A new program means New York City public school students have access to the hottest ticket on Broadway—and, with the help of a new curriculum, a background in the history and creative process behind Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton.”
Thirteen hundred high schoolers attended the first students-only production of the musical, which is based on the life of the first U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, earlier this week, WNYC reports. Lower-income students had access to tickets that cost just $10 (or, you know, a Hamilton.)
The students had already been studying the show and the life of Alexander Hamilton, using a new curriculum called the Hamilton Education Project. The project gives students access to primary sources that Miranda used to build his story, and asks them to respond to the history artistically. Groups of students performed their pieces after the showing earlier this week.
Some 20,000 New York City high school juniors will eventually attend the show through the program. When the plan was first announced last October, Miranda, who wrote and stars in the show, told the New York Times he hoped the musical would inspire students: “Not to say we’re going to make 1,300 history majors or 1,300 musical theater writers every time we do the show, but hopefully, they will take away how much Hamilton did with his life in the time that he had.”
“Hamilton” will soon open in Chicago, and the education program will also be used in public schools there, according to NPR. Some 20,000 New York City high school juniors will eventually attend the show through the program.
This isn’t the first time “Hamilton”'s cast and creator have reached out to students: At an event at the White House earlier this year, “Hamilton” cast members and Miranda spoke with students about the musical and its impact on them. President Barack Obama introduced the musical, describing how hip hop and rap music matched the spirit of the Revolutionary War and Hamilton’s American story.
(WNYC’s Beth Fertig interviewed Jim Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, about the curriculum. You can also read an interview with Ron Chernow, who wrote the biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired Manuel’s musical, here.)
Image: As President Barack Obama applauds in the foreground at right, actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, right, gestures to the rest of the cast after singing “Alexander Hamilton” from the Broadway play “Hamilton” in the East Room of the White House. At left are actors Daveed Diggs and Okieriete Onaodowan. --Jacquelyn Martin/AP
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.