Hamilton: The Creative Process Observed

As General Managers, we are most closely associated with the business side of a Broadway or Off-Broadway production. We create budgets, negotiate contracts and try to create a sustainable business for what is, in practice, a start-up venture.

But we are also very closely involved in helping producers assemble a creative team. Many producers look to us to recommend directors, choreographers, designers and arrangers. And it is the job of the creative team to transform words on a page into a fully realized artistic vision. 

Watching the cast of Hamilton perform on the Grammy Awards, in full costume and on the set of its Broadway production, I was struck by how many thousands of decisions the creative team had to make for each moment of the opening number. From the words that Lin-Manuel Miranda originally wrote there was nothing inevitable in how the fully staged song should look and feel. 

Those colorless period costumes are the work of costume designer Paul Tazewell. Oh, and did you notice that Aaron Burr isn't wearing a white jacket like the rest of the cast? That's a creative choice. That half beat when the actors pause between "you never learn to take your" and "time" was a decision by the show's music director, orchestrator and arranger, Alex Lacamoire. 

If you really want to get a sense of just how many countless decisions the creative team made, watch the following two videos back to back. The first is the now famous video of Miranda and Lacamoire performing the opening number in 2009, before there were any sets, costumes or choreography. Then watch the video from the Grammy Awards. 

You can watch the Grammy performance on The Verge (I would have embedded the video but CBS has it behind a paywall). 

Pretty amazing, right?