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“EduHam” Brings “Hamilton” Experience to Students Across Utah

Students see hit musical for just $10 through program sponsored by Zions Bank

May 9, 2018

Enthusiastic groups from 39 high schools spanning the state of Utah experienced an all-student matinee performance of “Hamilton” at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City on May 4. By some estimates, 60 percent of the attendees from Title 1 schools had never seen a live professional theater performance.

 

The opportunity came after students spent several weeks in their classrooms studying American history through a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers. The “Hamilton” Education Program, nicknamed “EduHam,” was created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to inspire students. “Hamilton” producers made tickets for this educational partnership available for $70, $60 which was subsidized by Zions Bank and the State of Utah.  For each student, tickets cost just $10 — a Hamilton.

“At first I didn’t understand this part of history, but now I love history a lot,” said Dachuneeh Martin, a ninth-grade student from Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek within the Navajo Nation. “Learning about the Boston Tea Party and the U.S. breaking away from England shows how much you can fight for your rights to freedom.”

Not Throwing Away Their Shot on Stage

For their final EduHam projects, students created original performance pieces about a chapter of revolutionary history. Finalists from various schools then performed their works —songs, rap, poetry, and monologues — on the Eccles Theater stage in front of their peers before seeing “Hamilton.”  

Granger High students Alton Phonepraseuth, Ivan Padilla and Baily Beacham performed a rap about the Boston Massacre told in part through the voice of former slave Crispus Attucks, the first to be killed in the uprising: “If this means that I can be free/ Then let it be/ It’s not just about me/ Brothers and sisters and fathers and daughters/ Uncles and aunties and sons and mothers.”

Petrona Lucas, an eleventh-grade student at East High School in Salt Lake City, was relieved not to have been nervous during her performance about Abigail Adams, which quoted a line from Adams’ letter to Thomas Jefferson: “No eye but my own have seen what has passed.”

In “The Room Where it Happens” with Cast Members

Following the student performances, 14 cast members engaged in a question-and-answer session with the crowd. When asked about historical research they did for their roles, Marcus Choi, who played George Washington, said, “Reading George Washington’s journal has affected my performance and given me perspective.”  He went on to describe the role as “the most challenging, most technical, dense-material show I’ve ever been a part of.”

Each participating cast member answered the question about what advice they would offer to their younger selves. Ta’Rea Campbell, who plays Angelica Schuyler, confided, “I’d say this to my younger self: it gets so much better. It does. Trust me.” Kylee Scatliffe, who plays Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, told the students: “You are the only version of yourself that exists, and that’s what makes you special. You are perfect as you are.”

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