Everything you need to know about 'Hamilton' on Broadway
Here's your guide to all things Hamilton, which went from a beach read to a musical that blew audiences away around the world.
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman become the subject of a bestselling musical that also becomes a cultural phenomenon?
Hamilton features a book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was inspired by a book he had read about Alexander Hamilton. Through reading Ron Chernow’s book about Hamilton, Miranda saw someone who was a poor immigrant, who hustled his way into becoming one of America’s Founding Fathers — someone who didn’t throw away his shot. Miranda saw parallels between Hamilton’s story and that of contemporary rappers, who use their words to climb the American social ladder.
The life of America’s first secretary of the treasury may seem like an atypical subject for a musical. But what really elevates Hamilton is its music, an anachronistic mix of hip-hop, rap, pop, jazz, and Broadway showtunes.
That music is delivered by a diverse cast. The tagline of Hamilton has always been: “America then told by America now.” People of color play all of the lead roles in the musical, in a nod to how non-white faces have always been left out of the history books. This intentional casting gives Hamilton a contemporary edge, making the static people in the history books more immediate and relatable to today’s audiences.
Find out more about Hamilton below, with characters, running time, songs, and more.
What is Hamilton about?
Hamilton features book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He was inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of the “$10 founding father” Alexander Hamilton.
The sung-through musical follows Hamilton from his early life as a poor orphan in the Caribbean, to his ascendency as the right-hand man of George Washington, to his death in an infamous duel with Aaron Burr. But the musical is not just about Hamilton. It also contrasts his life with that of his friend-turned-rival Burr, and how the two Revolutionary War soldiers became enemies.
But the music of Hamilton isn’t just your typical showtunes. The score for Hamilton draws from hip-hop and R&B and even includes multiple rap battles. And the lyrics come fast and furious. It’s Evita meets Les Misérables and 1776, by way of Notorious B.I.G.
Where is Hamilton playing?
Hamilton is playing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, at 226 West 46th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. The theatre opened in 1925 and is named after the famed composer Richard Rodgers (one half of Rodgers and Hammerstein, with Oscar Hammerstein II). Lin-Manuel Miranda’s debut Broadway musical In the Heights also played at the Richard Rodgers from 2008 to 2011.
How long is Hamilton?
Hamilton runs at 2 hours and 55 minutes, with one intermission. It is longer than your average Broadway musical, so it is recommended you eat beforehand.
What days is Hamilton playing?
Hamilton plays eight performances a week at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. The show usually runs twice a day on Wednesday and Saturday and is closed on Monday. For the complete performance schedule and showtimes, please visit the Hamilton page to learn more.
When did Hamilton premiere?
Hamilton was inspired by a beach read. In 2008, Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation while performing in his hit musical In The Heights. Miranda picked up a copy of Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton. As Miranda read the book, he related to Hamilton, who, like Miranda, was a prolific writer. He began to imagine Hamilton’s life as a musical. Miranda begins composing songs inspired by Hamilton’s life. He calls the songs The Hamilton Mixtape, which Miranda later released as a companion album to the Hamilton Broadway cast recording.
- 2009: Miranda performs a song from The Hamilton Mixtape in front of President Barack Obama at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word. The song will eventually become the opening number for Hamilton.
- 2013: The Hamilton Mixtape gets its first workshop at Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theater. Miranda asks Thomas Kail, who directed In the Heights, to direct the workshop. The workshop contains the eventual first act of Hamilton and three songs from the second act. Miranda plays Hamilton. Daveed Diggs and Christopher Jackson (who was also in In the Heights) also star — they will eventually star in the show on Broadway, too.
- 2015: Hamilton premieres off Broadway at The Public Theater on January 20, under Kail’s direction. The run sells out immediately. The production is partially financed by Broadway producer Jeffrey Seller, who produced In the Heights. The entirety of the Off-Broadway cast moves to Broadway. Later that same year, on July 13, Hamilton opens on Broadway, where it runs to this day.
- 2016: Hamilton opens its Chicago production. That production runs for four years and closes in 2020.
- 2017: Hamilton launches its first American tour, beginning in San Francisco. That same year, a separate tour launches in San Francisco. Hamilton also begins performances on the West End at the Victoria Palace Theatre, where it runs to this day.
- 2021: Hamilton begins performances in Australia at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. It runs there to this day, with another production in Melbourne at Her Majesty's Theatre.
- 2022: Hamilton opens a sit-down production in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre. Hamilton will also open its first foreign-language production in Germany in September at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg.
