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What is Hamilton? A guide to the hit musical streaming on Disney+

Miranda also wrote the book of the musical and cast himself as the title character. We’d be deeply envious of his talent, if he wasn’t so loveable. In the last few years, he has worked on the music for two Star Wars films and appeared in Mary Poppins Returns and the BBC’s adaptation of His Dark Materials. A film adaptation of In The Heights, directed by Jon M. Chu, is in the pipeline for next summer. He’s also working on a Disney animation set in Columbia.

Since the pandemic, he’s been a frequent cheerful presence on the internet talk shows and Zoom sing-alongs while Hamilton lyrics have appeared on posters at the Black Lives Matter protests that have swept across the world.

So Hamilton has been to London?

Indeed. The show started off-Broadway in early 2015, before transferring to Manhattan’s main strip a few months later. It consistently sold out, with tickets for Miranda’s last performance, in July 2016, reportedly earning $10,000 a pop on the secondary market.

The London transfer was met with great enthusiasm by the UK theatre scene when it debuted in December 2019. Lucky theatregoers took to Twitter to praise the show: “Hamilton is put together with skill unlike anything I’ve seen before,” one wrote. “Every single component, technically, musically, is perfect. There’s no other word for it.”

Producer Cameron Mackintosh even set about revamping Victoria’s Palace Theatre especially for the occasion. A hugely popular run followed until, like the rest of the West End, Hamilton was forced to close in mid-march due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, Mackintosh has said it will not reopen until 2021 at the earliest.

If it’s closed, why am I reading this?

Another valid question. One problem with the Hamilton phenomenon has been how few people could actually see it – runs have so far been limited to the US and London and tickets were expensive; top price seats routinely sold for over £800. Given that the show engages with a vision of a fairer America with opportunities for all, and that it’s fan base is largely young and therefore less likely to be wealthy, the financial and geographical barriers to watching it was a problem Miranda must have been acutely aware of.

So back in 2016, he and director Thomas Kail shot the film over three days, capturing the original cast’s final performances, including Miranda in the title role. Director of photography Declan Quin installed nine cameras around the Richard Rodgers theatre and sound was recorded through 100 microphones. The result was a 161-minute film. Two of three obscenities in the lyrics were rendered inaudible to get the film a PG-13 rating.

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