Over the next two months, the Overture Center is planning to selectively display historical documents related to Alexander Hamilton in conjunction with the musical’s arrival in Madison.
Beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 19, the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” will make its Madison debut. The musical, which premiered in New York in 2015, features many moments throughout early United States history, while also highlighting some of the documents that shaped the country.
These documents, which are being provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society, consist of an assortment of original letters, books and pamphlets written by Hamilton and his contemporaries, such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Aaron Burr.
Librarian Cynthia Bachhuber, who is in charge of the display, described the documents as the equivalent of “18th-century Twitter” — they were an essential forum for public discourse in the United States.
According to Bachhuber, the documents retrospectively allow for a greater understanding of the Founding Fathers’ perspectives.
“The idea is to give theatergoers the experience of seeing the real stuff and show that the musical is in the spirit of Hamilton as it tells a story,” Bachhuber said. “This exhibit will help display actual historical artifacts.”
Noticeably, many of the documents included in the display are prominently mentioned in the musical, with the most recognizable example being the “Reynolds Pamphlet,” which has an entire song of the same name dedicated to it in the show.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer and composer of the musical, performed the very first rap song behind “Hamilton” at the White House in 2009, and the musical has since extended its production across the United States and worldwide.
Bachhuber also noted that she hopes the materials will spark public interest in historical events and encourage more people to visit the Wisconsin Historical Society.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity to bring our stuff out, so people could see the kind of things we have,” Bachhuber added. “[These documents will] maybe let folks know that we’re here and show that we have this material and that we love to share this kind of history.”
The display itself will be present at the overture center on Nov. 24 during the “Hamilton” matinee, as well as on Dec. 6.