Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2016

Hamilton: An American Musical

by Anita Elberse and Jennifer Schoppe

Abstract

In July 2013, composer, writer, actor and rapper Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Tommy Kail, and producer Jeffrey Seller met to discuss how to launch Hamilton, a new musical based on the life of the first Treasury Secretary of the United States, Alexander Hamilton. With a hip-hop score and an ethnically diverse cast that looked nothing like their historical counterparts, Hamilton was an unlikely candidate for success on Broadway. The trio needed to decide which of two popular routes was best to bring their new musical to Broadway: either take the production straight to Broadway in a 'cold open,' or strike an 'enhancement deal' with a non-profit theater so the musical could be tested before mounting a more expensive Broadway run. Could a hip-hop musical about a largely forgotten Founding Father be a Broadway blockbuster? And if so, what was the right next step in bringing Hamilton closer toward that goal?

Keywords: entertainment; Creative Industries; performing arts; product development; product launch; marketing; (general) management; strategy; blockbusters; non-profit; Strategy; Risk Management; Nonprofit Organizations; Arts; Creativity; Product Launch; Product Development; Theater Entertainment; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; United States;

Citation:

Elberse, Anita, and Jennifer Schoppe. "Hamilton: An American Musical." Harvard Business School Case 517-015, July 2016.