'Hamilton': A Story Of US

Jun 20, 2016
Originally published on December 21, 2016 12:06 pm

Hamilton's reach spreads beyond Broadway. Since the musical opened in 2015, it's won almost every possible theatre award, including 11 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize. Its cast recording has gone platinum and hit No. 1 on the rap chart. A large part of Hamilton's appeal is that it takes the story of America's Founding Fathers and recasts it in contemporary terms — the score is an amalgam of hip-hop, R&B and pop, and the cast is multiracial. As author and star Lin-Manuel Miranda says, "It's a story about America then, told by what America looks like now."

It's also become a popular teaching tool in America's classrooms. With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and a curriculum developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 20,000 New York City high school juniors are not only getting to see the hottest show in town for 10 dollars a ticket — a "Hamilton" — they're also taking a deep dive into American history. Gilder Lehrman has provided a website with primary source documents, and the students spend a month researching and coming up with their own creative responses to the material; they write songs, raps, poems and scenes. Representatives from each participating high school then get to perform onstage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre before seeing a matinee performance of Hamilton on the very same stage.

Hamilton: A Story of US follows students as they go through this process at several New York high schools: Bronx Theatre High School, Broome Street Academy Charter High School and Marble Hill High School. In the audio special above, you'll hear students like Osariemen "Tootie" Uwaifo, Chris Zaragoza and Asia Jenkins creating and performing their material; chatting with Ron Chernow, the author of the biography on which the musical is based; and visiting Alexander Hamilton's Manhattan home. Below, find individual student performances and tweets from the program (that's #EduHam, of course).

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