Behind the scenes: Making of "Hamilton" in Puerto Rico

"Hamilton": Behind the Puerto Rico production
"Hamilton": Behind the Puerto Rico production... 06:06

San Juan, Puerto Rico – What a moment: 21 seconds of applause for Lin-Manuel Miranda as he took the stage for the final dress rehearsal of "Hamilton" Thursday night. When the rehearsal ended, he yelled two words: "Puerto Rico!"

The 38-year-old and the cast are performing in San Juan at the Centro de Bellas Artes, part of a three-week run to raise money and awareness for the U.S. territory after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. Miranda will play the role he developed, Alexander Hamilton.

Rick Negron is the only cast member in the production who was born in Puerto Rico – two blocks, he said, from the theater. He plays King George III. Negron was just the right person to take CBS News correspondent David Begnaud behind the scenes.

"I haven't lived here in 30 years," Negron said, choking up with emotion. "I've been-- you know, doing my dreams in New York, L.A. And just to come home and have family here, and see how the island has gone through an amazing transformation."

It wasn't the first choice. The musical was supposed to be put on at the University of Puerto Rico, the alma mater of Luis Miranda, who is Lin-Manuel's father.

"The island and particularly the university have gone through so much turmoil, change, economic austerity that I figure let's put them on the map," Luis Miranda said.
But after a million dollars was spent to repair the university theater, a local labor union sent a warning. "The letter ended up saying… there are real problems at the University of Puerto Rico. And we want to advise… bad things, protests can happen around your production," Luis said.

"And you're thinking, I don't know if I can provide security for everybody who's coming to see the musical," Begnaud said.

"Yeah. You know, we have 1,700 people inside that theater," Luis said. "We have 150 cast and crew including my son."

Miranda on Puerto Rico: "Forgive the debt" 07:27

"What do you want this production on the island to mean to the island?" Begnaud asked.

"Puerto Rico is ready… that if this can happen, tons of other things can happen. Congress can give Puerto Rico the aid it needs," Luis said.

Back at the theater with Negron, he introduced us to Vincent Hooper from Austin, Texas. Aside from his dance moves, he covers six roles in the musical and "Hamilton" is his first major production.

"Being a young black man, there are only so many shows, I think, that really give you the chance to stretch yourself this much, and to dig in this much," Hooper said.

Some of the tickets for the performance sold for $5,000. They wanted wealthy people to come to the island. But they also kept 10,000 tickets, selling them for $10 a piece.

Some big names are expected to attend the performance, including Jimmy Buffett, Shonda Rhimes, and Oprah WInfrey. 

Message brings Lin-Manuel Miranda to tears 03:21