Right Hand Man: Meet Hamilton Tony Nominees

On a scale from one to “the other 51,” how energized are you for Sunday’s Tony Awards? We couldn’t be happier for Hamilton’s well-deserved 16 Tony nominations, and of course all of us have been rooting for Lin and Leslie, Phillipa, Daveed and Christopher and Renee. Nobody would argue that Hamilton isn’t #blessed with an incredible cast – but the musical’s success owes just as much to the behind-the-scenes team. Here are a few bios of LMM’s right-hand men:

Best Orchestrations – Alex Lacamoire

Alex Lacamoire is part of Lin-Manuel’s cabinet of geniuses, and incidentally all of them (+ Andy Blankenbuhler and Tommy Kail) happen to be nominated for Tonys this year. Alex has worked with Lin since In the Heights, the show for which he won his first Tony in the same category. Alex collaborated with Lin again for Bring It On the Musical, also serving as a co-orchestrator with Tom Kitt (Next to Normal). Needless to say, they’re trusted bros and work like one mind. And their working relationship is unconventional of sorts – usually an orchestrator begins collaborating with the show’s writer on pre-existing songs. But for Lin and Alex, it’s a team effort. Lin sends Alex a first draft recording of a song, and Alex constructs sheet music from there. Lin leads the way but Alex is in The Room Where It Happens from the jump.

“Lin is the architect. He builds the house. This is the foundation, this is the chord, these are the lyrics, this is the melody. I add the colors. It’s the back and forth. Lin leaves me spaces to contribute, and I’m thankful that becomes part of the song.” {x}

 

A perfect example of this is when Alex accompanied Lin to the White House in 2009 for the now-famous performance of what is now the first number of the show, Alexander Hamilton. Back then, the idea was just a Hamilton Mixtape – there was now musical in existence. They worked on that song and all the others to create what you hear on the soundtrack now. Also, if you’re a Hamilfan or just genuinely interested in the process of making a musical, watch that interview above. And read this interview. There’s a lot, kids.

 

Best Costume Design of a Musical – Paul Tazewell 

If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you have a copy of Hamiltome on your book shelf. Go to it and read the part about Paul Tazewell’s costume designs, and try to come away feeling anything but amazed. You can’t, can you? If you’re reading this there’s also a good chance you’re a regular Tony viewer, so the name Paul Tazewell probably sounds a bit familiar. His other nominations include A Streetcar Named Desire (2012), Memphis (2010), In The Heights (2008), The Color Purple (2006) and Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk (1996). Tazewell has experience designing both contemporary and period costumes, but Hamilton called for something a little different. The costumes in Hamilton are nothing short of amazing. They evoke the Revolutionary era, but they aren’t exactly straight out of Colonial Williamsburg, either:

How we used period influence in the costume design and the set design for HAMILTON was indeed the major question for the design team. Because HAMILTON is about an actual and year specific period of time that is very well known, it was important to decide if it would be a filmic recreation of the American Revolution/Colonial Period or if we would do the opposite and have the contemporary sound and telling of the story require me to design with a more modern style, as in contemporary fashion and street clothing. […]

[…]  I was also able to start to work out the look for the dancing ensemble which obviously needed to function well for movement and allow them to do everything that Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography required them to do, as well as create a neutral look that would be able to work seamlessly from Revolutionary Soldier, to men and women on the streets of Colonial New York City, to statesmen of the newly created United States of America. It also became important to have the principal characters stand out from the ensemble. [x]

To read more about Tazewell’s inspiration for specific characters’ costumes (like the Schuyler sisters and Thomas Jefferson), as well as the ensemble’s neutral parchment-colored look, read this excellent interview from Tyranny of Style.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Howell Binkley

Hamilton’s lighting design is courtesy of Howell Binkley, a five-time Tony nominee and one-time winner for Jersey Boys. One of those nominations was from In The Heights, so Lin was keeping it in the family yet again. For this production, Howell designed his lighting track by track, creating scenes based on the emotion evoked in each song.

