By Spencer L. – Age 11
Kid Scoop Media Correspondent
On July 31, I saw the musical “Hamilton,” on Broadway in New York City. I fell in love with this musical since I first heard the soundtrack a year ago. I immediately thought Lin Manuel Miranda, as well as the cast and crew behind Hamilton, were geniuses. With the smart and catchy hip-hop lyrics, along with stunning vocals. Hamilton truly is a revolutionary creation that deserves a million standing ovations.
I traveled to New York to interview the musical directors of Hamilton on assignment for Kids Scoop Media. This is an organization that helps kids have life-changing opportunities through interviewing politicians, celebrities and activists/leaders. I was so excited to have this chance to interview Hamilton’s musical directors on Broadway because not only is it my favorite show and I had a lot of questions, I had never seen it on Broadway.
I got to sit in the fourth row, which was so awesome because I was sitting so close to the stage. After the show, I got to meet the people I was interviewing at the stage door. I had my questions prepared, and I was ready to go. I got to go on to the stage, and I met the actress who played Angelica! She was really nice, and after saying hello, I went into the director’s’ office.
I met with the musical director, Kurt Crowley, and the associate musical director Ian Weinberger, and I had a very friendly, casual, interesting, and informative interview with them. They were so nice and willing to take time, at 11:00 at night, to answer all the questions I had. They told me many interesting things that I didn’t know about Hamilton.
They both said that as musical directors, they were in charge of every single note of every single song. In addition to conducting the orchestra, they also play the keyboard during the show, and that keyboard is monitored on a TV screen that the actors see from the stage.
That’s what helps keep them on track while the conductor is playing the keyboard. Weinberger said almost all of Hamilton is sung, but some effects are computer-generated, such as pre-recorded beatboxing. He added that part of being a musical director is to know when to start conducting again after applause or to take a longer pause if necessary.
Kurt Crowley described his experience while conducting the performance that Vice President Mike Pence watched back in 2016. I remember hearing about it at the time and reading that Pence walked out as the cast spontaneously confronted him directly from the stage. They were protesting against his anti-immigration policy.
Crowley mentioned that the cast had always planned to speak to the audience after the show because it was the period of time in which casts all over Broadway were asking for donations. He explained that Pence did walk out but it wasn’t necessarily because of the actors or the audience.
Secret Service often tells the person they’re protecting when it’s time to go and the timing of his exit may have been coincidental with the curtain speech. As they say in Hamilton: You don’t know the real story unless you’re “In the room where it happens.”
Crowley has worked with Lin Manuel-Miranda since his first Broadway musical, “In the Heights,” eight years ago. The first time he heard any songs from Hamilton, it was during the White House Performance for the Obamas in 2015.
He was impressed but wasn’t sure bigger audiences would appreciate it. ”[When I first heard Hamilton], I thought it was smart, but not commercial. Boy was I wrong.” Once the collection of songs became a full musical, Michelle Obama went to see it on Broadway and Ian Weinberger happened to be conducting for the first time at that performance. “It was terrifying” he said.
One question I had was: “What happened to Peggy?” The third Schuyler sister was featured in the beginning but then seemed to fade away without being mentioned again. Weinberger explained that Lin Manuel Miranda wanted there to be a trio because it’s better for harmonies and mimicked girl groups like Destiny’s Child. In real life Peggy died young of Yellow Fever and the other sisters played a more important role because both were in love with Hamilton.
I learned so many other interesting facts, such as: Hamilton is now frozen, meaning nothing can be changed about the musical. There was a song in the show that is not on the soundtrack called “Tomorrow There’ll be More of Us.”
When I asked why that was the case, the directors explained that they wanted to give the audience a little surprise. I learned that Hamilton is touring all over the world because there are clocks in Crowley’s office that shows what time it is at each performance.
In conclusion, I had a great time interviewing Kurt Crowley and Ian Weinberger. I thought their answers to my questions were very impressive, and I am so glad I learned all of this information because I think Hamilton is a masterpiece. Since I am Hamilton’s biggest fan, I appreciate knowing all the secrets and fun facts behind Hamilton.