ENTERTAINMENT

‘Hamilton’ freestyles with Obama, returns to the (East) Room where it happens

The cast of 'Hamilton' performs title song of the mega Broadway hit at White House.

 

Seven years after he famously rapped the beginnings of his “concept album” about U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton at the White House, Lin-Manuel Miranda returned for an encore to the room where it happened — the East Room.

It was a one-of-a-kind performance rich of symbolism and a touch of irony inspired on the Founding Father who, according to Miranda, is the embodiment of hip hop. 

With portraits of George and Martha Washington staring down, the singers of “Hamilton” waxed lyrical about the former Treasury Secretary's unlikely transformation from impoverished immigrant to American historical luminary.

President Barack Obama told an audience of invited schoolchildren he hoped the story of the country's founding would teach them that in America, what's past is only the beginning.

"That's what makes America so great. You finish the story," Obama said. "We're not yet finished. This is a constant work in progress, America. We're boisterous and we're diverse.”

Referencing a line in the show, he continued: "I'm just like my country — young, scrappy and hungry. We’re full of energy and perpetually young in spirit. We are the project that never ends.

He also joked that he deserved a bit of credit for the theatrical sensation, now one of the hottest tickets on Broadway.

"'Hamilton,' I'm pretty sure, is the only thing that Dick Cheney and I agree on," Obama quipped, referring to the former vice president and avowed fan of the show.

With its fast-paced score that mixes pop ballads, hip-hop and R&B, "Hamilton" has hit a nerve on Broadway with the true story of the nation's "young, scrappy and hungry" first Treasury secretary. Obama and the first lady have been major boosters of the show, in which an African-American and Latino cast play historical figures who were, of course, white.

The cast’s special appearance to the capital – on a day when the Richard Rodgers Theatre is dark – was part of an educational program that is test driving a Hamilton-inspired history curriculum.

First lady Michelle Obama – a superfan of the show – told the audience that all of the events at the White House, “this, for me, personally, is the coolest.”

The live-streamed portion of the day included a costume-free performance comprised of “Alexander Hamilton” and another rousing song “My Shot.”

 

Wait for it... ��⬇️ #Bam4Ham

Posted by The White House on Monday, March 14, 2016

One thing that the live-stream audience didn’t see was Miranda freestyling in the Rose Garden, referencing cue cards held by the president and backed up by a Marine Corps Band drummer.

"The Oval Office, oh my God, I can't believe I'm there," he rapped. "It's so much more intense than it would be if it were square."

Himself the product of an unlikely rise to power, Obama praised the show's ability to bring "unlikely folks together." He told the show's creator that he could "use the help" in Washington.

"Lin-Manuel, if you have any ideas about a show about Congress, for example," Obama said to laughter, "now is your chance."

 

President Washington is at the White House! The cast of the Broadway musical Hamilton is here today to lead a workshop with students and perform a selection of songs from the show. We're here live from the White House with Christopher Jackson, the actor who plays George Washington. #Bam4Ham

Posted by The White House on Monday, March 14, 2016

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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