“I gave each song a different look, as each song is a different story, and I wanted to give each one a different quality of light, different texture, and a different flavor,” Binkley adds. “The cast is often on stage watching the action, so I needed to sculpt them without taking away from the main characters. The color came from the mood of the song and the flavor of the music and the subject, rather than a motif for each character. For example, in the song ‘Hurricane,’ the palette is blue-green, turquoise, and yellow—vibrant but not always pretty, as Alexander Hamilton faces inner turmoil before he publishes his writings.” {x}

He also noted that designing the lighting for the show was “like a rock ‘n’ roll cueing sensibility yet with the subtleness of watching a sunset. It’s that extreme, sometimes right in your face, sometimes very intimate, from love scenes to duels.” This description is so on point – from hip-hop numbers to traditional musical theater songs, of course the lighting has to be different – just like the founding fathers, he’s building a nation in the middle of change.

Best Direction of a Musical – Thomas Kail

Tommy Kail is Lin’s Right Hand Man if there ever was one. Tommy was a few years ahead of Lin at Wesleyan University, where they both went to school and ran in the same theater circles. They co-created Freestyle Love Supreme (where they met Chris Jackson and Daveed Diggs) and directed In The Heights, for which he got a Tony nom. One of the great things I’ve noticed about interviews and such from Tommy re: Hamilton is how much he understands the story of the show. He’s not just directing a group of actors across the stage, he’s using them to convey a fairly untold story to an audience who will hopefully be just as moved and immersed in Hamilton’s take as the cast is.

LMM: When you hire Tommy as a director you get a two-for-one because he is also one of the best dramaturges around. He has such an incredible sense of story. A lot of the dramaturgical decisions that went into the structure of this show are from conversations with and suggestions from Tommy. It’s not just about making stage pictures or staging the show with him; he is with you every step of the process in terms of shaping the show and forming the show. He lets you know when you are treading water, if you can get somewhere faster. It’s actually kind of hard to overstate it. {x}

And since they’ve worked together so closely and for such a long time, their partnership works like magic and that magic shows on stage.

TK: One of the most striking things about Lin is his openness once he trusts you. That’s the fundamental difference between working now and when we first started; neither of us has to prove anything to each other in terms of our intention, which is always to make the thing better—to make the song better, to make the moment better, to make it sharper, to make it deeper. Lin knows implicitly that all I’m trying to do is service the piece. He learned that very early on with In the Heights. Effectively, our shorthand has gotten shorter. It’s now almost subliminal and non-verbal. There are times when I can just look at him and he knows exactly what I’m going to say and vise-versa. {x}

Best Choreography – Andy Blankenbuehler

On one hand, hip hop. On the other hand, an 18th century ball. HOW? If anyone was to figure out how to make it work, it would be Andy Blankenbuehler. Andy worked with Lin on In The Heights and Bring It On (noticed a theme yet?), and for Hamilton his choreography was informed by not just the music but also the setting and costumes – you move differently in heavy boots and jackets.

Blankebuehler’s big challenge in choreographing Hamilton was keeping the choreography from becoming repetitive while maintaining a cohesive style throughout. Andy solved this dilemma by creating several recurrent “movement phrases”  – I’m just like my country, I’m young scrappy and hungry, for example:

The ensemble is a choreographer’s chance to give voice to things that aren’t being said by the main characters, and for Andy, the ensemble’s point of view had to shift to emphasize different characters’ points of view:

The biggest collaborative thing was figuring out the ensemble’s perspective, the ensemble’s point of view because the strength of the ensemble’s point of view, I think, determines the strength of the musical. If their point of view isn’t clarified, the audience doesn’t invest in them as the lens for the piece. We had constant conversations with ourselves, but also with the cast of like “Right now you’re being Aaron Burr’s ego,” “Right now you’re being a jury that doesn’t have an opinion yet,” “Right now you’re being a jury that’s going to say, ‘Ok, I’m going to listen to Aaron Burr and see what he has to say and I’m going to stand in his shoes.”’  [x]

Modern audiences connect with Hamilton because some feelings and relationships are universal – and it was no different for Blankenbuehler:

I spoke at [the Drama Desk Awards] last year and I was really emotional because that week my daughter was cured of cancer. It was after three years of like chemotherapy every day. And so my family went through a fight for life for three years.

