Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda recently sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an interview as part of OWN's SuperSoul Sessions. As he began to discuss bringing Hamilton to Puerto Rico, where Miranda’s family is from, he said, “It's impossible to talk about this without crying, so I'm just going to cry while I talk.”
“I knew I was taking Hamilton to Puerto Rico the second we got our New York Times review, and I knew this thing was going to run and have a tour,” he adds in the video below. In an interview not long after the Broadway opening, Miranda promised he would play Hamilton when that happened. Plans were already in the works for a production of the 2016 Tony-winning Best Musical on the island; when Hurricane Maria struck the island, Miranda and team simply sped up the announcement.
His insistence on a Puerto Rican production and his return to the role goes back to his first Tony-winning Best Musical, In The Heights. The story centers on first-generation immigrants Usnavi (from the Dominican) and Nina (from Puerto Rico) who struggle to feel like they belong in either New York or their families' homelands.
Miranda recalls the reaction to In The Heights’ Puerto Rico engagement: “In The Heights was the first Equity tour ever to go to Puerto Rico. I jumped into a tour in progress to play Usnavi [the role he originated on Broadway] for a week. It closed something in me I didn’t even know was open... The love that came out of there—one review was like ‘This show is about our families who left. It’s a dispatch from the people who left and it’s them telling us they’re ok.’”
In essence, Miranda’s mounting of Hamilton in Puerto Rico is a way of revisiting that community and that response. “It was the most creatively and emotionally fulfilling week of my life. So I knew I was going to bring Hamilton back and I knew I was going to play Hamilton because I just wanted to feel that again,” says Miranda through tears. “It’s coming at a time of great use. The goal is basically to have one third of the tickets be $10 and affordable to Puerto Rico on the island and really wildly overprice the other tickets for tourists so that that money can restore arts funding in Puerto Rico.”
The production will run January 8–27, 2019, at the University of Puerto Rico's Teatro UPR in San Juan, marking Miranda's first time back in the show since ending his run in the Broadway production in July 2016.