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What I Learned – 23 Hamilton Behind The Scenes Facts That Are Incredible

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Daveed Diggs raps around six words a second during “Guns and Ships.”


First, Hamilton was filmed over the course of three days and is a combination of filming two live performances and filming close-ups, dolly shots, Steadicam and crane shots without an audience.


Lin-Manuel Miranda explained, “We filmed a live performance with cameras in the audience on a Sunday matinee. We continued to film close-ups, dolly shots, and crane shots all night Sunday. All day Monday we filmed close-ups and Steadicam, and all the coverage you would want to get in the movie. Continuing to film Tuesday morning, all the way to another live show Tuesday night with all the cameras in the audience in different positions.”


In total, Jonathan Groff is only on stage for nine minutes as King George III — he said the role helped him figure out how to “do a lot with a little.”


The song that left the biggest impression on Leslie Odom Jr. after he saw Hamilton during an early staging was “The Story of Tonight.”


Leslie explained, “Never in my life, you see, had I seen four men of color on a stage singing together about friendship and brotherhood.”


Okieriete Onaodowan was originally called in to audition for George Washington before being asked to play Hercules Mulligan/James Madison.


Chris Jackson was doing Holler If Ya Hear Me at the time.


Everyone agrees that the most difficult part of the rehearsal process for Hamilton was “learning ‘Helpless’ and ‘Satisfied’ on a turntable.”


Okieriete explained that they actually learned all of the choreography without the turntable and then when they got to the theater they had to essentially relearn it.


Before coming up with “Satisfied,” Lin-Manuel wasn’t even sure Angelica would be a character in Hamilton — he didn’t think he had would have “time to get into that.”


Also, Ratatouille helped the creative team come up with the idea of time stopping, going into Angelica’s mind, and learning her feelings about Eliza and Hamilton’s relationship in “Satisfied.”


Director Thomas Kail said, “This is something I talk to the actors playing Angelica a lot — about Ratatouille. When the critic takes the bite, and you go into the critic’s eye, that’s what we’re doing.”


Even though Renée Elise Goldsberry is rapping and performing “Helpless” backward during “Satisfied,” she found the final toast the most challenging part of the entire number.


She explained, “Every word is crafted to analytically take this woman on an emotional, life-altering decision for these three lives. That decision was such a monumentally painful and beautiful thing to do that by the time I’d get to that moment in which she makes that decision, I was so devastated that it was hard to sing that toast.”


Lin-Manuel actually added an entire second section to “Guns and Ships” for Daveed Diggs simply because they were all so impressed with his sense of rhythm.


Also, during Lafayette’s fastest rap in “Guns and Ships,” Daveed Diggs averages around 6.3 words a second — it’s the fastest-paced lyrics in musical theater history.


Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler was the one who came up with the concept for The Bullet as a character and then, Ariana DeBose “ran with it.”


In fact, Ariana’s performance is something you might miss the first time around, but if you watch her, The Bullet essentially becomes an omen of death throughout the entire show.


Lin-Manuel wrote the middle portion of “Right Hand Man” during a tech rehearsal — there wasn’t time to type up the lyrics, so music director and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire worked off of Lin’s scribbled notes.

.@Lin_Manuel came up with that middle section during tech. I took this screenshot of his notebook so we could incorporate it into the chart.

11:27 PM – 03 Jul 2020

Twitter: @LacketyLac / Via Twitter: @LacketyLac


Phillipa Soo would stay completely in character when Eliza sits next to Philip while teaching him piano. Andrew Chappelle, who understudied Philip, said they would talk about Philip being nervous to perform the poem for Hamilton.


During “Dear Theodosia,” Leslie Odom Jr. would actually bow his head and say a little prayer for his daughter, who wasn’t born yet.


So by the end of his run in Hamilton, Leslie had said “over 500 prayers” for his future daughter.


Renée Elise and Lin-Manuel would watch Phillipa perform “Burn” every single night offstage in the wings.


Also, the letters are on a type of paper that burns for around two minutes and nine seconds — this is so the flame is noticeable while Eliza is onstage, but extinguishes so she can exit in a blackout at the end of the song.


Daveed originally improvised Jefferson’s “France” line during “What’d I Miss” and they decided to keep it in the show.


The meaning of Eliza’s final gasp often changed for Phillipa, but she thinks it can be interpreted as a combination of Eliza getting to heaven, Eliza seeing Alexander, and even Eliza seeing the audience and realizing her legacy.


She explained, “People are like, ‘Is it Eliza going into heaven? Is she seeing Alexander? Is she seeing God? What is it?’ And it’s kind of all of those things. Sometimes, it’s literally, I look out and I see the audience, and that’s what it is, but I think that idea of transcendence is present in all of that.”


In fact, the final gasp wasn’t written in the script and the show simply ended with the final notes of “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” — Lin-Manuel realized they could add another moment that would “extend beyond” the end.


Thomas Kail explained that each conversation about what the gasp means is “very distinct” between each actor who has played Eliza.


And finally, the locations featured in the “Special Thanks” portion of the credits are all of the places Lin-Manuel wrote Hamilton over the course of 7 years.


Lin revealed that he wrote “Wait For It” on the A train, “You’ll Be Back” on his honeymoon, and “Dear Theodosia” in Dominican Republic.

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