I said that that night in that speech. One of my favorite moments is the rowers and the end of the show when Hamilton’s dying and they’re rowing next to him. Literally, that’s how I felt because of my daughter. And so it’s those moments that are conceptual that I’m really proud of and I’m so thankful that the writers, Lin and [director] Tommy [Kail] and [musical director] Alex [Lacamoire], are trusting dance to accomplish that. [x]

 

Scenic Design – David Korins

Another previous collaborator (Bring It On), David Korins brings a decade of Broadway experience: he has designed sets for Dear Evan Hansen, Misery, Godspell and many more. For Hamilton, Korins took his inspiration from 18th century New York ship yards, the vestiges of which you can still see in the city. The set contains sturdy beams, ropes and platforms, similar to those a young immigrant Hamilton would have first encountered landing in the new country.  Then there’s the turntable, enabling the play to move forward and back through time, to spin faster as Hamilton’s world spins.

With more minute details, Korins shows the transition from the scrappy, under-construction colonies to a new country with a government and politics of its own:

“We go from rifles and racks to scrolls of parchment and maps and fine china, because now they are coming home to govern the country, and start writing laws.And you know, no one sees it. We lose ropes, we tie things off, we buoy and hunker down and become the fledgling nation that we are. No one sees it. They see the turntable, and they’re like, ‘Congratulations, you made a turntable!” [x]

 

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What Comes Next? Fantasy Hamilton Replacement Cast

We know all good things must come to an end, and the reign of the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton can’t be with the show forever. We’ve already said goodbye to Jonathan Groff as King George, and odds are Lin-Manuel is leaving in July, and maybe Leslie too? Despite the fact it will obviously be a sad end of an era with the OBC cast leaving, there are so many talented actors out there who would be perfect for the show. So if we had any say in casting, here are our choices to get in the room where it happens.

Joshua Henry as Alexander Hamilton

Tony-nominated Josh Henry has already worked with Lin in the past, as he was an ensemble member for In The Heights in both the off-Broadway and Broadway productions. In fact, he was in the early Vassar workshops of Hamilton, playing both King George and James Madison/Hercules Mulligan. So why not bring him back to play the lead role? After he ends his run in Shuffle Along, of course. He already did a great job as seen in the video above. HamilJosh? Sign me up.

Kyle Scatliffe as Aaron Burr

I know, he’s busy right now. But think: he has amazing stage presence, he has that perfect tenor/baritone voice, he can play characters in that gray area between good and bad, and I’m sure he would absolutely crush Wait For It. Maybe we’ve never seen him rap, but we’ve seen him cover Tenacious D so we know he can go off-genre.

Taye Diggs as George Washington

I’m not just saying this because we love him. Now that Taye is in his mid-40s (I DON’T KNOW HOW EITHER), I think he has exactly the gravitas needed to pull off a role like George Washington. Let’s talk about One Last Time. Can’t you just hear him singing that? Having an established Broadway veteran playing America’s first president just makes sense. I don’t know whether he can rap (see this) but I feel like he can probably do anything.

Bryshere Gray as James Madison/Hercules Mulligan

 

I tend to think of Hercules Mulligan as the most youthful of Hamilton’s crew (after Laurens, maybe) and I just know Bryshere Gray (Hakeem from Empire/ Yazz The Greatest) could pull off all of the bravado and energy the character has.

 Jordan Fisher as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton

Does this young, strapping man look familiar to you? If you’re of a certain age, you recognize him from the DCOM Teen Beach Movie franchise, but if you’re like us, you’ll know him as Doody from the delightful Grease Live special earlier this year. We basically went through puberty again and swooned after seeing him sing Those Magic Changes, and now that he’s on his own solo career with a R&B/hip-hop vibe, he can fit right in to eventually replace HamHearthrob Anthony Ramos.

Ashley Park as Eliza Hamilton

Ashley Park is currently in The King and I revival on Broadway, and since we just found out the show is closing at the end of the month, let’s give Ashley another job a mile and a half away to the Richard Rodgers, shall we (dance lolololol)? She has a gorge voice and poise on stage that would fit right in with Eliza’s graceful demeanor.

Nikki M. James as Angelica Schuyler

The fab Nikki M. James won a Tony Award for her role as Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon, but if you’ve ever seen the show, you know it’s got a much different vibe than Hamilton. But even in that role, Nabulungi and Angelica have one thing in common – they’re both strong willed women in a male-dominated world, and if Nikki can win a Tony for Nabulungi, she can most def step into bustle for Angelica.

