I know I’ve been subtle about it (har, har) but if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that I’m a big fan of Hamilton, both the musical and the man whose life inspired it. January 11th was Alexander Hamilton’s birthday (or it might be more accurate to call it the anniversary of his birth), while January 16th was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s birthday (he being the one who wrote the play and originated the role of Hamilton).
So, if I had been really organized, I would have done a whole week-long thing of Hamilton-related posts pertaining to the musical. But I’m not really organized, unfortunately; plus, I still have two jobs. Maybe I’ll do that later, or maybe I’ll do that next year.
In any case, I can’t help but notice that a lot of (past) Hamilton cast members also have connections to Sesame Street, so I thought I’d explore that today.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton):
In 2009, Lin played Freddie Flapman, a real estate agent who tries to convince Big Bird to move away from Sesame Street and buy property in a variety of different habitats in a street story that has basically the exact same plot as the first and more excellent Sesame Street movie, Follow that Bird, with Freddie Flapman as the Miss Finch analogue but with arguably more selfish motives.
Lin has also written songs for Sesame Street, because he is awesome. He also sang the theme song to “Murray Has a Little Lamb”:
Speaking of little lambs, in 2011 he voiced a lamb (which he humorously dubbed “Lamb-Manuel”) in the song “Musica,” which he also co-wrote:
No word on who did the puppeteering. Lamb-Manuel doesn’t even have a dedicated Muppet Wiki page. Outrage! Let’s start a petition to get Lamb-Manuel the recognition he deserves! (Note: I am kidding. Please don’t start a petition.)
Chris Jackson (George Washington):
George Washington is probably my favorite character in Hamilton; he gets some of the best songs, and Chris Jackson brings some magnificent gravitas to the role. In 2016, he sang “Try a Little Kindness” with the Sesame Street Muppets on their float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade; they later recorded a music video of the song:
Also in 2016, Elmo visited the Richard Rodgers Theatre to sing “The Story of Tonight,” with Chris, which isn’t one of the songs he sings in the musical, but who cares? Even though I don’t particularly like Elmo, I still think this is pretty much the greatest thing ever. (“What glory?” “Smiles and happiness and everybody being awesome!” “Sounds good!”) I raise a glass of apple juice to Chris Jackson and Elmo:
Chris Jackson also writes music, which I didn’t realize. He wrote the music to “I Love My Hair,” with lyrics by Joey Mazzarino:
Leslie Odom, Jr. (Aaron Burr):
I often think that Hamilton’s Aaron Burr is similar to Salieri in Amadeus. Lin-Manuel Miranda gives a complexity to Burr’s character that the historical Burr arguably lacked. And Leslie Odom, Jr. brings a nuance to the role, as well as amazing, soaring vocals. He may well be the best singer in the entire cast.
Like Chris Jackson, Leslie Odom, Jr. also performed with the Sesame Street Muppets in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade (sorry I couldn’t find a video with better quality):
So is this a tradition now? The Sesame Street cast plus one member of the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton perform a song together in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year? Because I’m totally fine with that.
Daveed Diggs (Marquis de LaFayette/Thomas Jefferson):
The almost-annoyingly talented Daveed Diggs has taken on the role of Mr. Noodle’s brother, Mr. Noodle for several years now, or at least that’s what the Muppet Wiki informs me (I purposely steer clear of “Elmo’s World”, so I didn’t know that otherwise). He also performed a version of “Rubber Duckie” with an added rap bridge section:
(I was going to post it for National Rubber Duckie Day, but then I realized that it featured Barkhurst!Ernie singing the last stanza, and I was like, “Thanks, but no thanks.”)
So the cast of Hamilton has connections to Sesame Street, but does Sesame Street have connections to Alexander Hamilton? Perhaps. Consider this sketch in which the Sesame Street Muppets recreate the “election” (so to speak) of our national bird:
Elmo and Oscar play unnamed Founding Fathers. Could it be that one of them is supposed to represent Alexander Hamilton? Hard to say; neither of them really fits his character. Hamilton was meticulous in his appearance; he would never go out in public as sloppy and unkempt as Oscar is. Similarly, he was sensitive about his reputation and wouldn’t want to appear as uninformed as Elmo seems to be here…unless he was doing it for rhetorical effect.
Finally, as a culmination of my article on when Hamilton and Sesame Street collide, here is a video of Abby Cadabby singing “Satisfied.” She doesn’t make it to the end, but she’s apparently doing it all from memory, which is quite impressive. “I love Hamilton!” Abby sighs at the end of her song:
I love Hamilton and Sesame Street.
2 thoughts on “Sesame Sunday: ‘Hamilton’ on Sesame Street”
Wow, so much to digest here. I’m a huge fan of Musicals, having been in several myself, and feel sad not to have seen ‘Hamilton’, for distance from Broadway makes it difficult and obviously we only get what they share online. I’m not surprised at the connection to Sesame Street. I have found there are puppeteers who want to have their say, but it’s not easy…..because they represent characters who are for children. What an interesting way to support one another as on a parade float in the Macy’s day parade, and so on.
I haven’t actually seen Hamilton either; I know it primarily from the original cast recording. I am hopeful that, as it goes on tour, it will come to Sioux Falls or a nearby venue so that I can see it.