Tuesday, October 18, 2016


If you'd love to see Hamilton -- the must-see Broadway show that has dazzled presidents and critics and audiences alike, the one that won 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer -- but haven't been able to score tickets for the show in New York or Chicago and the 2017 stop in LA isn't looking good, either, PBS is here to help. No, they won't get you in the door and no, they aren't bringing the show itself to the small screen. But they are offering a documentary called Hamilton's America on Great Performances to kick off their 2016 PBS Arts Fall Festival. This documentary goes behind the scenes to bring "history to vivid life through the lens of Lin-Manuel Miranda's pop culture Broadway phenomenon Hamilton."

In addition to the teaser video above, PBS has described their program in enthusiastic detail:
"Produced by Academy Award® and Emmy Award®-winning producers RadicalMedia (What Happened, Miss Simone?, Keith Richards: Under The Influence, In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams for PBS) and directed by Alex Horwitz, Hamilton's America delves even deeper into the creation of the show, revealing Miranda's process of absorbing and then adapting Hamilton's epic story into groundbreaking musical theater. Further fleshing out the story is newly shot footage of the New York production with its original cast, trips to historic locations, such as Mt. Vernon and Valley Forge with Miranda and other cast members, and a surprising range of interviews with prominent personalities, experts, politicians, and musicians including President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Secretary Hank Paulson, Secretary Timothy Geithner, Questlove, Black Thought, Jimmy Fallon, John Weidman, Nas and Stephen Sondheim.
"Hamilton’s America shows just how timeless the hot-button issues of today's America are: immigration, States' rights, debt, income inequality, and race relations. These were the same fights that defined Hamilton's time, and they are the driving force of Miranda's historic work. The film endeavors to brush the dust off American history, much as the musical does, and provide a unique new way for us to view our national heritage and current political landscape.
"A unique window into the artistry and research involved in making the show, viewers will witness Miranda at the White House in 2009 performing an early version of what would become "Alexander Hamilton," the first number in the musical and they will also be given an inside view of Miranda as he composes songs in Aaron Burr's Manhattan bedroom. They will travel to Virginia with Christopher Jackson – who was Tony®-nominated for his portrayal of George Washington in the musical – as he reveals his personal struggle preparing for the role, while grappling with our Founders' legacy of slavery. Back in New York, Miranda, who originated the Tony®-nominated role of Hamilton in the musical and Leslie Odom, Jr. –  who won a Tony Award® for his portrayal of Aaron Burr – visit the Museum of American Finance to get a deeper understanding of the historical figures they are depicting on stage, including a memorable moment from this research trip, when the two actors brandish authentic 19th-century dueling pistols."
All of which adds up to a Don't Miss for history lovers, Broadway aficionados, Lin-Manuel Miranda fans and pretty much everybody else with a pulse.

Hamilton's America will air at 9 pm Eastern/8 Central on Friday, October 21 on both our local PBS stations. WILL-TV in Urbana will repeat the program immediately after the first showing, with another chance to see it at 1 am.

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