Vanessa Hudgens as and Peggy/Maria Reynolds

Because we loved Grease Live more than we thought we were going to, here’s another musical alum – both of the high school and Broadway varieties. BBV played the good girl in HSM and the bad girl in Grease, a perfect mix needed to play andPeggy/Maria in Hamilton. And if you happen to be one of the people who don’t believe she has the vocal chops, just watch that video above.

Norbert Leo Butz as King George

Oh Norbert. How I love you so. And I want you to be in my life again, and not just on Bloodline. I would like you to specifically join the HamFam because you are talented and great and your voice makes me swoon. The end.

Neil Patrick Harris as King George

I mean, come on. Do I even have to explain this? No. Just enjoy NPH at the Tonys a couple years ago causing a ruckus with a bunch of celebs as Hedwig instead. One of the best-ever performances on the show.

 

Hamilton Explained: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

It’s Hamilweek, and Hamilweek means another Hamilton Explained… but not just any Hamilton Explained. This time around, we’re taking a look at the show’s closing number. It’s our last chance to cry during our Hamilton listening sessions, and we take it every time. (Just kidding. We both carefully select which Act II numbers we’re capable of listening to based on our emotional fortitude at the given moment.) Grab some tissues and Visine, we’re taking it to the finale!

 

[WASHINGTON]

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known

When I was young and dreamed of glory

  • Taking it back to History Has its Eyes On You:

You have no control:

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

  • Continuing the reference to History Has Its Eyes On You. Then it was foreshadowing, now it’s a callback. By this point the dead include Alexander, Phillip, Laurens, and others not specifically mentioned in the show (RIP and Peggy). The living: on one hand, Burr (who continued to refer to Hamilton in frenemy-type terms for the rest of his life) and on the other, Eliza.
  • Then, there’s the casting of Hamilton, which Lin-Manuel Miranda has explained in a number of interviews: the concept is that it is a story about America then, told by America now. Hamilton and the other founding fathers had choices in setting up the American political and monetary systems, but what happened next (what became of America next, who became America next) was out of their hands. Even living the best life, full of the most worthy deeds, is not a guarantee that you will be talked about in centuries’ time – and you have no control over who does the talking, either.

 

[BURR]

President Jefferson:

[JEFFERSON]

I’ll give him this: his financial system is a

Work of genius. I couldn’t undo it if I tried

And I tried

  • This, you already know from the rest of the play. Just call it one of the first great federalist vs states’ rights debates: should there be a national bank (Hamilton) or should money be left to the states’ control (Jefferson)? Will America be built on urban commerce (Hamilton) or an agrarian foundation (Jefferson – and yes, we know who’s really doing the planting)? Since you use the same $$ in all 50 states, you know what happened when Jefferson tried to oppose Hamilton’s financial system. Not to mention, Jefferson hoped for a French/parliamentary system of government, and feared that Hamilton wanted a more English government (constitutional monarchy).

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

[BURR]

President Madison:

[MADISON]

He took our country from bankruptcy to prosperity

I hate to admit it, but he doesn’t get enough credit

For all the credit he gave us

 

  • The US fell into a financial slump after the Revolutionary War (contrast with our postwar economic booms in the 20th century: WWI followed by the prosperous 1920s; the economic success of the 1950s, the ostentatious 1980s (only a good time for the wealthy, granted) following Vietnam. Hamilton’s response was to consolidate state debts and subsume them into the national bank, preventing future catastrophes after war drained the nation’s coffers. He dealt “a new line of credit” via the National Bank – the credit he gave us. Today we see this in large scale – maybe larger than Hamilton would have liked? – in the Federal Reserve.

 

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

[ANGELICA]

Every other founding father story gets told

Every other founding father gets to grow old

 

  • Before this musical and Chernow’s bio, your average American knew about the Aaron Burr duel, the $10 bill, and probably some slivers of recollection about the National Bank and Constitutional Convention from high school history class. The other founding fathers are celebrated in everything from monuments to children’s school pageants: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Jay and James Madison. I didn’t even have to look them up – the only one non-legal-types sometimes forget is John Jay, who may be due for his own hit musical (Jay was our first Chief Justice and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris, BTW).
  • The other Founding Fathers also lived a really long time – most of them were in their 80s when they died, except Hamilton and Washington (who still lived longer than Hamilton, at 67). Maybe it bears mention that most of those low average lifespans for past centuries were skewed by high infant – and to an extent, child – mortality. If you made it to your kid years, there was a good chance you were going to live a full life, not die at 35 or whatever. Hamilton’s death looked tragically young in the 19th century, too.
  • I remember reading – forgive me, I don’t remember where – that in the early 19th century the popular portraits of the founding fathers were of them in later life instead of during their younger years because America was such a young country that having older leaders gave an air of stability, permanency, and history to the fledgling nation.