Who wrote Hamilton?
Hamilton features book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Prior to Hamilton, Miranda had made waves on Broadway with In the Heights, which he also wrote and starred in. His other musical credits includes writing Spanish lyrics to the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story. His improvisational hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme also headlined its own Broadway show from 2019 to 2020, and 2021 to 2022.
Miranda is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, three Tony Awards, three Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and two Olivier Awards. Miranda has also been nominated for two Academy Awards, for writing songs for the Disney films Moana and Encanto. Miranda has also dipped his toe into film directing, making his feature directorial debut with the movie musical tick, tick… BOOM!
Though the musical is titled Hamilton, the show is filled with memorable characters from American history.
- Alexander Hamilton: A hot-headed, ambitious, and impulsive man who always writes “like he’s running out of time.” He is the first treasury secretary of the United States. Lin-Manuel Miranda originated the role of Hamilton.
- Aaron Burr: Hamilton’s friend-turned-rival. Unlike Hamilton, Burr is more reserved and cautious, but no less ambitious — he wants to be in “the room where it happens.” Leslie Odom Jr. originated the role of Burr, and other notable actors who have played the role include Wayne Brady, Joshua Henry, and Brandon Victor Dixon.
- Eliza Hamilton: Hamilton’s wife Eliza is romantic, loyal, and loving. Phillipa Soo originated the role of Eliza, and another notable actor who has played the role is Denée Benton.
- Angelica Schuyler: Angelica is Eliza’s sister who has feelings for Hamilton, but steps aside out of love for Eliza, her own ambition, and social pressure. Renée Elise Goldsberry originated the role of Angelica, but other actors who have played the role include Mandy Gonzalez and Karen Olivo.
- Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson: These two roles are usually played by one actor. Marquis de Lafayette is a Frenchman who fights in the Revolutionary War and is loyal to Hamilton, while Thomas Jefferson is pompous and is one of Hamilton’s enemies. Daveed Diggs originated both roles, and another notable actor who has played the roles is James Monroe Iglehart.
- George Washington: The first U.S. president, Washington is a man with a strict moral code who is always aware that “history has its eyes” on him. Christopher Jackson originated the role.
- John Laurens and Philip Hamilton: These two roles are usually played by one actor. John is Hamilton’s close friend, while Philip is Hamilton’s son. Both are confrontational and not afraid of duels. Anthony Ramos originated the role, and Jordan Fisher has also played the role.
- Hercules Mulligan and James Madison: These two roles are usually played by one actor. Hercules is rambunctious and loves to party, while James is reserved and hates Hamilton. Okieriete Onaodowan originated the role.
- King George III: The beleaguered King of England who treats America like a lover that got away. Jonathan Groff originated the role on Broadway, but other actors who’ve played the role include Brian d'Arcy James, Andrew Rannells, and Rory O'Malley.
- Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds: These two roles are usually played by one actor. Peggy is the younger sister of Angelica and Eliza, while Maria is the woman with whom Hamilton has an affair. Jasmine Cephas Jones originated the role.
Hamilton is mostly sung through, and its musical influences are vast, including rap, R&B, hip-hop, jazz, soul, pop, and Broadway ballads. Cabinet debates even become rap battles in the musical. Below is a list of songs from the show.
