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‘Hamilton’ musical was ‘no overnight success’, says creator Lin
It’s been one of the most-talked about Broadway shows of the past few years, and now, the musical tale “Hamilton” has set its sights on international markets.
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Award-winning ‘Hamilton’ musical was ‘no overnight success’, says creator Lin-Manuel Miranda
Published Thu, Dec 28 20178:08 AM ESTUpdated Thu, Dec 28 20179:10 AM EST
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Music director Alex Lacamoire and Actor, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda celebrate on stage during ‘Hamilton’ GRAMMY performance for The 58th GRAMMY AwardsTheo Wargo | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
It’s been one of the most-talked about Broadway shows of the past few years, and now, the U.S. musical tale “Hamilton” has set its sights on international markets, debuting in the English capital of London in December.
So far, the sung- and rapped-through musical has garnered huge success, having received a GRAMMY award, a Pulitzer Prize, and a number of Tony Awards.
So how did its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda get inspired to take on the story of one of the U.S. Founding Fathers and the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton? It all began with picking up Ron Chernow’s “incredible biography” on the historic American figure.
“I knew about as much as anyone did about Alexander Hamilton, before I picked up Ron Chernow’s incredible biography,” musical creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, told CNBC.
“I knew that he was on our $10 bill in the States and I knew that he died in a duel. You know you learn that in high school and that was about it.”
“And that was enough for me to pick up a book off the shelf and I was going on vacation with my then-girlfriend, now wife, and I just wanted a big book to read.”
Alexander Hamilton ‘created this financial system,’ musical’s creator says
Speaking in London ahead of the West End premiere of “Hamilton” last week, the creator told CNBC that he was “swept up” by the story of the first U.S. treasury secretary, but added that it took several years for Miranda to fashion an adaptation on Hamilton’s life and to turn it into an international success.
“I was swept up by the story. I thought it ‘out-Dickens’ Dickens in the unlikeliness of this man’s rise from his humble beginnings in Nevis in the Caribbean, to changing, helping shape our young nation. And it’s uniquely an immigrant story and it’s uniquely a story about writers,” said Miranda.
“It took me seven years to write this show. This is no overnight success — took me a year to write the second song in the show ‘my shot.’ I’m in awe of people who can just write well and quickly.”
“And it took me a long time to be able to write about that guy, but that was sort of what inspired me about his story.”
Miranda admitted to CNBC that he was “incredibly humbled” by the reception that the show has received, adding that it was “really overwhelming” to see how this part of U.S. history had been awakened within a younger generation.
Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the curtain call for ‘Hamilton’ Chicago opening night at PrivateBank Theatre on October 19, 2016 in ChicagoDaniel Boczarski | WireImage | Getty Images
Transferring the all-American story of Alexander Hamilton to the U.K.’s West End in London meanwhile raises questions as to how powerful this historical account will be received outside of the States. The musical creator said that the British-based audience was “exactly like New York,” however, when Miranda attended the previews.
In terms of what he wants audiences to take away from this story, Miranda explained how Hamilton’s life had “a lot of lessons in it.”
“I think one of them is: your story will be told by those who survive you, you have no control over that. You can only control what you do and what you put into the world,” said Miranda.
“Hamilton put a lot into the world in his short time and he was outlived by his enemies for a really long time. But he was also outlived by his wife who was, to me, the hero of the show.”
″(Hamilton’s wife) leaves an incredible legacy of her own. And I think that’s what moves people, is the notion of what do we do with the time we have on this planet.”Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook. Don’t miss: Who is likely to make the headlines in 2018 ‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda: I’ve done this American history musical as ‘well as I think I can do it’ Gwyneth Paltrow on keeping yourself grounded, and other advice for new careers
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Miranda's blend of theater and hip-hop has transformed musical theater. Here's how he got his start, and what he's got lined up for the future.
How Lin-Manuel Miranda's non-stop work ethic from a young age made 'Hamilton' one of the most successful musicals of all time
Gabbi Shaw Updated Jan 23, 2021, 12:45 PM
Lin-Manuel Miranda in "Hamilton." Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
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Download the appLin-Manuel Miranda rose to fame for his Broadway musical, "Hamilton" — he worked on the show for years, and it became one of the biggest musicals of all time.Miranda's unconventional blend of musical theater and hip-hop, as well as a passion for diverse representation in the entertainment industry, has transformed musical theater. The success of "Hamilton" has led to a promising career writing music for movies like "Moana" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and his upcoming directorial debut, "Tick, Tick ... Boom!"
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Lin-Manuel Miranda seemingly came out of nowhere. After creating "Hamilton," he became a household name, and his career has skyrocketed in the years since.
"Hamilton," which he wrote and starred in, made its off-Broadway debut in 2015, and it quickly became one of the most popular and most profitable musicals of all time. It easily ranks among modern classics like "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Lion King," and "Wicked."
Before Broadway shut down in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, "Hamilton" was still one of the most popular shows on Broadway. Tickets were still hundreds of dollars (or thousands on resale websites), and had to be purchased months in advance.
But "Hamilton" wasn't Miranda's first big hit. He also wrote and starred in "In the Heights," a musical combining hip-hop and salsa that he started to work on while he was in college, which also has a theatrical version all lined up for 2021. In just over a decade, he has won the MacArthur Genius Grant, a Pulitzer Prize, an Emmy, three Tonys, and three Grammys. He's just an "O" away from earning an EGOT — one of the most impressive feats in show business.
As he turns 41 on January 16, we've profiled the rise of Miranda's booming career, to see how he did it and how he continues to aim higher every day.
Carrie Wittmer contributed to a previous version of this article.
Lin-Manuel Miranda had been interested in musical theater from an early age.
