SALT LAKE CITY — Luis A. Miranda Jr., father of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, helped to inaugurate the Hamilton Education Program’s Utah debut at a press conference in the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater Oct. 26.
The Hamilton Education Program, known as EduHam, is set to bring the hit Broadway and Tony award-winning musical “Hamilton” along with a special corresponding U.S. history curriculum to 2,300 high school students and teachers from Title I public schools in the Salt Lake City area for the 2017-2018 school year.
The program, developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in collaboration with Miranda, has already rolled out in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles and aims to reach 250,000 rural and low-income students by the end of 2020.
“The Hamilton Education Program is an opportunity to open the doors for theater for kids who otherwise may not have the opportunity to be entertained by live theater,” Miranda said.
The program gives high school students the opportunity to attend a matinee performance of “Hamilton” at the Eccles Theater and participate in a Q&A with the cast following several weeks of studying the lives and works of Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers.
A select group of students will also perform original works such as songs, rap, poetry, scenes and monologues. These works will be based on their EduHam studies.
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox, who hosted the press event, said he is proud of Utah for implementing EduHam, calling it a “magical moment” for the state.
“Today we’re going to talk about changing the lives of thousands of students here in the state of Utah,” Lt. Gov. Cox said. “I’m very grateful, for our inner city kids and for our rural kids, that they’ll have this unique opportunity.”
Miranda said EduHam helps minority students to see that performing onstage is a real possibility for them.
“By Hamilton presenting a diverse crew and cast, it has taught all of us that you could be colorblind when art and talent are onstage,” Miranda told the Deseret News.
Tim Bailey, Gilder Lehrman's director of education and a Utah native, said he approached creating EduHam with three critical elements in mind: teaching students essential content knowledge, teaching critical thinking skills that extend beyond the classroom and engaging students in such a way that they would never forget it.
Seeing this program implimented in Utah's schools is an extra bonus for Bailey.
“For me personally, it’s incredibly exciting when I saw that I got to come home, and to see a program that I got to write come to my home state,” Bailey shared with the Deseret News.
The program helps students relate their own lives to U.S. history, Bailey said, just as the play itself unifies a diverse audience in making meaningful connections to the Founding Fathers’ story.
“It doesn’t matter — liberal, conservative, moderate,” Bailey said, “It seems to speak to everyone on some level.”
Alex Callorina, a high school student from Fairfield, California, performed the monologue he created for EduHam at the press conference, earning a standing ovation from those in attendance. Callorina later told the Deseret News that writing this piece inspired him to start writing his own poetry book.
“It got me to get my creative juices flowing again,” said Callorina, who writes poetry. “For a while, I hadn’t been writing, and to see someone else be creative in that way, I wanted to be creative again.”
“Hamilton” will play at the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater from April 11-May 6, 2018.