"Hamilton" cast members answer students' questions

60 Minutes was in the Richard Rodgers Theatre in May when Lin-Manuel Miranda, Christopher Jackson, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs of "Hamilton" spoke to high school students

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After Sunday's Tonys, tickets for "Hamilton" may be hard to come by, but if you're an 11th grader in New York City's public school system, there's hope.

That's because the show, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, is selling $10 tickets to some 20,000 New York City students in order to educate them about the country's founding fathers and this period of American history.

On a Wednesday in May, students filled the theater to see a matinee performance, but beforehand got a chance to ask the "Hamilton" cast questions, including one posed to the show's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda about the role of diversity on Broadway. 60 Minutes cameras were there to record the event.

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Below is a script of the 60 Minutes Overtime video:

Lin-Manuel Miranda: We're going to bring our whole cast on stage to talk to y'all. We have questions from you. And to moderate is the guy who puts the whole thing together. He's the reason you get to see the show; he's the reason the show works; and he's the director of our show. Please give it up for Tony-nominee Thomas Kail.

Thomas Kail: Chris Jackson -- The Facing History School has a question about when Lin first talked to you about the idea of playing George Washington. What were those initial thoughts?

Christopher Jackson: Watching Lin write something that I would never have imagined that anyone could have come up with, such an interesting telling of any story, let alone about one of our founding fathers, and then putting me in a position to play George Washington in the same year that we got our first black president was kind of crazy to me.

George Washington: Let me tell you what I wish I'd known...

Christopher Jackson: Wearing the costume that I get to wear every day and have an interaction with folks like you guys reminds me of how amazing history can be when you inject a little life and a little blood into it, and realize that all of the people -- the characters that we get to portray every day -- they were real people.

Thomas Kail: A new friend just joined us, this is Renée Goldsberry who plays Angelica Schuyler, down at the end.

Cast: Work! Work!

Angelica Schuyler: Angelica!

Cast: Work! Work!

Eliza Schuyler: Eliza!

Peggy Schuyler: And Peggy.

Renée Elise Goldsberry: When I was in high school, I already knew that I wanted to sing somehow. I think I wanted to be Whitney Houston. I was taught to not think that I couldn't do anything I wanted to do. Fortunately, I was taught that if I showed up and tried, that was enough. So I believe in showing up, even if you're afraid. I believe in showing up prepared, even if you're afraid.

Thomas Jefferson: So what'd I miss? What did I miss?

Daveed Diggs: Daveed Diggs, I play Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Kail: Can you talk about some of your early days of performing, and when you started?

Daveed Diggs: When I found performing, I was in fourth grade, and my fourth grade teacher used to make the whole class memorize and recite poems. And the whole class did the same poem every week, and it was super boring. And I got sick of that, so I decided I'm going to act out this poem. So I did it. I got up, and everybody laughed when I wanted them to laugh. And it was so -- it was the only time I had ever really felt powerful in a group of people. I'm still just as nervous as I was when I was nine years old or whatever, but I am constantly given reasons to be in a room because I have continued to pursue these things. So if that works for you, you should do it.

Thomas Kail: Thank you, sir. Lin, this a question from Broome Street Academy.

Lin-Manuel Miranda: Hi Broome Street.

Thomas Kail: It's a question about culture representation, and diversity on Broadway.

Lin-Manuel Miranda: When it comes to diversity on Broadway, it's a prerequisite for what I do. I'm a Puerto Rican dude who writes musicals. If there isn't diversity, I don't get to go, or you don't get to go. It is required, and I realized sort of early on, I loved musicals growing up. I loved hip hop, I loved Latin music, and I loved musicals. And I knew from what existed in the world, I didn't dance well enough to play Bernardo in "West Side Story," and I didn't sing well enough to play the "Man of La Mancha," and that's it for Latin dudes. Like, that's kind of all you get. So I started writing my first show, "In the Heights," in college because I wanted to write the kind of roles that I would one day get a chance to play. I didn't write a role for myself; that happened later. But I just wanted to write a lot of roles for Latinos, because "West Side Story" was kind of all we had, and [I was] very fortunate -- sort of for the success of that show. With this show, it was really different. I fell in love with Hamilton, and when I got to the part in the book where he writes an essay, and the essay is so good it gets him a scholarship and off the island, I said, "That's hip hop." That's the hip hop story, isn't it? Go point at your favorite rapper, and it's someone who writes about their struggles so well that they transcend their circumstances. That's the story of hip hop to me. And all my favorite rappers did some version of that and I saw Hamilton doing it in front of me. So I pictured this as a hip hop album first. I thought, "Cool, I'm going to get rappers to play the founding fathers, and I'm going to make an album. I'm not going to worry about it being a piece of theatre, I'm just going to kind of write the greatest hits of Hamilton's life." And then as I'm reading the book, I was never picturing the literal founding fathers. I know what they look like, you know what they look like, they're in your wallet. What I was picturing was, "Who is the hip hop, R&B equivalent of this founding father we think we know?" I want to eliminate any distance between the story that happened 200 some odd years ago, and this audience of today. And I think by using the music of today, and using a set of actors that looks like our country, we eliminate that distance and we see the whole story with a set of fresh eyes. So I think it just helps.

Cast: Not throwing away my shot!


For more information on the Hamilton Education Program, go to http://www.gilderlehrman.org/hamilton

Editor's note: Lin-Manuel Miranda will be leaving "Hamilton" this summer to work on other projects.

The video above was produced by Sarah Shafer Prediger, Nichole Marks and Rebecca Chertok, and edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.