On Saturday, Lin-Manuel Miranda will be taking the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre one last time. The creator and star of the Broadway smash hit Hamilton is stepping away this weekend, leaving behind his Tony-winning production to pursue other projects, like his recent collaboration with Jennifer Lopez, his upcoming role in the Mary Poppins sequel, and just generally continuing to write like he’s running out of time.
Ahead of Miranda’s final bow as the $10 founding father without a father, now’s the perfect time to revisit one of Miranda’s very first performances of a song from Hamilton — and one of his most prestigious. In May 2009, Miranda was invited to perform in front of President Barack and Michelle Obama at the White House Poetry Jam, where he debuted the song that would eventually become the Hamilton opening number. At the time, Miranda had only conceived the project as a hip-hop mixtape, not a Broadway musical, and when he told the crowd that he felt Alexander Hamilton embodied the spirit of all things hip-hop, they broke into laughter.
“You laugh, but it’s true!” Miranda said. “He was born a penniless orphan in St. Croix of illegitimate birth, became George Washington’s right-hand man, became treasury secretary, caught beef with every other founding father, and all on the strength of his writing. I think he embodies words’ ability to make a difference.”
Accompanied by Alex Lacamoire, who would eventually become the Hamilton musical director and orchestrator, Miranda then launched into a performance of “Alexander Hamilton,” playing the part of Aaron Burr. While the first few lines were met with giggles, by the end, Miranda had the whole crowd on their feet and cheering — including the Obamas.
Since then, the entire cast of Hamilton has performed at the White House, the show has earned 11 Tony Awards, and tickets for Miranda’s final show are selling for $20,000 apiece. And no one’s laughing anymore.
Watch Miranda’s 2009 White House performance below.