- "Alexander Hamilton" — Entire Company of Hamilton
- "Aaron Burr, Sir" — Hamilton, Burr, Laurens, Lafayette, and Mulligan, and Ensemble
- "My Shot" — Hamilton, Burr, Laurens, Lafayette, Mulligan, and Ensemble
- "The Story of Tonight" — Hamilton, Laurens, Mulligan, Lafayette, and Ensemble
- "The Schuyler Sisters" — Angelica, Eliza, Peggy, Burr, and Ensemble
- "Farmer Refuted" — Hamilton, Burr, and Ensemble
- "You'll Be Back" — King George III and Ensemble
- "Right Hand Man" — Washington, Hamilton, Burr, and Ensemble
- "A Winter's Ball" — Burr, Hamilton, and Ensemble
- "Helpless" — Eliza and Ensemble
- "Satisfied" — Angelica and Ensemble
- "The Story of Tonight (Reprise)" — Hamilton, Burr, Laurens, Mulligan, Lafayette,
- "Wait for It" — Burr and Ensemble
- "Stay Alive" — Hamilton, Washington, Laurens, Lafayette, Mulligan, Eliza, Angelica, and Ensemble
- "Ten Duel Commandments" — Laurens, Hamilton, Burr, and Ensemble
- "Meet Me Inside" — Hamilton, Burr, Laurens, Washington, and Ensemble
- "That Would Be Enough" — Eliza and Hamilton
- "Guns and Ships" — Burr, Lafayette, Washington, and Ensemble
- "History Has Its Eyes on You" — Washington, Hamilton, and Ensemble
- "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" — Entire Company of Hamilton
- "What Comes Next?" — King George III
- "Dear Theodosia" — Burr and Hamilton
- "Non-Stop" — Entire Company of Hamilton
- "What'd I Miss?" — Jefferson, Burr, Madison, and Ensemble
- "Cabinet Battle #1" — Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison
- "Take a Break” — Eliza, Philip, Hamilton, and Angelica
- "Say No to This" — Maria Reynolds, Burr, Hamilton, and Ensemble
- "The Room Where It Happens" — Burr, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and Ensemble
- "Schuyler Defeated" — Philip, Eliza, Hamilton, and Burr
- "Cabinet Battle #2" — Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison
- "Washington on Your Side" — Burr, Jefferson, Madison, and Ensemble
- "One Last Time" — Washington, Hamilton, and Ensemble
- "I Know Him" — King George III
- "The Adams Administration" — Burr, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, and Ensemble
- "We Know" — Hamilton, Jefferson, Burr, and Madison
- "Hurricane" — Hamilton and Ensemble
- "The Reynolds Pamphlet" — The entire company of Hamilton
- "Burn" — Eliza
- "Blow Us All Away" — Philip, Hamilton, and Ensemble
- "Stay Alive (Reprise)" — Hamilton, Philip, Eliza, and Ensemble
- "It's Quiet Uptown" — Angelica, Hamilton, Eliza, and Ensemble
- "The Election of 1800" — Jefferson, Madison, Burr, Hamilton, and Ensemble
- "Your Obedient Servant" — Burr, Hamilton, and Ensemble
- "Best of Wives and Best of Women" — Eliza and Hamilton
- "The World Was Wide Enough" — Burr, Hamilton, and Ensemble
- "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story" — Eliza and the entire Company of Hamilton
What awards has Hamilton won?
Hamilton blew critics away when it premiered, winning every big theatre award there is. Its many awards got Lin-Manuel Miranda ever-closer to EGOT status, the rare distinction of having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. Below is a list of the major awards that Hamilton has won.
- Pulitzer Prize: Lin-Manuel Miranda won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Hamilton.
- Tony Awards: Hamilton won 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations.
- Grammy Awards: The cast album of Hamilton won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
- Laurence Olivier Awards: Hamilton won seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, Outstanding Achievement in Music, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design, and Best Theatre Choreographer.
Major productions of Hamilton
Hamilton blew onto the Broadway scene like a hurricane and proceeded to blow audiences away around the country and the world. With every stop, Hamilton tickets sold out within hours, a rarity for musicals. You might say that the show is non-stop!
- 2015 Off-Broadway production: This was the first major production of Hamilton. The cast in this production went on to star in the Broadway production, with the exception of Brian d’Arcy James, who played King George III but had to step away when the show transferred to Broadway. He was replaced by Jonathan Groff, though James did eventually play the role on Broadway.
- 2015 Broadway production: Miranda made minor changes from when Hamilton was off Broadway to when it premiered on Broadway. Most notably, the song “One Last Time,” which was originally called “One Last Ride,” was shortened. He also rewrote Hamilton’s death scene. The original cast recording of Hamilton is certified six times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, making it the highest-selling musical cast recording of all time.
- 2019 Puerto Rico production: Lin-Manuel Miranda played Hamilton again for three weeks at the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center in Puerto Rico. Miranda has roots on the island: His family has a restaurant and cafe there, with a merch shop called TeeRico. One of Miranda’s Tony Awards is also on display in Puerto Rico, as well as the Platinum Record that the Hamilton cast album received.
- 2017 West End production: The West End production of Hamilton was produced by Cameron Mackintosh (of The Phantom of the Opera).
- 2021 and 2022 Australia productions: Hamilton currently has two productions running in Australia: one in Sydney, which opened in March 2021, and one in Melbourne, which opened in March 2022.
- 2022 German production: Hamilton has not been translated into a foreign language until now, when a September 2022 engagement was scheduled at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg. Miranda told fans via Twitter that “it’s been a painstaking process translating the show, but you haven’t lived until you’ve heard ‘Satisfied’ rapped in German.”
