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Lin-Manuel Miranda performs with Obama: How his musical made Alexander Hamilton popular

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(Read caption) Lin-Manuel Miranda performs at the White House

“Hamilton” writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda recently brought his hit show to the White House, along with other cast members. Part of that visit included Mr. Miranda rapping in the Rose Garden.

The segment involves President Barack Obama holding cards that have patriotic phrases ranging from “the Federalist papers” to “Sunny and Bo” (the Obamas’ pet dogs). Miranda used the cards as inspiration for his rapping (and stated at the end of the video, “I did not see those words prior.”)

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The president obviously knows a hit when he sees one happen – President Obama ends the video by saying, “You think that’s going viral? That’s going viral.” (And yes, the video on the White House Facebook page currently has more than 8 million views.)

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Miranda’s musical “Hamilton,” which debuted on Broadway this past August, uses musical styles including rap and hip-hop to tell the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The show has gotten superlative reviews, and the pricey tickets are extremely hard to get.

In addition to the show itself becoming popular, Miranda’s production also seems to have spurred a new interest in Hamilton himself. Miranda has stated that he based the show on the 2005 biography “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow

In the wake of the show's success, Mr. Chernow’s book is popping up on bestseller lists, currently ranking at number four on the IndieBound trade paperback nonfiction bestseller list, placing above such books as “On the Move” by Oliver Sacks and “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler. 

The musical teaches audience members not only about Hamilton but about his contemporaries, including Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, George Washington, and the Marquis de Lafayette. 

Miranda makes this history more accessible to many who otherwise wouldn’t be interested. “All of the songs perform the magic trick of making drama (or, sometimes, comedy) out of heavy-going political and bureaucratic history,” wrote Jody Rosen for The New York Times Style Magazine.

Jill Serjeant of Reuters notes that the show is “hailed as transforming both theater and the way Americans think about 18th century history.” George Cox, founder of the group Alexander Hamilton Scholars, and Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society president Rand Scholet both told her they have seen more interest in their organizations since the musical came on the scene.