Hamilton Tonys cast performs “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” (VIDEO).

Watch the Hamilton Cast’s Explosive Tonys Performance

Watch the Hamilton Cast’s Explosive Tonys Performance

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
June 12 2016 11:14 PM

Watch the Hamilton Cast’s Explosive Tonys Performance, With an Introduction by the Obamas

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Lin-Manuel Miranda of 'Hamilton' performs onstage during the 70th Annual Tony Awards at The Beacon Theatre on June 12, 2016.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Hamilton was, of course, the most hotly anticipated performance of the Tony Awards, and the number got an unexpected, but suitably high-profile, introduction—from none other than the president and First Lady. In a pre-taped video, the Obamas recall watching a visibly nervous Lin-Manuel Miranda perform an early rendition of “Alexander Hamilton” back in 2009 at the White House Poetry Jam, never guessing it would become the phenomenon it is today: “We all laughed, but who’s laughing now?” They went on to praise Hamilton for acting as a civics lesson that has taught young people about “the miracle that is America.”

Rapper Common appeared to call the musical “one of the greatest pieces of art ever made.” And then the cast performed, transitioning from the end of “History Has Its Eyes on You” into the explosive number “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” performed sans-muskets, out of respect for the events in Orlando.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda mimes holding a gun. The ensemble performed without their usual prop muskets to respect the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

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The show's choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler, explained the decision to remove the prop guns to Playbill: “I don’t know if people have noticed this, but the ending of ‘Battle of Yorktown’ is the first time the American forces ever put guns in their hands. [...] The moment of putting them down is actually one of my favorite moments in the show. That’s America to me. That’s the American Revolution. That’s our America today. It’s not taking up arms; it’s wanting to put them down so that things can be right.”