Celebrities who have performed in Hamilton
Some shows have celebrities who act in them, and other shows are celebrity makers themselves. Hamilton is the latter, with many of its original cast members going on to become stars.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda: The creator and star of Hamilton was a musical theatre darling before, but Hamilton made him into a bonafide celebrity. After writing Hamilton, Miranda went on to a robust relationship with Disney, starring in Mary Poppins Returns and writing music for the Disney films Moana and Encanto.
- Leslie Odom Jr.: After playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton, Odom Jr. went on to play singer Sam Cooke in the film One Night in Miami…, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, a SAG Award, and Golden Globe Award.
- Daveed Diggs: After playing Thomas Jefferson/Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton, Diggs went on to lead his own television show: Snowpiercer. He's also set to play Sebastian in the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.
- Anthony Ramos: After playing John Laurens and Philip Hamilton, Anthony Ramos played the lead role in the film adaptation of Miranda’s musical In the Heights. He received a Golden Globe nomination.
- Jasmine Cephas Jones: After playing Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds, Jasmine Cephas Jones went on to win an Emmy Award and lead her own television show: Blindspotting.
- Jonathan Groff: He played King George III on Broadway, though Groff was already a celebrity when he starred in Hamilton, having appeared onscreen in Glee and as the voice of Kristoff in the Frozen film series. He's also a two-time Tony Award nominee.
- Ariana DeBose: DeBose was in the ensemble of Hamilton, where she notably played the Bullet that kills Hamilton. After the show, she appeared in onscreen musicals like The Prom film and the Schmigadoon! TV series. She also plays Anita in the 2021 film remake of West Side Story, which has earned her a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award, a BAFTA Award, and an Oscar nomination.
Onscreen adaptations of Hamilton
Hamilton was filmed in 2016 with the original Broadway cast. Disney then purchased the distribution rights for the filmed version of Hamilton for an eye-popping $75 million. In 2020, after the original Broadway cast had long left the show and all theatres in the U.S. were shut down amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the filmed version of Hamilton was released on Disney+.
The filmed Hamilton performance was nominated for all of the major screen awards, including the Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, Golden Globes, and the SAG Awards. The movie won a special award from the American Film Institute Awards, a Critics' Choice Television Awards, an Emmy Award, a Creative Arts Emmy Award, and a Producers Guild of America Award.
Fun facts about Hamilton
Whether you’re a new Hamil-fan or one that’s been around since The Hamilton Mixtape, these fun facts will blow you all away.
- For a show about America’s first treasury secretary, it was fitting that Hamilton made back its $12.5 million investment in under a year. This is a feat considering that a majority of Broadway shows do not make back the money that producers put into the show. Since its premiere in 2015, Hamilton has consistently sold out on Broadway, with its most expensive ticket going for $1,150 at one point — a Broadway record.
- All musicals have songs that are left on the cutting room floor. Many of those songs never see the light of day — but not so in Hamilton. The album The Hamilton Mixtape, which contains remixes and covers of Hamilton songs, also contains songs that were cut from the show, including “Congratulations” and “Cabinet Battle 3.” Miranda has also released cut songs from Hamilton separately, which he called HamilDrops.
- The fastest rap ever written for Broadway is found in the Hamilton song “Guns and Ships.” There, the Marquis de Lafayette raps 6.3 words per second. Hamilton overall is a word-filled musical. According to FiveThirtyEight, Hamilton contains 20,520 words, with an average of 144 words per minute. The show would last about six hours if it were sung at a traditional musical theatre speed.
- Hamilton is a veritable lyrical Easter egg. Lin-Manuel Miranda shows off his musical chops by writing songs that reference previously written songs from various genres. For instance, George Washington calls himself the “model of a modern Major General” in “Right Hand Man,” a reference to The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. The “Ten Duel Commandments” is inspired by the song “Ten Crack Commandments” by Biggie Smalls. In “Cabinet Battle No. 2,” Thomas Jefferson says, “If you don’t know, now you know,” quoting Notorious B.I.G.’s rap song “Juicy.”
- Following criticism that Hamilton minimized the roles that the Founding Fathers played in perpetuating slavery, the second act opener of Hamilton was changed in 2021. The song portrays Thomas Jefferson coming back to his plantation Monticello, where he interacts with his slaves, including Sally Hemings. Prior, the interactions were playful but in the new choreography, Hemings turns pointedly away from Jefferson.
How to get Hamilton tickets
History class has never been more fun. Do not throw away your shot to see Hamilton and to be in the room where it happens.