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The biggest lesson Lin-Manuel Miranda learned from ‘Hamilton’

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer
Lin-Manuel Miranda with Michelle Obama (Getty Images)

“Hamilton” is one of the most successful productions in modern musical theater history. The epic hip hop and rap musical has had an indelible impact on pop culture, breaking the Broadway box office in the process.

During Thanksgiving week 2016, “Hamilton” grossed $3.3 million for an eight performance week, becoming the first show to break $3 million in eight performances. While it’s easy to declare “Hamilton” a no-brainer home run now, success was far from guaranteed.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Miranda details the biggest lesson he took away from writing the Tony award-winning musical.

“You have to listen to your gut… even though everyone tells you it’s a crazy fucking idea.. No one reads Hamilton and thinks about a hip hop story of the founding fathers. I thought everyone was crazy for not having written it. How can they not see that? I very quickly realized I needed to write it,” he said.

Miranda first performed the first few lyrics of Alexander Hamilton in 2009 — at the White House in front of Michelle and Barack Obama. Michelle has called “Hamilton” the best art she’s seen in her life. She reiterates this in her new book, “Becoming,” though she admits that she was skeptical about how something as dry as the history of the founding fathers could be made into a full-fledged musical.

“[Miranda] said he was gonna perform a piece on Alexander Hamilton. And Barack and I almost laughed in his face. And he went out and performed the first number of the now award winning musical. And afterwards he said, “I think I’m gonna go and turn this into a Broadway show,” she said in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts.

Another important layer to the process is the necessity to recognize the power of rest. Miranda read Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton on vacation.

“Whenever my life gets too hectic and I feel like I’m piling on too much, I remind myself that the best idea came to me when I took a fucking break. I believe that you have to listen to the idea that demands to be written,” he said.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technologyand real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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