It has been a good day for Alexander Hamilton. This morning came word that the first-ever Treasury secretarty is likely to stay on the face of the $10 bill. And now comes the news that the smash hit musical “Hamilton” has won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Lin-Manuel Miranda — who pulled triple duty by writing the music, lyrics and book — also plays the title character in this smash hit tuner that is tipped to sweep the Tony Awards.
In the 100-year history of the Pulitzers, only eight other musicals have won this award: “Of Thee I Sing” (1932); “South Pacific” (1950); “Fiorello” (1960); “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1962); “A Chorus Line” (1976); “Sunday in the Park with George” (1985); “Rent” (1996); and “Next to Normal” (2010).
This year’s other finalists were two plays, “Gloria” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and “The Humans” by Stephen Karam, which recently transferred to Broadway and is a strong Tonys contender too. Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks chaired a jury that included: playwright Ayad Akhtara, professor Stephanie Arnold and critics Anne Marie Welsh and Linda Winer.
Miranda was a runner-up for this award back in 2009 for his 2008 Tony-winning musical “In the Heights.” That year, the board of the Pulitzers defied its stated creative mission when it bestowed the drama prize on Lynn Nottage‘s off-Broadway play “Ruined.” According to its guidelines, the Pulitzer Prize is to reward “a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life,” but “Ruined” focused on the rape and genital mutilation of women during the civil war in the African Congo.
“Next to Normal” was also the subject of controversy as the board overruled the recommendation of the jury, which had listed “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” by Kristoffer Diaz, “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” by Rajiv Joseph and “In the Next Room or the vibrator play” by Sarah Ruhl as the three finalists. None of those earned the requisite approval by the majority of the board so the 20 members looked further afield among the 70 or so works submitted for consideration.
Photo: Courtesy of “Hamilton”