"Thanks Puerto Rico": Lin-Manuel Miranda plays "Hamilton" in his beloved island


January 11, 2019, 22:20 GMT

By Gabe Gutierrez, Jason Calabretta and Nicole Acevedo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Nearly 16 months after the passage of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the island has welcomed one of her favorite sons for a series of much-awaited benefit benefits from the show that took Broadway by storm.

"Thank you Puerto Rico!" The creator and star of "Hamilton," Lin-Manuel Miranda, said with emotion, after a three hour performance on the island where his father had grown up and spent summers as a child. He waved a Puerto Rican flag from the stage and said at a press conference after the show that Puerto Ricans were "the most resilient people in the world".

"Name any other city in the world that would survive so long without electricity and without, you know, the resources that any other American city would get as a result of a hurricane," Miranda said. "I am impressed by the people of Puerto Rico."

Miranda was cheered for a minute when he came on stage to resume his leading role in the role of Alexander Hamilton in the iconic musical. This is the first time in more than two years that Miranda has played the role of the Founding Father after retiring to work on other projects.

The Centro de Bellas Artes Theater in Santurce where Lin-Manuel Miranda brings his musical "Hamilton" to Puerto Rico, starting on January 11th. Jason Calabretta / NBC News

At the end of the show, Miranda and his father, Luis Miranda – who grew up on the island – spoke to the public, thanking the residents of the town of Vega Alta, a town where young Miranda spent his summer. .

Renowned restaurateur and chef José Andrés, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize largely for his work that feeds islanders after the devastating storm, told NBC News that the show had a particular resonance for the island.

"It certainly sends a big message, a great lighthouse to say that Puerto Rico is open, Puerto Rico is a place that the United States must continue to support," he said.

"Do you want to help Puerto Rico?" Asked José Andrés, "then come."

Puerto Rican fans like Vanessa Viera and her son Antonio González have been waiting for this day since November. They are two Puerto Ricans who were able to get tickets to see Miranda on stage.

"My son plays the songs in the car so I can learn them too. But I already know most of them, "Viera told NBC News in Spanish.

The award-winning Broadway musical has broken expectations since its premiere in 2015 and this opportunity is no different. The show is expected to storm Puerto Rico after islanders have spent more than a year recovering from the damage caused by the hurricane and a network. paralyzing electric.

"Hamilton" is being held for three weeks in San Juan to raise funds for the Flamboyant Arts Fund, a grant program created by Miranda and her family to promote the arts on the island. Some tickets were distributed to residents of Puerto Rico for $ 10 in a lottery, but the most expensive VIP tickets are sold for $ 5,000.

The room where it's going?

The cast played at Centro De Bellas Artes in Santurce. The place was changed just a few weeks ago by the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), where it was feared that the police would be able to provide adequate security since it was found on a university campus.

The success of the musical is well known, but as we saw Friday night, this performance is a particularly moving performance for Miranda. The founding father, Alexander Hamilton, left the Caribbean island, Nevis, after being devastated by a hurricane – referenced in one of the titles of the musical "Hurricane".

His words will surely be very poignant this time: "In the eye of a hurricane, there is calm … I did not drown. I could not seem to die. "

The actor Leslie Odom, Jr., the first actor to play the important role of Aaron Burr in the musical – Hamilton has died as a result of a duel with Burr – his Eastman rendered on the island as a spectator. He said that he thought the show would bring "a lot of dough" to Puerto Rico.

"You know Lin and what this island has meant for him and his family," he said. "I'm just happy to be here to support him."

The resilience of Puerto Rico has been tested since Maria. Blowing winds of 155 km / h, the hurricane crossed the mountainous island. Its fragile infrastructure could not cope with a fierce storm or floods that flooded many communities.

A few months later, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would admit that it was under-prepared in an internal report. The record of the storm would be a highly controversial statistic – used by critics of the Trump administration as evidence of an anemic federal response.

Gabe Gutierrez and Jason Calabretta have been reported in Puerto Rico and Nicole Acevedo in New York.