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Behind the Broadway smash "Hamilton"

Why is a musical about Alexander Hamilton drawing world leaders and movie stars? 60 Minutes finds out

President Obama came. His wife and children saw it, too. So did Vice President Biden and his predecessor, Dick Cheney. Beyonce and Jay-Z took it in, as did Susan Sarandon and Meryl Streep -- to name but a few. So what's the fuss about on Broadway that's attracting the A-listers and selling out each night? It's a musical about the man on the U.S. $10 bill. But its creative approach is creating a sensation and the show is smashing box-office records. Charlie Rose goes behind the curtain to report on "Hamilton," an unorthodox treatment of the story of America's first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Rose's report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda and Charlie Rose
CBS News

Rose speaks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of "Hamilton," to try and explain its success. "I think the secret sauce is...I can't believe this story is true. It's such an improbable and amazing story," says Miranda, who in addition to writing the lyrics and script, also wrote the music and stars in the show as Hamilton.

"I say, 'Hip Hop, Alexander Hamilton,' and everyone laughs. And then, by the end, they're not laughing. Because they're in it...they've been sucked into the story, just like I got sucked into the story."

The show uses a combination of hip-hop and rap along with popular music to portray Hamilton's life, including his duel with Aaron Burr and his rivalry with Thomas Jefferson -- all sung and danced by a diverse cast. For Miranda, Hamilton's incredible story is perfect for such an artistic treatment. He recites the play's opening line -- a huge run-on sentence -- to explain why: "How does a bastard orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished in squalor, comma, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?"

Some were skeptical at first, he says. "I say, 'Hip Hop, Alexander Hamilton,' and everyone laughs," says Miranda. "And then, by the end, they're not laughing. Because they're in it...they've been sucked into the story, just like I got sucked into the story."

Ironically, the show was work-shopped in front of President Obama in 2009. Invited to the White House to perform a song from his only other Broadway musical, "In the Heights," Miranda instead sang his song, "Alexander Hamilton," for the president. What was that like? Asks Rose. "[I was] terrified. Because there's the leader of the free world...His entire family. There's Biden," says Miranda.

Miranda believes his play may be more than merely entertaining to some of those vips who have come to the theater. "When Dick Cheney's sitting in the audience, I think what is he thinking when he hears the lyric, 'History has its eyes on you,' you know? When the president is here, what is he thinking as he sees George Washington say, 'I have to step down the so the country can move on.'"