These LA students hit the ‘Hamilton’ stage to perform their own work – Daily News

Some glorified Alexander Hamilton in freestyle rap verses and some performed folk songs about the American Revolution. Others, still, dramatized critical moments from the Founding Era – and all of it happened on a stage set for “Hamilton.”

About 2,600 public school juniors and their teachers from 38 schools filed into the Hollywood Pantages Theatre on Thursday, Oct. 12 for L.A.’s first #EduHam program.

This first of three all-student experiences, which includes a showcase of original American history-inspired works, “Hamilton” cast Q&A, and a matinee performance of the show, is an extension of the innovative educational program that launched in New York last year.

How it works is that participating Title 1 schools integrate Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Era into their American history curriculum. Instead of writing essays, students create raps, poems, scenes, and monologues based on their classroom studies and research that they then perform.

A trio from Grover Cleveland Charter High School in Reseda brought slick choreography to their pop song about Paul Cuffee, a wealthy black Quaker abololitionist who founded a racially integrated school and helped colonize Sierra Leone.

Emely Felix, a 16-year-old from Daniel Pearl Journalism and Communications Magnet High School in Lake Balboa, recited her original poem about Abigail Adams because “not many people know about her.

“I wanted to have an opportunity to let people know what she did and the impact that she had,” she said, referencing Adams’ opposition to slavery and advocacy of women’s rights.

J’aira Brown-Simmons of Lawndale High School brought down the house with her emotional “Bill of Rights slave monologue” during which she asked, “Where is my freedom? Where is my Bill of Rights?”

Emcee Ruben Carbajal, the 24-year-old Westchester native who plays the dual roles of John Laurens (Alexander Hamilton’s BFF) and Philip Hamilton (Hamilton’s son) in the touring production, was taken aback.

“How crazy those same issues are still presenting themselves today,” said Carbajal, sporting a backward baseball hat and white Dodger’s jersey with Clayton Kershaw’s No. 22 on the back. “It was touching, but it was also heartbreaking.”

“Without the lift of this show and the excitement of the music, teachers are telling us they couldn’t get these kids to open up in the way that they have,” said James G. Basker, president of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, a partner of #EduHam. “We feel like there’s a magic chemistry in this curriculum and in what this show has made possible thanks to the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda. He’s been called the Shakespeare of America, and I think that’s right.

“Shakespeare took the great staid histories and made them unbelievably original, powerful popular culture,” Basker says. “We don’t remember the historical Macbeth, but we do know Macbeth as Shakespeare gave him life. And now Lin has reimagined the Founding Era in a way where these kids are in it and bringing it into their lives.”

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