 

[BURR]

But when you’re gone, who remembers your name?

Who keeps your flame?

  • In Burn, Eliza takes fire to Hamilton’s letters – incinerates them; destroys them. In Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story, Eliza keeps the fire of Alexander’s legacy alive – fans the flames, but this time it means something different.

 

[BURR AND MEN]

Who tells your story?
Who tells your story?

[ANGELICA AND WOMEN]

Who tells your story?

Your story?

[WOMEN]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I put myself back in the narrative

 

  • Full circle: let me be part of the narrative (That Would Be Enough); I’m myself from the narrative (Burn); I put myself back in the narrative.
  • In an interview (one of Phillipa Soo or LMM’s Theater People episodes maybe?? Correct me if you know), they discussed that the “narrative” theme didn’t emerge until they were writing one of the later songs – I want to say this one, but possibly Burn – then LMM retroactively worked it into That Would Be Enough.

 

[WOMEN]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I stop wasting time on tears

I live another fifty years

It’s not enough

  • Eliza died in 1854, long enough to see interstate railroads, the admission of over 30 states, the California Gold Rush, and the growth of the abolitionist movement. She was 97, and much celebrated as the “last living link to the Revolutionary era” 

[COMPANY]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I interview every soldier who fought by your side

  • Eliza was dedicated to preserving Alexander’s legacy by creating an honest biography of him – he was still a somewhat maligned character in those days. Her son John Church Hamilton edited her papers, publishing them after her death in 1861.

[MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE/LAURENS]

She tells our story

[ELIZA]

I try to make sense of your thousands of pages of writings

You really do write like you’re running out of

  • Also true – thousands of Hamilton’s papers survive to this day, and Eliza considered it her life’s work to document and organize them.

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[ELIZA]

I rely on—

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

Angelica

  • Angelica lived abroad for much of the years that Hamilton took place (you can read her letters too). By the time Alexander dies, she is living much closer to Eliza – though still a trip in 19th century terms – in the Southern Tier of New York (in a town, Angelica, that is still named after her.  I used to go through it on the way to see my grandparents as a kid. You can still see her house.)

[ELIZA]

While she’s alive—

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

We tell your story

[ELIZA]

She is buried in Trinity Church

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

Near you

Here. 

 

[ELIZA]

When I needed her most, she was right on—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

  • As I said above, from 1797 on, Angelica was in the United States.

[ELIZA]

And I’m still not through

I ask myself, “What would you do if you had more—”

 

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

  • Time is a theme throughout the play – wanting more of it, wanting to make the most of it, not knowing how much of it you have, not being able to speed it up or slow it down. Write like you’re running out of time, don’t throw away your shot, non-stop (unless you’re the other type, and you’re willing to wait for it).
  • 1804 or 2016, this is what you spend every day trying to answer when you love somebody and they die too soon. 

[ELIZA]

The Lord, in his kindness

He gives me what you always wanted

He gives me more—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

 

[ELIZA]

I raise funds in D.C. for the Washington Monument

  • Just as Hamilton didn’t live to see the full effects of his financial plan, Eliza didn’t live to see the monument, which opened in 1888 (I refer to The World Was Wide Enough: What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see)

[WASHINGTON]

She tells my story

 

[ELIZA]

I speak out against slavery

  • Here, Washington takes a step back, ashamed: he was maybe our greatest founder, but he may have had it in his power to undo the greatest systemic evil of our country, and he did not.
  • Incidentally, this number was the last one to be staged, it became apparent that the most logical staging was to have the cast stand and surround Eliza.

You could have done so much more if you only had—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

 

[ELIZA]

And when my time is up, have I done enough?

[ELIZA]

Will they tell our story?

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?

[ELIZA]

Oh. Can I show you what I’m proudest of?

