‘Hamilton’: The Death Scene Lin-Manuel Miranda Cut From the Show
Ever since its debut in 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway sensation, Hamilton, was a rare experience that only the lucky few got to enjoy. The show on Broadway, as well as touring performances, consistently sold-out despite high ticket prices.
For many, their only hope of seeing the show was in the hands of the fates as they waited for their shot at winning the ticket lottery. Now, however, with Broadway stages shut down until at least 2021, eager fans can now see Hamilton streaming on Disney+.
The cinematic version of the show was filmed over three days as performed by the original Broadway cast in 2016, with Miranda playing the titular role. It was filmed just days before his final performance with the show on July 9th, after which the role was passed on to another actor.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’ is far more than just a musical
Hamilton took Miranda six years to write, and when it hit the stage, it brought US history to audiences in a way they had never seen before. The entire two-and-a-half-hour show is performed with singing, rapping, and even some beatboxing, by a diverse cast in a rich pastiche of various musical styles with very little spoken dialogue.
The show tells the history of Alexander Hamilton’s life and his role in the Revolutionary War, crafting the Constitution, and beyond. Other notable historical figures include Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs), George Washington (Chris Jackson), James Madison (Okieriete Onaodowan), King George (Jonathan Groff), and Hamilton’s rival and eventual executioner, Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.).
The Schuyler Sisters, played by Renée Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, and Jasmine Cephas Jones, also play a prominent role in the musical, with Soo taking the final downstage moment as her character, Eliza Hamilton (Schuyler), takes a final gasp after her husband’s death.
With so many historical deaths featured in ‘Hamilton,’ which didn’t make the cut?
In a tweet from 2018, Miranda shared a recording on Soundcloud, and an image of a cut page of lyrics from the original script that featured the death of George Washington. The song “One Last Ride Reprise” was eventually cut from the show because, as Miranda tweeted, “no time, no time, cut the tune, keep it moving.”
Washington died of a throat infection, and though there was a great outpouring of grief, the death did little to move the story forward. Ultimately though the song was moving, the scene failed to have the “bang” that the other death scenes in the show provided. The two duels that did make it into the show lead up to the third and final duel between Burr and Hamilton, provided much-needed foreshadowing and featured versions of the upbeat song, “Ten Duel Commandments.”
Despite the diverse casting, ‘Hamilton’ is now facing criticism
Before writing Hamilton, Manuel had his first Broadway success with his musical In the Heights, which was about a Latino neighborhood in New York City, Washington Heights.
He told NPR: “In the Heights really came out of a result of seeing [and] writing what I saw as missing in the musical theater canon for Latinos, and really as simple as: Can we not be holding knives in a gang in the ’50s?”
When it came time to cast Hamilton, Miranda was not going to continue the status quo of only casting white actors to play white historical figures, a convention that has helped perpetuate discriminatory casting. “I think it takes on a different meaning when you see black and brown performers telling the origin story of our country,” he explained in a promotional video for the show.
Social consciousness has changed, however, since 2015, and many now think it’s no longer enough to provide more opportunities and parts for BIPOC actors. Hamilton is being criticized for glossing over the very real reality that all the characters were either slave owners or complicit in the system of slavery, a criticism that Miranda has said was “valid.”