The level of pride Puerto Ricans will feel on Jan. 8, when Hamilton opens on the island for a limited engagement, is almost inconceivable.
The musical's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose father emigrated from Puerto Rico to the U.S., is returning to the title role in his masterpiece—surely the most towering artwork of our time—for the three-week run. It's his first time back in the 18th century garb since 2016, when he left the Broadway production a year after it opened.
In the musical's visit to Puerto Rico, the echoes of Hamilton's own story are also uncanny. The brilliant, provocative founding father was born in the Caribbean and orphaned as a child, but managed to write his way to America by describing a hurricane that devastated St. Croix—an essay that convinced the locals to send him to the Colonies to get his education. The rest, as they say, is history.
He never returned—until now, in the wake of another terrible storm. In a way, Hamilton is finally giving back to the Caribbean—245 years after the 1772 storm, and a year after Hurricane Maria. The Hamilton performances in January will raise money for the Flamboyan Arts Fund, which benefits cultural institutions, art organizations and independent artists in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the trauma of Maria.
Miranda spoke about taking Hamilton to Puerto Rico here:
Among his other backers, Miranda has found a powerful corporate partner in American Express. He appeared in a minute-long AmEx spot that broke in August, created by agency mcgarrybowen, in which he is seen touring his Washington Heights neighborhood in upper Manhattan. Now, AmEx is expanding the partnership, rolling out a new spot around Small Business Saturday as well as supporting the Hamilton engagement in Puerto Rico.
Here is the new spot, which is rolling out Monday:
As we mentioned when the earlier spot broke, Miranda is the perfect ambassador for promoting small businesses that make their neighborhoods unique, given his unduring ties to Washington Heights, where both ads are based.
"I'm all for my neighborhood," he says in the new ad's voiceover. "I'm all for backing the community that's made me who I am. I'm all for my theater, my barbershop, by friends. Because a community doesn't just have small businesses. It is small businesses. That's why American Express founded Small Business Saturday. So this year, let's all get up, get out and shop small on Nov. 24."
Small Business Saturday, introduced by AmEx in 2010, is meant to be a counterpart to Black Friday the day before and Cyber Monday the week after—encouraging holiday shoppers to patronize local businesses rather than the national chains that benefit on those other days. In the new ad, Miranda calls SBS "a small way to make a big difference."
AmEx is also supporting the Hamilton shows as part of a larger commitment to Puerto Rico, which includes expanding the SBS program to support the island, as local businesses continue to get back on their feet.
The company is also giving eligible AmEx card members early access to purchase tickets for the shows, ahead of the general ticket sale, which begins Nov. 18. In the coming days, eligible card members will be able to purchase Puerto Rico travel packages, including:
• Two tickets to the Hamilton show on January 12, 2019 in San Juan
• Curated volunteer opportunities in San Juan
• Pre-show reception
• Meet and greet with Lin at a post-show reception