IN THE SPOT­LIGHT

Hamil­ton’s star repris­ing role in Puerto Rico to raise funds

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - KICKOFF -

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.

AN­DREW LIPOVSKY — NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA AP

This im­age re­leased by NBC shows Lin-Manuel Mi­randa dur­ing an in­ter­view with host Jimmy Fal­lon on “The Tonight Show Star­ring Jimmy Fal­lon,” in New York.

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