×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Final ‘Hamilton’ Performance: Inside The Room Where It Happened

The mob had clogged the sidewalk outside the Richard Rodgers Theater an hour and a half before the show had even started: Ticketholders eager to get in, fans across the street or outside the stage door waiting for their favorite actors, and a fair share of curious onlookers, arrested by the crowd and the parade of black SUVs, wondering what the big deal was.

They were all there to witness a landmark moment for the Broadway smash “Hamilton.” Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s creator and star, played his final performance in the show July 9, as did two of his co-stars, Leslie Odom, Jr. and Phillipa Soo. Hundreds of Hamilfans turned out to celebrate the hip-hop founding-father bio-musical that had become an unlikely pop culture behemoth, attracting enthusiasts from the Obamas to J.J. Abrams, winning 11 Tony Awards and serving as a cultural standard-bearer for the power of diversity.

In the ticketholders line were the people who had gone to extremes or paid thousands of dollars just to see the production that night. One attendee said she’d paid $3,500 for the chance to catch the show a second time before the original cast left, while others in the line had camped out overnight for cancellations. Here and there were the lucky winners of the day’s ticket lottery. “I’m the unicorn!” one of them declared happily.

Across 46th Street, a fan had painted a giant bust of Miranda in costume as Hamilton, propping it up for display against the Church of Scientology. A couple of scalpers hawked tickets, going for anywhere between $2,000 and $600.

In the theater, the audience  — which included Secretary of State John Kerry, Jennifer Lopez, Jane Fonda and Spike Lee — seemed to savor every moment. Immediately upon Miranda’s entrance for the show’s opening number, “Alexander Hamilton,” the audience stood for an ovation that lasted a full minute.

As the evening went on, the performance packed an unusual wallop. The emotions in “It’s Quiet Uptown,” the musical’s second-act song of devastation and reconciliation, seemed particularly profound for Miranda and Soo, and the rapt crowd hung on every word, only rustling to get out the tissues for a house-wide case of sniffles.

The song was pretty potent for the folks onstage, too. When it finished, actor Okieriete Onaodowan was so choked up that he had a little trouble delivering his subsequent lines. The audience chuckled sympathetically.

In a curtain call live-streamed on Facebook, the four exiting cast members — Miranda, Soo, Odom, Jr. and ensemble member Ariana DeBose — bowed together, and Christopher Jackson, the actor who plays George Washington, gave the emotional Miranda a playful push forward to receive one last surge of applause.

Miranda didn’t say any special words, but the orchestra had a surprise prepared for him. Midway during the curtain call, the band, led by music director Alex Lacamoire, played a snippet of the theme from “The West Wing,” in a nod to the political TV series that Miranda has acknowledged as one of his major influences in the creation of “Hamilton.”

Outside it had begun to rain, but that didn’t deter the fans clustered under awnings or clumped under umbrellas. Miranda obliged them by making an appearance atop the marquee of the theater, waving and pausing to hold his hand over his heart. Then it was off to the after-party at the R Lounge, the third-floor boite with a spectacular view of Times Square. Miranda wore a shirt with a black-and-white image of Muhammad Ali on the back.

At the party, Javier Munoz, Miranda’s alternate in the title role and the actor who will take his place in the production, described watching the show that night. “I was all over the place,” he said. “I was watching from the sound booth, I was watching from house right on the stairwell, I was watching from the stool on stage left that’s become my spot.”

He’s been involved in the production since the beginning, and has played Hamilton once a week since the show began performances. “We’ve been through so much together, and there’s a sentiment that we all feel that none of us are the same. For the better,” he said. “To grow in that way, with each other, it’s a celebration. And it’s very emotional. It was absolutely beautiful to watch these moments tonight and remember everything that went into building each one of them.”

Miranda moves on to work on a string of projects including Disney’s upcoming sequel to “Mary Poppins,” not to mention all those new production of “Hamilton” around the country and in London. Soo will star in the Broadway-bound musical adaptation of “Amelie” and Odom, Jr. has just released a self-titled solo album. As for Munoz? As of July 11, he’s Alexander Hamilton seven times a week.

 

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Broadway-Breakfast-Split

    Variety to Celebrate Second Business of Broadway Breakfast With Thomas Schumacher, Diane Paulus and Diablo Cody

    Variety has announced the lineup for its second annual Business of Broadway breakfast presented by City National Bank. Joining the breakfast on Oct. 7 is the president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher, who will take part in the event’s keynote conversation. In his position, Thomas oversees the company’s worldwide stage productions, which [...]

  • Sue Wagner John Johnson

    Tony-Winning Producers Sue Wagner and John Johnson Announce New Venture, Wagner Johnson Productions

    Sue Wagner and John Johnson, seven-time Tony award-winning producers, announced Wednesday that they have embarked on a new theatrical business venture, Wagner Johnson Productions. Under the name, they will produce and general manage a wide scope of theater productions. One of Wagner Johnson Productions’ current projects is a musical rendition of “Almost Famous,” which will [...]

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content