Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ finally comes to Las Vegas
When Lin-Manuel Miranda began working on Hamilton, he was an up-and-coming Broadway performer and songwriter, appearing in his own musical In the Heights, which was inspired in part by his experiences growing up in New York City. It was 2009, and Miranda had just read Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founders and early leaders of the United States (and the face on the $10 bill). Miranda performed the song “Alexander Hamilton” at a showcase sponsored by the White House, and it’s hard to imagine that anyone in attendance (including Miranda himself) had any idea of the cultural phenomenon that Hamilton would become.
It took another six years before Hamilton premiered off-Broadway, as Miranda worked on other projects (including co-writing the songs for Bring It On: The Musical) and acted in small parts in movies and TV series. But Hamilton’s debut catapulted Miranda and his fellow performers into a whole new realm; the play made its way to Broadway just a few months later, and has been one of the hottest tickets in New York City ever since. Miranda has gone on to work on major Disney movies like Moana and Mary Poppins Returns and the upcoming The Little Mermaid, and his castmates (including Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr. and Renée Elise Goldsberry) have all enjoyed serious bumps in the profiles of their stage and screen careers.
After its first year on Broadway, Hamilton was nominated for 16 Tony Awards and won 11, including Best Musical. Miranda created something wholly original in a world that is still filled with musicals based on movies and TV series and other media franchises. Not only did he tell a new story onstage, but he also infused it with a modern, progressive sensibility, both in the music and in the casting. Hamilton’s songs incorporate hip-hop, R&B and soul along with traditional musical theater styles, and the show is deliberately cast with actors of color in the roles of white historical figures. “This is the story of America then, told by America now,” Miranda told CBS Sunday Morning when the play was first gathering acclaim off-Broadway. “It looks like America now.”
The music from Hamilton has become its own pop-culture juggernaut, with an album of covers by pop superstars including Usher, Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys (The Hamilton Mixtape) and even a polka-fied medley by “Weird Al” Yankovic (who happens to be one of Miranda’s idols). The show is currently in open-ended residencies in Chicago and London in addition to New York, and the demand for the national tour is so high that there are two productions making their way around the country concurrently.
The production stopping at The Smith Center in Vegas stars Joseph Morales (who also starred in the touring production of In the Heights) as Alexander Hamilton, with Nik Walker as Aaron Burr and Shoba Narayan as Eliza Hamilton. They’re carrying on a legacy that began in that unassuming moment when Lin-Manuel Miranda first picked up an intriguing historical book.
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m. May 29-June 1; 2 & 7:30 p.m. June 2-3, starting at $69 plus tax and fee. 702.749.2000