Before hitting Disney+ this summer, actually even before it hit Broadway, Hamilton had somewhat more humble beginnings.
In fact, it began not as a musical in the least, but as a hip-hop album, which gained viral popularity after creator Lin-Manuel Miranda performed the show’s ensuing opening number “Alexander Hamilton” at a 2009 White House poetry event.
Eventually, the aim of the music shifted and have become a full-fledged piece of musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda began the method of workshopping the show in various forms, including “The Hamilton Mixtape,” which Leslie Odom Jr. was invited to ascertain.
Leslie Odom Jr.’s life told guests at the virtual UB’s 34th Annual Distinguished Speaker Series:
“I haven’t in my life seen four men of colour on a stage singing about friendship and brotherhood. I assumed that was radical. I assumed it had been important and that i signed up right then and there to be the very first Hamilton fan.”
Leslie Odom Jr. didn’t just check in to become a Hamilton fan, though — he eventually signed on the line to star because of the show’s villain and narrator, Burr. That role ended up changing the actor’s life:
“I’ve said my dream has always been to be a neighbourhood of [a show] that’s culturally relevant, creatively fulfilling and commercially successful. That was the trifecta, that was what Rent was and Hamilton wasn’t very different.”
Hamilton definitely checks all those boxes. It went on to win a slew of laurels, including the Pulitzer Prize — Leslie Odom Jr. was awarded a Tony Award for his performance in 2016. It’s among the very best-grossing Broadway musicals) since 1982, despite the very fact that it’s been out for less than five years.
In addition to accolades and box office success, it’s also proved to possess an everlasting legacy and crossover appeal that few musicals have managed to get. The Hamilton Original Cast Recording is that the best-selling cast album of all time), and remains charting on the Billboard 200, thanks partially to a recent surge in popularity from the Disney+ film.
Still, its cultural impact — the very fact that it’s introduced numerous new fans to musical and made people interested by American history — is additionally something that’s important to Leslie Odom Jr. It seems his initial impression of the show’s potential, alongside his willingness to check-in for the ride, wasn’t vainly.