History was made yet again at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. In celebration of the release of the first Hamilton Mixtape, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning score performed by the most sought-after pop artists of our generation, Hamilton threw a #Ham4Ham destined to go down in the books: a live performance of four Mixtape tunes performed by the artists who recorded them. Buy the album here.
Hamilfans, as they’re called, lined the streets to get inside the room where it went down beginning at 1 PM. DJ !llmind was spinning as fans filled the theatre, and producer Jeffrey Seller was roaming through the orchestra saying his hellos.
It was truly a history-making moment for Broadway. As Questlove and The Roots took the stage to host the #Ham4Ham (and perform “My Shot”), the theatre pulsed. Audience members were throwing their hands up and practically dancing in their seats. Rap, R&B, and hip-hop artists were putting on a concert on a Broadway stage, singing a Tony Award-winning score from a musical that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Miranda, however, was unable to see it all happen live; he’s in London shooting Mary Poppins Returns. “Hello, hello, hello!” he said via a prerecorded video that was broadcast at the theatre. “It’s Lin Miranda. I so wish I could be there with you in person, but I’m so thrilled that you are going to hear some songs from the Hamilton Mixtape tonight. We’ve worked for over a year on this, and I can’t wait to bring it to you. In fact, we have a little surprise for you. We’ve got physical copies of the Mixtape for you guys out in the merch lobby and across the street at our merch store.”
Physical copies were being sold in the aisles and after the show. Questlove was among the first at the souvenir counter after the performance, purchasing ten Hamilton Mixtape albums and taking a few selfies with fans before ducking out and getting in his car parked on 46th Street.
Prior to that, he was onstage welcoming to the stage indie-pop singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, known for hits such as “Samson,” “Us,” and “Fidelity,” to sing “Dear Theodosia”; R&B star Andra Day, whose “Rise Up” was Grammy-nominated, to bring down the house with “Burn”; and iconic hip-hop duo Ashanti and Ja Rule, who ran the radio in the early 2000s with songs like “Always on Time” and “What’s Luv,” to close the afternoon with “Helpless.” It was the first time Ashanti and Ja Rule performed a song together since they released music with Murder Inc. Records in the early 2000s.
Fans were standing for Day throughout her performance, screaming at every new vocal nuance and inflection she added to “Burn,” and cheering on Spektor, Ashanti, and Ja Rule while simultaneously singing along with the Broadway score.
It was a first for Broadway—immersing such artists on the Great White Way for a fusion of musical theatre, hip-hop, and R&B that was live-streamed to the world. Or, as said in Hamilton: history.
Michael Gioia is the Features Manager at Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.