27 Days of 'Hamilton' in Pittsburgh the Broadway Smash Is Set to Spend Nearly a Month at the Benedum Center

By Eberson, Sharon | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), December 30, 2018 | Go to article overview

27 Days of 'Hamilton' in Pittsburgh the Broadway Smash Is Set to Spend Nearly a Month at the Benedum Center


Eberson, Sharon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Pittsburghers are about to see what all the fuss is about when "Hamilton" spends 27 days at the Benedum Center, Downtown.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical masterpiece illustrates the possibilities of finding common ground through art. In musical theater, there is a before "Hamilton" and an after "Hamilton." Since opening on Broadway in 2015, the show continues to unite people of every background and attracts generations of fans, with parents and their children of all ages getting to know every word - all 20,000 of them.

History with its eye on diversity and a mix of genres from classical to rapid-fire rap have proved to be something nearly everyone can agree on, no matter where they come from or their politics. And Mr. Miranda, the savvy MacArthur genius, further endeared his show to fans by creating live and digital outreach projects that met Hamilfans' passion with content above and beyond the show itself.

"Hamilton" spawned #Ham4Ham, a free one-tune showcase, usually pre-show on Wednesdays and Saturdays, of not only the musical's own stars, performing at the doors of the Richard Rodgers Theater but also, eventually, a spotlight for "Hamilton's" Broadway neighbors. You might see the three stars who played King George to that time - Brian d'Arcy James, Andrew Rannells and Jonathan Groff - channeling the show's Schuyler sisters, or Tony winners such as Audra McDonald or Patti LuPone belting their hearts out.

This is a show with as much heart onstage as it has off, in all its incarnations. The latest company has been assembled in Puerto Rico, led by Mr. Miranda himself, as a way to help the island of his ancestors recover from Hurricane Maria.

It was a 1772 hurricane on St. Croix that launched Alexander Hamilton - the $10 Founding Father and first head of the U.S. Treasury - toward America. A letter he wrote about the devastation was published in a newspaper, and young Alexander's fellow islanders were so impressed, they funded his immigration to New York to get a gentleman's education.

As the show that reintroduced Alexander Hamilton to his fellow Americans makes its way to the Benedum Center Tuesday through Jan. 27, here are 27 fun facts for each day of "Hamilton" in Pittsburgh.

1. The first votes of approval came when Lin-Manuel Miranda was invited to a White House Poetry Jam in 2009 to perform music from his Tony Award-winning "In the Heights." He went off script. In front of a crowd including President and Mrs. Barack Obama, he explained he instead had a song about "someone who I think embodies hip-hop, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton." He performed the song, which had taken him a year to write. It would be another year before he finished another song for the show.

2. Mr. Miranda discovered his connection to Hamilton when he met his destiny by taking along the Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton on vacation. His second choice had been a biography of Harry Truman. That would have been a very different musical.

3. Yes, of course there are Pittsburgh connections. Original stars Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr) and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler) graduated from Carnegie Mellon University - she had her first professional stage role in Pittsburgh CLO's "A Musical Christmas Carol" - and director Thomas Kail's mother hails from Squirrel Hill.

4. The tour is no exception to the musical's Pittsburgh ties - mad King George is played by Peter Matthew Smith of Sewickley. The Point Park and PMT alum's dad, Bruce Smith, is part of the triumvirate of producers that form Pittsburgh's summer musical company Front Porch Theatrical.

5. King George, BTW, makes one of the most memorable and shortest appearances in a musical to earn a Tony nomination - for Jonathan Groff, star of the filmed-in-Pittsburgh Netflix series "Mindhunter." He has an estimated 9 minutes of stage time.

6. When Beyonce visited the Broadway cast backstage, she told Mr. …

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