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

  • In case you’re wondering, this is the point in the soundtrack where over 70% of listeners begin crying (fake statistic; feels likely).

[ELIZA]

I established the first private orphanage in New York City

  • “On March 15th, 1806, Elizabeth and a small group of women had gathered to form the Orphan Asylum Society to care for children who were orphaned from epidemics of cholera and yellow fever. Their mission was clear, “To help the afflicted and the needy others have forgotten; to provide them with the education and training they need to become productive, contributing members of society: to help them realize their capacity for happiness and success which belongs to all human beings.…” On May 1, 1806 they opened the doors of the Society’s first home, a rented two-story frame house on Raisin Street. Twelve orphans were admitted in the first six months and by the end of the year, 200 orphaned children had been admitted.”(http://39hwwr39mt3mqsp5fnf1q714zb.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Read-More…Elizabeth-Schuyler.pdf)
  • Children may be our most vulnerable population, but they also carried the fewest legal protections in the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century – childhood as a concept didn’t really exist, and children were barely better than property. There were not consistent systems in place to care for and house orphaned and abandoned children, and those that existed were poorly regulated. The children’s rights movement didn’t take off in earnest until a few decades after Eliza’s death, when a woman named Etta Wheeler appealed to the ASPCA for help securing protection for a beaten foster child — there was a society to protect animals, but not children. All this to say that an orphanage aiming to educate children and release them into adult society – rather than just house them and work them – was relatively revolutionary and Eliza and her friends were ahead of their time.
  • I know this is a tangent, but it matters: you can read more about Etta Wheeler, and little Mary Ellen McCormack here. The fight for children’s rights and protection is an important chapter in American social history and jurisprudence, but it just isn’t taught.
  • By the way, Eliza did this less than two years after her husband’s death while raising 8 children alone.

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

[ELIZA]

I help to raise hundreds of children

I get to see them growing up

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

 

[ELIZA]

In their eyes I see you, Alexander

I see you every—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[ELIZA]

And when my time is up

Have I done enough?

Will they tell my story?

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?

[ELIZA]

Oh, I can’t wait to see you again

It’s only a matter of—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?
Will they tell your story?
Who lives, who dies—

[COMPANY]

Time…

Time…
Time…

[FULL COMPANY]

Who tells your story?

See also: 

Hamilton Explained: The Schuyler Sisters

Hamilton Explained: Ten Duel Commandments

Hamilton Explained: Cabinet Battle #1 (As Kanye Rant Tweets)

Hamilton Explained: Appointing A Supreme Court Justice (using Hamilton lyrics to explain the process of nominating and confirming a new SCJ)

Hamilton Explained: Guns and Ships 

 

Playlist of the Month: HamilCast Cover Songs

Welcome to Day 2 of #Hamilweek! Today we’re incorporating out recurring Playlist of the Month feature with all things Hamilton, and what better way to feature the cast members than showing off their beautiful voices? And we’re not just talking about the leads. The bench on this show runs deep. Like, members of the ensemble have had their own leading roles like Elphaba in Wicked. These folks do not play. Here are just some examples of the cast’s wonderful talents, wrapped in glorious cover songs you probably already know.

Joy to the World by Various Cast Members

For nearly two decades, Broadway starts record classic holiday tunes for an album called Carols for a Cure, and the proceeds to towards Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. For the 2015 edition, Leslie Odom, Jr. led a new arrangement of Joy to the World, with additional lyrics from Oak Onaodowan. With the help of 11 other cast members, the squad makes an overplayed Christmas carol refreshing again and uplifts your spirit any time of the year.

Bet On It by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Back in the In The Heights days, Lin was as active on the YouTube as he is on Twitter today. Ok, maybe not that active, but still. He had enough time to make short movies like this one, which is technically not a cover song, but a parody of the High School Musical 2 classic Bet On It, as performed by Zac Efron. For context, Lin made this to promote the transfer of In The Heights from The Public to the Broadway – ironically to the Richard Rodgers Theater where Hamilton currently plays. The sound is evident Lin made this at home on his computer (much like his Hamilton demos), but the comparison to HSM is pretty spot on. Also he’s a huge dork. Also also once you finish watching this and finish freaking out over the surprise cameos, watch this.

