Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Nas, President Obama, Questlove in PBS Documentary on Broadway’s Hamilton (Clips)

Nas and Lin-Manuel Miranda, discussing hip-hop storytelling in a scene from Hamilton's America. Credit: RadicalMedia
Nas and Lin-Manuel Miranda, discussing hip-hop storytelling in a scene from Hamilton’s America. Credit: RadicalMedia

*For those who have given up on trying to see Hamilton on Broadway, PBS has your next best option with tomorrow night’s premiere of “Hamilton’s America,” a documentary hosted by the show’s creator Lin Manuel-Miranda and featuring interviews with President Obama, Nas and Questlove of The Roots, among others.

The network’s Great Performances Facebook page will also stream “Hamilton’s America” through Facebook Live at the time of the broadcast — Friday, October 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Additionally, the film will be available at that time on all Great Performances and PBS video outlets, including PBS Anywhere apps and “Hamilton’s America” will also be available on those platforms for four weeks following the broadcast. After that point, the film will only be available to members of Passport-enabled stations.

More about “Hamilton’s America” below, via PBS:

Produced by Academy Award and Emmy Award-winning producers RadicalMedia (What Happened, Miss Simone?, Keith Richards: Under The Influence, In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams for PBS) and directed by Alex Horwitz, Hamilton’s America delves even deeper into the creation of the show, revealing Miranda’s process of absorbing and then adapting Hamilton’s epic story into groundbreaking musical theater.

Further fleshing out the story is newly shot footage of the New York production with its original cast, trips to historic locations, such as Mt. Vernon and Valley Forge with Miranda and other cast members, and a surprising range of interviews with prominent personalities, experts, politicians, and musicians   including President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Secretary Hank Paulson, Secretary Timothy Geithner, Questlove, Black Thought, Jimmy Fallon, John Weidman, Nas and Stephen Sondheim. 

President Barack Obama and Lin-Manuel Miranda in the West Wing of the White House, March 2016, in a scene fromHamilton’s America (photo: The White House).
President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda for the PBS documentary “Hamilton’s America” in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 14, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Hamilton’s America shows just how timeless the hot-button issues of today’s America are: immigration, States’ rights, debt, income inequality, and race relations. These were the same fights that defined Hamilton’s time, and they are the driving force of Miranda’s historic work. The film endeavors to brush the dust off American history, much as the musical does, and provide a unique new way for us to view our national heritage and current political landscape.

L to R: Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Jasmine Cephas Jones at the Morristown Green in Morristown, NJ, in between filming scenes for Hamilton's America (photo: RadicalMedia).
L to R: Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Jasmine Cephas Jones at the Morristown Green in Morristown, NJ, in between filming scenes for Hamilton’s America (photo: RadicalMedia).

A unique window into the artistry and research involved in making the show, viewers will witness Miranda at the White House in 2009 performing an early version of what would become “Alexander Hamilton,” the first number in the musical and they will also be given an inside view of Miranda as he composes songs in Aaron Burr’s Manhattan bedroom. They will travel to Virginia with Christopher Jackson – who was Tony-nominated for his portrayal of George Washington in the musical -as he reveals his personal struggle preparing for the role, while grappling with our Founders’ legacy of slavery. Back in New York, Miranda, who originated the Tony-nominated role of Hamilton in the musical and Leslie Odom, Jr. – who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Aaron Burr – visit the Museum of American Finance to get a deeper understanding of the historical figures they are depicting on stage, including a memorable moment from this research trip, when the two actors brandish authentic 19th-century dueling pistols.

The dedicated “Hamilton’s America” hashtag: #HamilDocPBS.

Watch the extended trailer and a clip below:

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