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Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton" comes to Puerto Rico

Lin Manuel Miranda Center, raises the Puerto Rico flag after the sold-out opening night performance of the award-winning Broadway musical "Hamilton" in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo / For the Washington Post)

With Lin-Manuel Miranda again as his star opened the famous Broadway battle "Hamilton" for operations in Puerto Rico this weekend – The The deal that strengthens the hopes and finances of a beleaguered US territory is abolished in debt and still deletes from the devastation that 16 months ago was caused by Hurricane Maria.

The first performance on the Friday night of the Tony-winning music at Centro de Bellas Artes in the heart of the island's capital highlighted one of the most extraordinary events in the nation's stage art history . Here was a show that arrived not only to entertain, but also to earn a humanitarian mission: to get money for the relief effort. But the endeavor was also to draw the world's attention to an American outpost that for a long time felt neglected by the country that owns it, and especially in the aftermath of a disaster such as the traumatized island.

Miranda's mission achieved an emotional crescendo as a new "Hamilton" tour production – the musical's sixth incarnation – celebrated its official opening to the hustle and bustle of an excess sellout audience. When the actor made his entrance, under the opening number "Alexander Hamilton", it was the audience who ended the show, with a prolonged, on-going ovation. At the curtain call nearly three hours later, Miranda returned with a tear figure ending with him pulling a large Puerto Rican flag under the underwear and holding it high.

"I just love the island so much," he said during a conference after the show, "and I just want it to be proud of me."

The special 23-performance "Hamilton" performance to Puerto Rico, a Caribbean Island of 3.5 Million People It's not a normal stop for Broadway productions, it was really a love vessel for Miranda and his father, Luis Miranda, a Portuguese Indian who made a name for himself in New York City's democratic politics. They won over the producers and investors of the show – which meant as much as $ 4 million a week on Broadway alone – to donate the entire proceeds of the San Juan commitment, after running costs, to a fund to fight for Portuguese artists and art institutions. The fund, managed by the local Flamboyan Foundation, which also has a Washington arm, stands to receive $ 15 million from the Hamilton race, according to Luis Miranda.

"I am so glad he brought us this art, which means so much to us as Puerto Rican, not just as Americans," says Roberto Ramos Perea, a famous playwright and director here who stands for the theater program Ateneo Puertorriqueño, The island's oldest art institution and a store for its dramatic literature over the centuries. "This guy," said Perea about Lin-Manuel Miranda, "has done something difficult to do: getting the attention of the whole world to us".

Puerto Rico playwright and director Roberto Ramos Perea leads the theater program at Ateneo Puertorriqueño, the island's oldest art institution and a repository for its dramatic literature. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo / For the Washington Post)

It is hard to come up with a precedent for a Broadway musical undergirding a movement for disaster relief and political recognition of a problem in the way that "Hamilton" has. As Luis Miranda explained, his son had already spared $ 43 million in disaster relief for the Spanish Federation, a non-profit group aimed at strengthening the Latino institutions. To devote an entire run to address the crisis increases efforts in a way that is not felt in commercial theater.

"He spearheads the political agenda challenges in Puerto Rico more effectively than anyone else does," Roberto Prats, a former senator and head of the Democratic Party here, said about Miranda.

Or, like Brad Dean, executive director of Discover Puerto Rico, says the island's non-profit tourism organization: "The great opportunity is to turn Lin-Manuel's gift into an influence far beyond the visit's three weeks."

Some Residents Repent the local government's backward reversal for "Hamilton": When a plan fell through at the last minute to lead production in a historic theater on the Campus of Luis Miranda's alma mater, the University of Puerto Rico, the government immediately cleared a way to move "Hamilton" to the Centro de Bellas Artes. It left the university in the steepness, as the renovations to its theater – with the help of a million donation donation from Mirandas – have not been completed.

"We haven't seen any support from any administration except now for" Hamilton, "says Aida Belén Rivera-Ruiz, a UPR professor." I would like to see them flourish with support for local productions. "

Still Miranda's efforts are widely acclaimed in the fierce campaign to get the island back on its feet. Hurricane Maria killed nearly 3,000 Puerto Rican and left widespread damage, both for property and psychics, last year about 100,000 residents went to the US mainland, according to Edwin Meléndez, Head of the Center for Puerto Rico Studies at Hunter College in New York, and the talent drain hits the artistic and professional classes hardly.

The Island's Lasting Tax Disaster – a $ 70 billion debt burden that led to being introduced by the congress of a board, here called "junta" to put the edge on public spending – has only exacerbated the feeling of ongoing emergency.