Anything Goes by Jonathan Groff

Speaking of the oh so cute Jonathan Groff, it’s important you know he was, is, and always will be a Sutton Foster fangirl. So when he did the annual Miscast benefit (in which Broadway stars sing parts they’ll never get) he naturally chose a role Sutton was in at the time, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. The title song involves a lot of tap dancing on Reno’s part, and Groffsauce was up for the challenge. He continues to be the cutest.

Good For You by Leslie Odom, Jr. featuring Daveed Diggs

I’m like 95.3% sure I got pregnant after listening to this for the first time. I mean, it’s been months and I don’t have a baby keeping me up at night, so maybe not really. I’m just saying, as much as you try to prepare yourself for this, you’ll never be. PS: If you’re a Spring Awakening fan, also listen to Leslie’s cover of The Guilty Ones. That song might get you preggo too. Thanks, LOJ.

Higher Love/Rather Be/Human Nature by Jasmine Cephas Jones and Anthony Ramos

Talk about couple goals. Jasmine and Anthony are Hamilton’s true (offstage) love story, and while they don’t get to duet in the show, their voices are beautifully blended together in this mash-up by Hamilton associate conductor Kurt Crowley. Not to sound too stalkery – a thing all stalkers say – I would pay to watch these two just casually singing around the house. Can you imagine?

Ego/Too Close/Back That Thang Up by Phillipa Soo

If you haven’t heard of The Skivvies, this probably looks weird. If you have, probs not as weird. The Skivvies is made up of  Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, who perform literal stripped down versions of hit songs and thrown in originals of their own. Here we have the beautifully bare Pippa Soo, killing a Bey song and in sparkly hot pants no less. What a dream.

Brave by Alysha Deslorieux

Ok, so remember how I said the bench is deep on this show? Say hello to Alysha. She is a standby for all the female leads/Schuyler sisters: Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy/Maria, so if any of them are out, she steps right on in. And it’s easy to see why. She’s a vocal powerhouse and able to evoke emotion through her tone, as seen in this cover of Sara Bareilles’ Brave. Now just imagine her singing Burn.

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Sydney Harcourt

Moving right along, Sydney is an ensemble member who plays the Doctor, Philip Schuyler, James Reynolds, and he also understudies for Burr and Washington. Word on the street is that he’s killed it as Washington, even saving the day when Chris Jackson got some allergic reaction and had to pull out after Act I! Anyways, here is Sydney singing Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Ella Fitzgerald and it’s easy to see why he understudies for Mr. Silky Smooth Leslie Odom, Jr.

Ladies Who Lunch by Ariana DeBose

Ariana is also an ensemble member who’s lovingly nicknamed The Bullet, because *semi-spoiler alert* the duel between A.Ham and Burr involves a cast member acting as the actual Bullet used to kill Hamilton. I KNOW. And Ariana is just as fiery as her onstage counterpart (see what I did there?). First of all, if she looks familiar, it’s because she was a contestant on the underrated and underwatched sixth season of So You Think You Can Dance. She was also in Bring It On the Musical, which Lin also wrote, Motown the Musical and Pippin. I never knew she had a voice/could act until I saw her in Bring It On, and with a cover of Sondheim’s tricky Ladies Who Lunch from Company, it’s clear why she’s on Broadway so often.

Never Can Say Goodbye by Austin Smith

Like Sydney, Austin is also an ensemble member who covers tracks for Burr and Washington, as well as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison. I couldn’t find any other vids of him singing, so here’s a low quality Ham4Ham of him singing Michael Jackson and I just want him to appear in more Ham4Hams. Or be in the cast still when we see it in T- four months. !

Best of Hams & Best of Ham4Hams

Welcome to #Hamilweek! The Tony Awards are this Sunday, and until then we’re going to write like we’re running out of time (sorry). Hamilton is one of the first hit musicals of the social media era. Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast realize that a majority of the fans can’t make it to the show, so they try their best to bring an up-close experience to their supporters through the magic of the internet. Case in point: Ham4Ham. Originally intended to give people who don’t win the ticket lotto a consolation prize, it has grown into a must-watch YouTube sensation. We could easily put every damn Ham4Ham on the list, but we tried to narrow it down a bit. Here are some of the best of Hams and best of Ham4Hams:

 

