast recording, produced by The Roots' Questlove and Black Thought – which has been a constant companion of mine in my car stereo the past couple of weeks – recently garnered a Grammy Award, and Hamilton most assuredly and deservedly will clean up at this summer's Tony Awards.
"I don't know how many really good ideas you get in a lifetime," Miranda recalled in a December 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, "But the idea of telling Hamilton as a hip-hop story was definitely one because you get to do everything: love and death and a war and duels and revenge and affairs and sex scandals."
One thing's certain: thanks to Miranda's genius, Hamilton is having a positive influence in altering our perception of American history, and the role in which artists are helping shape the historical narrative.