Lin-Manuel Miranda has won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for drama, for his musical Hamilton, a hip-hop revisionist biography of the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton. It tells the story of how a disadvantaged orphan colonist or "immigrant" from the British West Indies rises to a leadership position in a United States of America newly liberated from the British yoke.
The play has been celebrated for its diverse cast of people of color. The play is also a liberal historical tale that grapples with the concept of the United States as being a country composed of immigrants, despite the fact that Hamilton himself was a colonist sent to the British crown Province of New York in 1773 to study at Columbia College.
The Broadway production deliberately casts people of color — mostly Black, Latino and Asian — in the roles of the famous slave-holding white colonists. Director Thomas Kail, when asked about the casting choices, said pointedly, “This is a story about America then, told by America now.” The show’s only white lead is England’s King George III. Miranda, a Latino, himself plays a lead character. Last year, the musical was a sold-out success that garnered $60 million in advance on Broadway. This year, it is in the top five grossing Broadway shows.
Hamilton becomes the ninth musical to win the Pulitzer Prize, joining ranks with shows such as Sunday in the Park with George and Rent.