Hamilton's star reprising role in Puerto Rico to raise funds
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Lin-Manuel Miranda is reprising his lead role in the hit musical "Hamilton" on Friday night to start a two-week run in Puerto Rico expected to raise thousands of dollars for artists and cultural groups struggling in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Dozens of fans chatted excitedly outside the show's venue in San Juan as they waited in line to pick up tickets that ranged from $10 to $5,000.
Among them was Yolanda Hernandez, a nurse from the northwest coastal town of Aguadilla who drove nearly two hours to the island's capital for the show.
"He's a Boricua and we want to see that Boricua!" she exclaimed, using the popular nickname for a Puerto Rican. "We're waiting to hear that beautiful voice. I've never been to a musical."
Hernandez, like several other Puerto Ricans who waited for the doors to open, snapped up her ticket thanks to a lottery launched by "Hamilton" organizers who are selling 275 tickets for every performance at $10 each.
It is the first time that Miranda has performed the role of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton since his last appearance in the Broadway version in July 2016.
Among those expected to attend the show are several federal lawmakers visiting the U.S. territory for the weekend to learn more about reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Maria, which caused more than $100 billion in damage when it hit on Sept. 20, 2017.
Even people who didn't have tickets showed up at the venue.
"This is a very important moment for Puerto Rico right now," said Vivian Rodriguez, a student who lives in Puerto Rico but is from New York. She noted that Friday is Hamilton's birthday, and she said Puerto Rico has suffered from what she described as its "colonial" status.
"Hamilton" was initially going to be staged at the University of Puerto Rico from Jan. 8 to 27, but producers announced in December that it was moving to the Centro de Bellas Artes following the threat of protests by university employees upset over enrollment changes at the island's largest public university.
The change forced some people on the U.S. mainland to forego their Hamilton tickets because they were unable or could not afford to change their airline tickets to accommodate the show's new dates. Others were upset when they did not hear back from the agency responsible for reassigning new dates for previously purchased tickets.
"It has been such a nightmare for me," said Myla Ruiz, who lives in the northern coastal town of Toa Baja and had gotten tickets for the original opening night.
Her husband is now unable to go because he will be on a work trip, and then she struggled to get a response from the agency selling the tickets. She is now reluctantly attending the show's last night.
"I'm originally from New York, so I'm a huge fan of Broadway," she said. "This to me is huge. There's nothing like Broadway here. When they said this was coming, it's all I've been talking about."
The show also drew the attention of Jimmy Fallon, whose "Tonight Show" will air its Jan. 15 episode from Puerto Rico with Miranda and the new touring cast.
Miranda, composer and creator of "Hamilton," won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for the musical.