Lin-Manuel Miranda in 2008. Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Miranda was born in New York City and grew up in upper Manhattan — specifically Washington Heights.
He credits his inspiration for a career in musicals to "Les Misérables," the first show he saw on Broadway. He saw it with his family when he was 7 years old — you can see him praise the show during his Carpool Karaoke appearance.
His music tastes eventually evolved to include R&B and hip-hop, but musical theater was always a passion. When he attended Hunter College High School, he participated in musical theater.
Most importantly, in college, he started writing his first musical, "In the Heights," that would eventually make it to Broadway.
In college, Miranda wrote the music and lyrics for his first musical, "In the Heights," which he also starred in. It would go on to debut on Broadway in 2008.
Miranda celebrating after his win for Best Musical for "In the Heights." Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images
Miranda's non-stop work ethic started in college at Wesleyan University. He wrote an early draft of his first musical, "In the Heights," when he was a sophomore in 1999. The show was added to Wesleyan's student theater company, Second Stage, and played in April 2000.
The lively musical combines hip-hop with salsa and Latin sounds, and is set in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, a Hispanic-American neighborhood close to where Miranda grew up.
After the show's debut, Miranda was approached about expanding the show into a Broadway production. After a run in Connecticut in 2005, "In the Heights" made its premiere on Broadway in February 2008, when Miranda was 28 years old. The show received mostly positive reviews, with many critics noting Miranda's emotional lyrics as its strength.
"In the Heights" was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won four, including Best Musical and Best Original Score, and the show ended its run in 2011. By then, Miranda was already two years into his work on his biggest hit to date, "Hamilton."
But while he was developing his first musical, Miranda was hustling to support himself with other jobs.
Miranda. Kevin Winter/Getty Images
After college, when Miranda was in his 20s and supporting himself while working on "In the Heights," he wrote political jingles.
Miranda wrote the jingles in English and Spanish for ads for politicians including Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York. He got the work through his father, who worked as a political consultant.
Even when Miranda was supporting his career in music, he was writing it.
In between "In the Heights" and "Hamilton," he also wrote music for the musical adaptation of "Bring It On."
How long did it take Lin
Answer (1 of 6): I am just gonna add on to what was said by the previous person. The work of Hamilton started off as a mixtape and was later developed into a musical. The first two songs alone took a year to make each, as it rather a side project for him than a main thing that he wanted to produc...
How long did it take Lin-Manuel Miranda to write Hamilton?
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6 Answers Josh Jones
, Love of the revolutionary war and founding fathers.
Answered 4 years ago · Author has 86 answers and 88.8K answer views
I am just gonna add on to what was said by the previous person. The work of Hamilton started off as a mixtape and was later developed into a musical. The first two songs alone took a year to make each, as it rather a side project for him than a main thing that he wanted to produce.(Not to mention he really wanted to make them perfect) When he decided to make it into a musical he had many people working on it and took all of his attention to the songs. All in all the Hamilton musical is a great piece of art and will not be forgotten anytime soon.
13.9K viewsView upvotes
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, complete musical geek who has seen quite some musicals
Answered 4 years ago
6 years. From 2009 (when he read the book during a holiday) until 2015 when the show premiered on Broadway.
331 viewsView upvotesAnswer requested by
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Answered 3 years ago · Author has 71 answers and 157.4K answer views
I believe Lin started to write about his musical, just after he finished school. It may have been 2009? It took him one year to write one song, My Shot. And he continued working on the rest of the songs until 2015, the release of Hamilton.
4.9K viewsView upvotes
, Hamilton Musical Aficionado
Answered 1 year ago · Author has 132 answers and 181.7K answer views
He started back in 2008 or 2009 when he bought the book at an airport on his way to a little vacation from in the heights. The entire thing was planned as a mixtape and later turned into a musical. Many songs were tweaked, added, and removed during the creation of the musical up until opening night on Broadway on August 6th 2015. So 7 years. You can also find a quote from Lin someplace saying that it took 7 years and wasn’t an overnight success.
5.6K viewsAnswer requested by
David Maciel Related questions More answers below
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Therese Van Arsdale
, Stage manager and music director. Acted once.
Answered 1 year ago · Author has 5.6K answers and 2.6M answer views
About nine years. When he began he was only putting together a mixtape and the musical grew from there.
1.4K viewsAnswer requested by
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Answered 6 months ago
I can just add that the first song Miranda wrote for Hamilton
, “Alexander Hamilton,” was uniquely inspired and quite literally set the stage for subsequent songs. Even so, he added that the show was "no overnight success" as it took him about seven years to write it. It took him one year alone to write the second song in the show, "My Shot."
Besides, "The World Was Wide Enough," the penultimate song in Hamilton and the last appearance of the titular character before the finale, was the hardest song for creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to write.
204 views Related answers Related Answer Alex Johnston
, I was a professional playwright and dramaturg from 1993-2008
Answered 1 year ago · Author has 12.4K answers and 86.6M answer views
Is Lin-Manuel Miranda the weakest vocalist-wise among the Hamilton cast?
Having finally watched it on Disney+:
Is he the least technically able singer among the principal cast?
Yeah, probably. Leslie Odom Jr, Renée Elise Goldberry, Christopher Jackson, Daveed Diggs—all incredible singers. Note that I tacked on principal cast.
Miranda is a far, far better singer than you or I or anyone else we know would be, but when I listen to him, I am not immediately struck by what a great singer he is.
Does it matter? No.
He’s a great performer.
He plays the role with utter conviction, and he’s more than good enough that my suspension of disbelief isn’t broken for a moment. I totally
Related Answer Anya Josephs
, Theatre lover and student, Shakespeare fiend, Columbia senior