We Three Kings

Hamilton has been #blessed with three (now four) very talented men to play King George – Brian d’Arcy James, Jonathan Groff and Andrew Rannells. The great tragedy is that they never get to grace the stage at the same time. So it was invevitable that a Hamilfan suggested the three of them get together to sing The Schuyler Sisters. Request on Twitter and ye shall receive, so Lin organized this lip sync version featuring royalty. I love this because someone actually cut all the best angles together to create the best supercut. The fandom is great. – T

Star Techs

An amazing example of the behind-the-scenes coordination and dedication needed to produce a single number in the show. Ladies and gentlemen, I present stage manager Jason Bassett calling cues with the rhythm and timing of a star performer. -M

I Don’t Own Emotion, I Rent

For the 20th anniversary of Rent, we dedicated a week of posts to the revolutionary rock musical. Similarly, Lin sang What You Own with a very special guest (still not over this). -T

Patti LuP-owned It

Whenever I’m tempted to half-ass something from now on, I’m going to remember that Patti LuPone does the whole damn introduction to Give My Regards To Broadway that NOBODY DOES. -M

I’ma Compel Him To Include Women in the Sequel

First the Kings take over for the Schuyler Sisters, then the fierce women take over for A. Ham and the rest of the squad for My Shot. There was a rumor a while ago that the touring production was auditioning females for the male roles and vice versa – it proved to me false, but this video alone shows the ladies are more than ready to go. – T

THIS IS PAVEMENT YOU GUYS.

This is one of those Ham4Hams that has nothing to do with the show – not the performers, not the music, just members of the New York City ballet making my brain explode by performing on the sidewalk so beautifully that it made me want to cry. -M

WERK

For one day, the #Ham4Ham turned into #Bam4Ham, as the the cast took a field trip to Washington D.C. to perform for the president. Naturally, Lin took advantage of the setting and recorded three digital Ham4Hams, including this one, which again features the ladies of the show. I still get chills every time I watch it. Which is a lot. It’s a reminder that the story they’re telling at the Richard Rodgers stemmed from real events, not just made up characters for a Broadway show. That Hamilton and the rest of the founding fathers built this nation from the ground up, and these beautiful actors have the privilege of telling their story.  -T

Fun Ham

If you’ve read Chernow’s biography, or just engaged in some deep-Googling, you probably know that Alexander and Eliza had eight children. And if you’re a youngest or middle child, you won’t be surprised that everyone only talks about the oldest. The Fun Home kids bring the other Hamilton sibs to life and tell you a little about their accomplishments. Is Oscar Williams old enough to play Phillip when Anthony Ramos leaves (long may Anthony Ramos remain, though)? -M

Minamahal Kita

This Ham4Ham holds a special place in my heart because it was the video that informed me Lin’s longterm girlfriend in college was Filipino. And like the type of Filipino that taught her boyfriend conversational Tagalog. And that Lin is the type of person that would compose a song in Taglish (Tagalog and English) to mack on his girl. My brain exploded and all that came out were the emojis with heart eyes. Oh, also Queen of the Philippines Lea Salonga is in this too. -T

Heights4Ham

Chances are if you love Hamilton, you loved Lin’s first venture, In The Heights, as well … and this miniature ITH reunion was better than I even hoped for. Karen Olivo, everyone! -M

Funny Girl

Has anyone proven that Jasmine Cephas Jones ISN’T magic? At least a little bit?

Silky Strikes Again

Leslie Odom Jr. could me the McDonalds value menu and I’d be so enthralled by it that I’d buy every damn thing. But when you mix my fave track Wait For It with an emotional song like Stars from Les Mis – forget it. I am undone. -T

~*BFFLs*~

I love Jimmy Fallon. I love Lin-Manuel Miranda. They are both equally cinnamon rolls too precious for this world. So when they get together it’s sugar overload. What? Yes. Just watch. – T

If I Was A Schuyler

Tevye’s daughters from the Fiddler On The Roof (including Lin’s former intern!) make their best case for appearing as the Schuyler sisters. I’m sold. -M

Kyle Jean-Baptiste

Summer 2015: in addition to the diverse cast playing the founding fathers in Hamilton, Broadway had its first black Valjean in Kyle Jean-Baptiste. You could, and can, feel theater changing. This is bittersweet now: Kyle died tragically at just 21 years old, but thanks to this Ham4Ham we can still appreciate his talent.