Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’ Was First a Mixtape, Not a Musical

by Jeremy Spirogis
Actor, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda is seen on stage during "Hamilton" GRAMMY performance for The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Richard Rodgers Theater on February 15, 2016 in New York City

The Broadway musical Hamilton has been an outstanding success. Before it debuted, not many individuals would have anticipated a present that featured the founding fathers rapping would fire up such fanatical enthusiasm. Now that it has come to Disney+ much more folks have fallen in love with it. But when Hamilton was first conceived, its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wasn’t picturing it as a musical in any respect. He had in thoughts a easy mixtape. 

A contemporary tackle historical past

When Miranda picked up a biography, written by Ron Chernow, about Alexander Hamilton, he didn’t know very a lot in regards to the founding father. He’d written a paper in highschool in regards to the duel that took Hamilton’s life, so he figured he’d no less than know the way the story ended. But that ebook that was simply meant to be one thing to learn on the seashore shocked him.

Miranda discovered Hamilton to be an inspiring determine. He was an immigrant, very like folks in Miranda’s family. He was fascinated by the person’s wrestle and his function in historical past. 

Miranda wrote Hamilton to discover his life, and the present is fairly traditionally correct — he even employed Chernow as a advisor. However, there are a lot of anachronistic components. There are references to fashionable issues, akin to the tv present The West Wing. Although the historic figures featured within the musical had been nearly all white, many are performed by actors of shade. 

And in fact, not one of the founding fathers had been recognized to have the ability to rap. The uncommon juxtaposition of recent and outdated components was successful. 

Success took the present far

In 2015, Hamilton debuted on Broadway, and other people beloved it. By the subsequent yr, it had received the Pulitzer Prize in drama and a Tony Award for finest new musical. Shows in New York and London had been commonly offered out, with seat costs going as excessive as $847 — earlier than they hit the resale market. 

When the forged album of the unique manufacturing was launched the response was equally enthusiastic. Since its launch, the album has stayed on the Billboard 200 chart. It’s now been there for 250 weeks and counting. 

With all of the demand to expertise the musical and a restricted variety of theater seats to promote, the concept got here as much as launch it as a film. The present was filmed, and a deal was reached with Disney to launch the present in theaters in October 2021.

But then the pandemic hit. Theaters closed, and nobody was capable of see the present. The choice was made to launch Hamilton on Disney+, and followers had been overjoyed. 

It was initially a mixtape

Actor, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda is seen on stage during "Hamilton" GRAMMY performance for The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Richard Rodgers Theater on February 15, 2016 in New York City
Actor, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda is seen on stage throughout “Hamilton” GRAMMY efficiency for The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Richard Rodgers Theater on February 15, 2016 in New York City | Theo Wargo/WireImage

RELATED: ‘Hamilton’: Why Lin-Manuel Miranda Wanted to Play Aaron Burr Instead of Lead

When Miranda first started composing Hamilton, he considered it as a mixtape. He at all times meant it to be a musical ultimately, however he was impressed by different musicals. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita and Jesus Christs Super Star each started life as idea albums, and that strategy appealed to Miranda. 

“I wanted to be a little more selfish with this—I wanted the lyrics to have the density that my favorite hip-hop albums have, he said. “It was easier to think of it as a hip-hop album, because then I could really just pack the lyrics.” 

In January 2012 he carried out 12 musical numbers from The Hamilton Mixtape. Within two years, the present was being workshopped, and the subsequent yr the curtain was raised, and historical past was made. 

Hamilton followers know that the music is what offers the present its energy. Miranda clearly knew that will be true, even earlier than the present existed. 

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