“Hamilton’s America” Wows Crowd at United Palace Premiere

Christina Knight | October 19, 2016

The tweeted words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricst and creator, say it best: The PBS premiere of Hamilton’s America at the United Palace theater in Washington Heights on October 17 was thrilling, and the 3,400-seat house was packed — with high school students, young performers, members of New York City nonprofit and community groups, THIRTEEN donors and patrons, and viewers like you! Between the red carpet interviews, the screening of Hamilton’s America and the discussion with Lin-Manuel Miranda, film director Alex Horwitz and Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow moderated by CBS This Morning host Gayle King, it was a night for all to remember.

Presented by Great Performances — an acclaimed performing arts series produced by THIRTEEN — Hamilton’s America tells the story behind the revolutionary musical, and will be televised and streamed nationally on PBS on Friday, October 21 at 9pm ET. Enter to win an official Hamilton’s America poster.

Happy fans of Hamilton the Musical and Great Performances: "Hamilton’s America" at the PBS premiere event on October 17, 2016 at the United Palace theater in Washington Heights, NYC. Photo: WNET

Happy fans of “Hamilton the Musical” and Great Performances: “Hamilton’s America” at the PBS premiere event on October 17, 2016 at the United Palace theater in Washington Heights, NYC. Photo: Joe Sinnott/WNET

A Full Palace for Hamilton

Great Performances: "Hamiltons America: A Documentary Film" PBS premiere at United Palace Theater, October 17, 2016. Photo: Joe Sinnott/WNET

Great Performances: “Hamiltons America: A Documentary Film” PBS premiere at United Palace Theater,
October 17, 2016. Photo: Joe Sinnott/WNET

America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton fought the British Monarchy in the Revolutionary War, but we don’t think he’d mind having Hamilton’s America screened in “a palace,” especially one full of his fellow New Yorkers and just 25 minutes from his former home in Harlem. The documentary’s screening at the United Palace in Washington Heights, an exuberantly ornate theater built in 1930, was attended by constituents of many THIRTEEN community partners — including Ballet Hispanico, Boys & Girls Harbor, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn Museum, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Harvey Milk, Hostos Community College, Hunter College High School, LaGuardia High School, LGBT Center, Museum of Chinese in the Americas, Port Richmond High School, Queens Museum, Riverside Church, Schomburg Center, St. John the Divine, Studio Museum of Harlem, The Apollo Theater, The Door, Tottenville High School, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone and East New York High School/Transit Tech.

Lin-Manuel Miranda in discussion after screening of Great Performances: Hamilton's America at the United Palace Theater

Lin-Manuel Miranda in discussion after screening of Great Performances: Hamilton’s America at the United Palace Theater on October 17. Photo: Joe Sinnott/WNET

Students in attendance from Hunter College High School were particularly proud of Lin-Manuel — the school is his alma mater. In its coverage of the event, Vanity Fair pointed out that school connection, as well as something we here at THIRTEEN are proud of — “Miranda, 36, was once an intern in the education department of Thirteen, Gotham’s PBS affiliate.”

Celebrities in the crowd and at the pre-screening private reception included stage and screen actress Christine Baranski, Fiddler on the Roof star Ben Rappaport, television actors Mariska Hargitay and Nicolas Ashe, and original and current Hamilton cast members, including Christopher Jackson (George Washington), Ariana DeBose, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Thane Jasperson and Seth Stewart among others.

Viewers of all ages showed their appreciation of both Manuel’s and filmmaker Alex Horowitz’s skills with cheers and applause at every opportunity. One of the big laughs early in the film was in a response to a quip by George W. Bush, one of the film’s many interviewees.

We’re All in the Room: Social Media Highlights

Use #HamildocPBS, the official hashtag for the documentary, to find photos, videos and responses to the premiere event, and to participate in the conversation about the film yourself. Here just a few reactions to the premiere night on October 17. To watch the red carpet personalities and hear interviews with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ron Chernow, Alex Horwitz and Hamilton cast members, see the Great Performances Facebook Live, hosted by comedy writer Travon Free.

In this video clip, Lin-Manuel points out the history related to Hamilton, within blocks of the United Palace theater:

Travon Free spoke to Hamilton author Ron Chernow on the red carpet; Chernow has also spoken on Free’s all-Hamilton podcast The Room Where It’s Happening.

Who Brings This Story to All of America?

(l to r) Gayle King, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Horwitz, Ron Chernow in discussion after screening of Great Performances: "Hamilton’s America: A Documentary Film" on October 17 at the United Palace Theater

(l to r) Gayle King, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Horwitz, Ron Chernow in discussion after screening of Great Performances: “Hamilton’s America: A Documentary Film” on October 17 at the United Palace Theater in New York City. Photo: Joe Sinnott/WNET

The amazing story of the founding of the United States, and that of artists who connect that history to our lives today through phenomenal hip-hop lyrics, music, acting and a good dose of humor, will get national exposure on Friday, October 21 at 9pm ET, when Hamilton’s America receives its television premiere on PBS.

The film was made by RadicalMedia, whose team includes Executive Producers Jon Kamen, Dave Sirulnick and Justin Wilkes and Producer Nicole Pusateri; it was directed by filmmaker Alex Horwitz — also a close friend of Lin-Manuel Miranda and his former roommate at Wesleyan University. Presenting this as the kick-off program of the PBS Fall Arts festival is the team at THIRTEEN led by David Horn, Executive Producer, Great Performances. Major corporate funding for the documentary was provided by BNY Mellon — which has roots in the Bank of New York, which Alexander Hamilton himself founded on June 9, 1784.