10 Unforgettable Hamilton Moments of 2016
After more than a season on Broadway, this cultural phenomenon deserves its own year-end listicle.
Hamilton opened on Broadway well over a year ago (August 2015), but nevertheless, 2016 may have been the most noteworthy period so far for Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical juggernaut. Even turning a blind eye to the, ahem, elephant in the room, there's been plenty of Hamilton-adjacent fun to talk about in the last 12 months. Here are the 10 moments that left us most "Satisfied" with our Hamilfan status.
1. Hamilton (Gently) Roasts James Corden With the Opening Number at the 2016 Tony Awards
Despite having opened in summer 2015, it wasn't until almost a year later in the spring of this year that Hamilton finally bagged its 11 Tony Awards (that's just one short of The Producers' 2001 record). But even once the cast arrived at the awards ceremony, their wait wasn't over. Before a single televised award was bestowed, the Hamilton ensemble took the stage to perform a rewritten rendition of the show's opening number "Alexander Hamilton." Instead of introducing Hamilton's eponymous main character, the new version poked fun at Tonys host James Corden (host of The Late Late Show) with lines like, "How does an upstart Britain best known for sittin' and jestin' from a desk in the middle of a forgotten slot on late night, far from Manhattan, chattin' with Hollywood phonies, end up being the guy who hosts the Tonys?" and "With his talk show, network honchos saw how this could be a classic exercise in exercising corporate synergy." The number ended with the cast reaching for the Tony Award we all knew was theirs, and Corden, finger waving, admonishing them one last time, "Just you wait."
2. The Schuyler Sisters Go "Out Tonight"
There are so many delightful videos from Hamilton's #Ham4Ham series that we could easily have filled out this entire list with just those incredible moments from outside the Richard Rodgers Theatre, inside the Richard Rodgers Theatre, and even backstage at the Imperial Theatre. But having decided to limit ourselves to a single #Ham4Ham, we finally settled on this video of the three (then) Schuyler Sisters performing one of Rent's beloved numbers: Mimi's "Out Tonight." You might think that it doesn't get better than Renée Elise Goldsberry returning to the role of Mimi (which she played in Rent's final Broadway cast) alongside Lexi Lawson and Jasmine Cephas Jones, but add three pairs of Mimis' iconic blue spandex and a trio of bustles and you have a number that Blows Us All Away.
3. Hamilton Wins Gypsy of the Year With Moving Performance of "America"
Hamilton's submission to 2016's Gypsy of the Year (an annual event in which shows compete with original numbers to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS) was a dance-centric performance of "America." Using the classic patriotic anthem as a backbone, the song mixed in the music and lyrics of Bob Marley and Lin-Manuel Miranda as well as the poetry of Langston Hughes. Syndee Winters and current star Javier Muñoz led the vocals while Hamilton's ensemble danced choreography created by cast member Karla Puno Garcia. The result is a haunting and inspirational reminder of what America can be.
4. The Hamilton Mixtape Bridges the Gap Between Broadway and Pop Culture
On December 2, Atlantic Records dropped Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton Mixtape, an album of songs inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway musical, kicking off one of our favorite Hamilton-related moments. Not only did the event spark a special concert performance of several songs from the show, with high-profile artists like Ja Rule, Ashanti, and Andra Day performing on the Richard Rodgers stage, it also brought together the worlds of hip-hop and Broadway with unprecedented (but perhaps not unexpected) success. As Mixtape artist Joell Ortiz told TheaterMania, "There's a direct correlation between hip hop and Broadway as an art…[Hip-hop] is just poetry in its most complex form so people who only go to plays are just getting a dose of what I've always known."
5. Lin-Manuel Miranda Tells the Hamilton Story on Drunk History
One of Hamilton's furthest forays away from Broadway was Lin-Manuel Miranda's inebriated appearance on Comedy Central's Drunk History. The episode featured television and film stars Alia Shawkat and Aubrey Plaza as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, respectively, and Miranda as a well-informed but tipsy narrator. While incidents like the Reynolds Pamphlet scandal get mostly accurate (if somewhat off-color) retellings, it's the anachronistic moments, like when Questlove calls and Aaron Burr takes a break from the battlefield to pull out his phone, which make the episode a pleasure to imbibe.
6. Lin-Manuel Miranda Gets a West Wing-Style Send-Off
Hamilton impresario Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn't shy away from mentioning his obsession with TV's West Wing. On the night of Miranda's final performance as Alexander Hamilton this past July, Tony-winning orchestrator/conductor Alex Lacamoire and the show's orchestra decided to honor their show's commander-in-chief with a regal send-off, playing the iconic West Wing theme song as Miranda took one last bow. It was a moment as thrilling for fans as it was for LMM himself.
While The Hamilton Mixtape got its share of publicity this fall, in Chicago Joshua Henry had his own Hamilton Mixtape up his sleeve. While rehearsing to take on the role of Aaron Burr in the Windy City, the Broadway veteran released #HamJams, a series of remixes of Hamilton tunes done in styles that vastly differed from how the songs appear in the show. We would listen to a whole CD of these acoustic reimaginings, just saying.
8. Hamilton Gets Its Grammy Award on the Air
In past years, the Grammy Awards have never aired the presentation of the Best Musical Theater Album category. But when it comes to Hamilton, even the recording industry is willing to make an exception. Not only did the cast of Hamilton perform during the 2016 Grammys broadcast, they also accepted their award in primetime on national television. It's a victory for the world of theater, and we hope this trend will continue in years to come.
9. The Making of Hamilton Becomes a TV Documentary
Few Broadway shows get their own making-of documentaries, but Hamilton isn't your run-of-the-mill Broadway show. Hamilton's America gave eager audiences an unprecedented look into the show's creation, with footage dating back to when Lin-Manuel Miranda was in the early stages of writing. It was a risky move documenting a piece before anyone even knew if it would take off, but as Hamilton's America proved, it was destined for greatness from the get-go.
10. Lin-Manuel's Crucible Cast Party Brings High School Drama to National TV
After Lin-Manuel Miranda hosted Saturday Night Live earlier this fall, all anyone could talk about was the Crucible Cast Party sketch. Using his days as a high school theater geek for inspiration, this sketch showed the world what actually happens when the school play closes and everyone goes off to celebrate. It was a true delight, and spoke to the awkward Godspell-obsessed teen in us all.