It may cost hundreds of dollars to score a seat to “Hamilton,” but for $40, you can get a backstage pass.
“Hamilton: The Revolution” explores the making of the Broadway phenomenon, from its complete libretto to essays on its cast members to behind-the-scenes photos.
Written by composer-lyricist-star Lin-Manuel Miranda and cultural critic Jeremy McCarter, the book shot straight to No. 1 on Amazon upon its release last week — only further demonstrating the public fervor over the groundbreaking musical.
At nearly 300 pages, you could spend hours poring over the tome, but not to be missed are the more than 200 footnotes Miranda wrote for the libretto. After reading through them, here are eight things we learned about the creator’s influences and the origins of “Hamilton.”
1. The subway inspires him
During the song “Aaron Burr, Sir,” there’s the exchange, “Yo yo yo yo yo! What time is it? Show time!” Anyone who’s ridden the subway might recognize that this is, as Miranda writes, “an homage to the amazing subway breakdancers of NYC circa present day, who start their shows this way.”
2. He wrote one of the melodies when he was 16
“Hamilton” was at least six years in the making, but some of the melodies have been pulled from throughout Miranda’s career. He notes that the melody of “The Story of Tonight” was written when he was just 16 and in a doo-wop group with four other friends. “When it came time to write this number for the show, that melody did everything I wanted this scene to do: It conveyed a yearning and innocence I felt in finding a group of friends to sing with me,” he writes.
3. His wife Vanessa Nadal’s favorite line in the show
“I’m a trust fund, baby, you can trust me!“ from “The Schuyler Sisters,” sung by Aaron Burr (it’s a good one!).
4. Hugh Laurie helped with a song
Beyond Broadway, Miranda has had turns on a variety of TV shows, from “The Sopranos” to “Modern Family.” When he was working on “House,” he asked star Hugh Laurie for advice on a song that would be “a breakup letter from King George to the colonies.” Laurie’s response? “Awwww, you’ll be back.” “I laughed and filed it away,” Miranda writes, who went on to indeed write the song, “You’ll Be Back,” for King George.
5. His first high school role was in “The Pirates of Penzance”
In the song “Right Hand Man,” George Washington sings, “Now I’m the model of a modern major general.” Theater buffs will recognize the homage to “The Pirates of Penzance,” which has the lyric, “I am the very model of a modern Major-General.” It’s also a nod to Miranda’s theater beginnings — his first part in high school was as The Pirate King in the musical, he shares.
6. He tried to adjust to the audience reaction in “Yorktown”
The audience’s enthusiastic response to the Lafayette and Hamilton line, “Immigrants: We get the job done,” led Miranda to add two bars to the song to absorb the reaction, but then “it felt like we were asking for applause, and they delivered, and it was even worse,” so he went back to the original. “I never anticipated that the audience response would drown out the next few lines every night,” he writes. “Why does it get such a delighted response? Because it’s true.”
7. He’s a “Parks & Recreation” fan
The pop culture references are plentiful, from Grandmaster Flash to “West Side Story.” But we didn’t expect this one: In the song “Your Obedient Servant,” Hamilton has the line, “Here’s an itemized list of 30 years of disagreements.” “This is my ‘Parks & Recreation’ homage — such a Leslie Knope thing to do,” Miranda writes. A man after our own hearts.
8. “Caroline, or Change” inspired the ending
Miranda found a precedent in not ending the show with the protagonist — Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s “Caroline, or Change.” “I felt like I had permission to end with Eliza after seeing [it],” he writes.