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From Miranda’s ‘joke’ to Obama’s White House to Broadway to Chicago and back

Sept. 1789: Alexander Hamilton is first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, serving until 1795.

March 2008: “In the Heights” opens on Broadway, a musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Thomas Kail, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music direction by Alex Lacamoire. It wins the Tony for best musical and makes a name for Miranda. Later the same year during a vacation, Miranda begins reading historian Ron Chernow’s biography “Alexander Hamilton” (Penguin, 2004) and has the idea the story could be a hip-hop concept album. He mentions the idea to Jeremy McCarter, who first assumes he’s joking, according to their cowritten book “Hamilton: The Revolution” (2016, Grand Central) about the musical’s gestation.

May 2009: Miranda is invited to perform “The Hamilton Mixtape” for the Obama first family at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word, accompanied by Lacamoire on piano. Standing ovation. The song is adapted into the opening number of the musical.

July 2013: An early draft of the musical, still titled “The Hamilton Mixtape,” is workshopped at the Vassar Reading Festival in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Feb. 2015: “Hamilton’s” off-Broadway debut at the Public Theater, with much the same creative team as “In the Heights,” including Lacamoire, direction by Kail and choreography by Blankenbuehler. Set design is by David Korins.

August 2015: Opening night on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, starring Miranda as Alexander, produced by Jeffrey Seller. “Hamilton” would win 11 Tony Awards, including best musical.

Oct. 2016: The first post-Broadway production opens in Chicago at the then-Private Bank Theatre (now CIBC Theatre) on Monroe Street, with Miguel Cervantes as Alexander. In November, vice president-elect Mike Pence attends a Broadway performance and is addressed by the cast during the curtain call.

2017: First national tour launches in San Francisco in March. “Hamilton” opens in London’s West End in December. The acclaimed Joshua Henry leaves the role of Aaron Burr in the Chicago production in January, briefly replaced by Wayne Brady.

2018: “Hamilton: The Exhibition” is announced for Chicago’s Northerly Island. A second national tour launches in Seattle and over the holidays, “Hamilton’s” Broadway production grosses more than $4 million in a single week, a new box office record.

2019: In January, “Hamilton” plays a celebrated three-week run in Puerto Rico, at the Centro de Bellas Artes in San Juan, with Miranda briefly returning to his lead role as Alexander. The Puerto Rico production becomes a third U.S. tour. “Hamilton: The Exhibition” opens on Northerly Island in late April and closes (earlier than expected) in late August.

2020: The Chicago production of “Hamilton” closes Jan. 5 at the CIBC Theatre, just two months before the pandemic shuts down theater across the country. The show had box office sales of some $400 million over 3½ years. In July, director Thomas Kail’s filmed version of the musical streams on Disney Plus. Later that month, Miranda responded to criticisms of the way the show failed to fully acknowledge slavery, tweeting that “It’s all fair game.”

2022: The first non-English “Hamilton” production opens in Hamburg, translated into German.

2023: A first Chicago return engagement for the musical is announced. The show will run Sept. 13 to Dec. 30 at the Nederlander Theatre. The U.S. tour stars Pierre Jean Gonzalez as Hamilton, Deon’te Goodman as Aaron Burr.

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