"How can n you get a recovery when your tax base disappears through the day? "Meléndez said. "It's important," he added to the spotlight "Hamilton" puts on the island, "because the rebuilding of Puerto Rico has not started yet. The major reconstruction funding is pulling down very slowly."

A shrine to a hometown hero

About There is one thing Mirandas knows how to do today, there is attention to the command. Half an hour's drive from San Juan, along the island's northern coast, is Vega Alta, the home town of the extended Miranda family, which has become a tourist destination for Lin-Manuel fans. On a cute little plaza, or "placita" on Luis Muñoz Rivera Street, Miranda's has established a kind of homespun Lin-Manuel shrine. An outdoor dining area, some small eateries, a souvenir shop and a "Museo Miranda" (Miranda Museum) host visitors who sip smoothies while watching a giant mosaic portrait of Lin-Manuel, posed as a revolutionary hero. In the museum, several of his entertainment awards are shown, along with other portraits.

Tourists and "Hamilton" fans Dave and Kathy Mullen from Madison, Wis., Suffer for a suicide in front of a mural honoring Lin Manuel Manuel in the Miranda family Purto-Rican hometown of Vega Alta. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo / For the Washington Post)

"It grew out of being a New Yorker and lived in small spaces," said Luis Miranda with a laugh during a morning interview in the lobby of Luis A. Ferré's auditorium at Centro the Bellas Artes in San Juan, as the "Hamilton" casting repeated inside. "We had space in Puerto Rico, why not store it in a certain way?"

Back in Vega Alta, while Luiss's brother Elvin and sister Yamila chatted up visitors and talked to sellers, a tour group 20 or so strong sat at the table in the museum, lunch and peeking at memorabilia. "I just loved his talent – I think he's a unique guy," said Roxene Pierce, a senior Iowa City high school teacher who had bought a travel package that included stops in Vega Alta and a Bacardi room distillery, as well as a ticket to "Hamilton . "

Dave and Kathy Mullen, from Madison, Wis. She urges seniors to reduce themselves – drove out to Vega Alta on their own. They said their trip to Puerto Rico was caused by a love of "Hamilton" and a desire to put their tourist dollars to work in a destination that needed help. "It's very hard not to react positively to Lin," Dave Mullen said.

You knew again and again to talk to visitors – 90 percent of the tourists are from the mainland – that people have really responded to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his family in a deep personal way.

"I had plans to come to Puerto Rico," Pierce explained, "because [the Mirandas] asked us to come to Puerto Rico."

The power of knowledge [19659028] It is difficult to calculate the extent of Lin-Manuel Miranda fame: Puerto Ricans says that even here his fame is still concentrated in cosmopolitan circles rather than on the spectrum of the desert society. Still, his visibility continues to increase with the view of the TV actors and his role in the new Disney movie "Mary Poppins Returns", and his intention seems to be to exploit the popular appeal for important reasons, such as his ban on cultural diplomacy and humanitarian aid. .

At the packed press conference on Friday night, the Portuguese reporters raised the questions posed to political candidates: What did he think about the debt problem? How about crime? How did he feel about the Trump Administration's threat of taking money from Puerto Rican disaster relief to pay for the wall? Miranda, who still cleared herself from the feelings of doing – under a number called "Hurricane," he said he had difficulty maintaining his friend – seemed a little overwhelmed by everything.

"Lin has always been extremely careful about choosing his political causes," says Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public Theater in New York where "Hamilton" had its world premiere in February 2015. "He has taken Puerto Rico's security -, health and social policy as a central political policy for his own. "According to Eustis, Lin-Manuel and his politically dangerous father" believe it is a thing that has no disadvantage. "

Like other characters that are central to "Hamilton's" development – from lead producer Jeffrey Seller, to Ron Chernow, whose biography of Hamilton Miranda based the musical, to the actors Leslie Odom Jr., Anthony Ramos and Jasmine Cephas Jones from the original cast – Eustis came to San Juan to witness this historical musical stage. Questlove and Shonda Rhimes were also there on Friday night; Oprah Winfrey will soon be on the road; Jimmy Fallon will broadcast from San Juan next week; and a congressional delegation with home speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will also arrive.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton's power to awaken curiosity and force attention four years after the show came to be a phenomenon that is unmatched in the annals of Broadway.

"If you can marry politics, government and art" Hamilton "needs the perfect scenario for it to happen," Prats says, planning to run for governor in 2020. Prats sees a lot to enjoy and learn off in a story of a Caribbean-born immigrant that helps the colonies to financially independent.

"I'll quote a line from the show," he said. "" Lift a glass to our four; Tomorrow there will be more of us. "We lift a glass to Lin-Manuel and hope tomorrow will be more of him."

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