NYTG at EduHam

New York Theatre Guide attends Hamilton's Education Program at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Q&A with Hamilton cast members at EduHam

Yesterday the New York Theatre Guide was invited to attend EduHam at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre... What exactly is EduHam, you ask? Well, let me educate you...

Unless you've been hibernating for the past few years, you'll have heard of a certain Tony Award-winning "Best Musical" by the name of Hamilton. Well, last year producers of the show (along with creator Lin-Manuel Miranda) teamed up with The Rockefeller Foundation, the NYC Department of Education and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to establish Hamilton's Education Program (or EduHam for short). The goal set was to give over 15,000 public shool students in the NYC area the opportunity to experience the musical at special student matinee performances spread throughout the year for the wonderfully low price of $10. In order to qualify, the students must undertake a special integrated curriculum, lasting several weeks, inspired by Alexander Hamilton and the nation's Founding Fathers. To sweeten the deal, a number of students representing the various schools in attendance also get a priceless opportunity of performing an original piece of work based on their Hamilton studies on the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, in front of their peers and an audience of approximately 1,300 fellow students. The cherry on the cake is an exclusive Q&A session with members of the Hamilton Broadway cast, before a lunch-break and, of course, the matinee performance itself.

Yesterday, groups of exceptionally talented youngsters from ten different public schools, such as the Brooklyn Academy High School and the Robert F. Kennedy Community High School, showcased their Hamilton-inspired creativity through poetry, mini skits, song, monologues and rap (including two versions of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" TV theme with fresh, new, Miranda-esque lyrics). And perhaps most moving of all was how a select few students used the opportunity to juxtapose the founding of the nation with today's gun control crisis. I applaud the courage of these young folk who stood and delivered under the spotlights of a Broadway stage in front of an audience of 1,300 people.

The event was enthusiastically hosted by company member Justinn Dine Bryant, who also led and partook in the Q&A session alongside fellow cast members Hope Endrenyi, Erin ClemonsSasha Hollinger, and Joanna A. Jones, who plays Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, where students asked questions ranging from stage fright to their favorite characters in the musical to playing characters of a different ethnicity to themselves.

After a show of hands in the audience, it was clear that most attendees had never seen Hamilton previously and a large portion of the crowd had never been to a Broadway show. What an outstanding outreach then, that EduHam offers them the most-celebrated musical in recent memory at a mere $10 as a reward for hard work and study. Alexander Hamilton would be proud!

If you are interested in learning more or applying for EduHam, please visit www.gilderlehrman.org/hamilton.

Hamilton Tickets are available now for performances through to May 19, 2018.

(Photos by Tom Millward)