June 16, 2019

Lin-Manuel Miranda Brings ‘Hamilton’ to a Troubled but Appreciative Puerto Rico

Lin-Manuel Miranda Brings ‘Hamilton’ to a Troubled but Appreciative Puerto Rico

There was one small rally outside the show’s opening Friday night: About a dozen advocates of statehood for Puerto Rico gathered behind a banner, holding signs and shouting slogans. The protesters said they had no issues with “Hamilton” but were using the occasion to call attention to their concerns.

The production is a fund-raiser, expected to generate about $15 million for the Flamboyan Arts Fund, a Miranda family effort to support Puerto Rican artists. The money is being raised in part through the sale of several thousand tickets for $5,000 each; about a quarter of all the tickets are being sold for $10 each.

At the Friday night opening, there were a few boldfaced names from the mainland, including the television producer Shonda Rhimes, the musician Questlove and the television host Jimmy Fallon; a number of Puerto Rican celebrities, including the singer Lucecita Benítez, the comedian Raymond Arrieta, and the former Miss Universe Denise Quiñones; and the Spanish chef José Andrés, who was active in relief efforts here after the 2017 hurricane.

There were also “Hamilton” alumni, including Leslie Odom Jr., who won a Tony as the original Aaron Burr, and a lot of people who played some part in the creation of the show, including Ron Chernow, the historian whose biography inspired it.

There were also a lot of people who just wanted to see “Hamilton.”

“The fact that Lin-Manuel is Puerto Rican makes us all here so proud,” said Melissa González, a lawyer who got tickets just two days ago. She attended with her husband, Carlos Surillo, also a lawyer, who cited the importance of celebrities to Puerto Rico’s cause. “Figures like Roberto Clemente, Raul Juliá and now Lin-Manuel have moved Puerto Rico forward,” he said.

Some patrons came from considerably further away. Paul McQue, who is from Scotland, said he had already seen “Hamilton” once on Broadway, three times in Chicago and nine times in London, but had not yet seen Mr. Miranda play the lead role, so he came to San Juan.

After the show there was a party at Popular Center, a banking tower in San Juan’s financial district. There were typical Puerto Rican foods — gandules (pigeon peas), morcilla (blood sausage), trifongo (a mash of fried green and yellow plantain with yuca) and tembleque (coconut pudding) — and a covers band (“Despacito,” of course, as well as “Billie Jean”).

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