UPDATE Tuesday evening: Adds information about the finalists and the jury, below.
Earlier update: 12:30 p.m. with comment from Lin-Manuel Miranda:
Miranda released this statement: “It is a tremendous honor to even be considered for this very prestigious award. Quiara [Alegria Hudes] and I were elated to have been recognized as finalists for In The Heights, so to win today for Hamilton is beyond my wildest dreams. This award is for everyone who has been a part of Hamilton’s six plus year journey. To be the ninth musical to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in its 100 year history is truly humbling for all of us. For Hamilton to now be in the same company as Of Thee I Sing, South Pacific, Fiorello!, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Chorus Line, Sunday in the Park with George, Rent, and most recently Next to Normal is outside of our own comprehension. Look at where we are. Look at where we started.”
EARLIER: Hamilton won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama this afternoon, the latest affirmation of author, composer, lyricist and star Lin-Manuel Miranda’s talent, already recognized with a McArthur Foundation “genius” grant, celebrations at the White House and, seemingly, more accolades each day. Hamilton is the first musical to win the drama award since Next to Normal in 2010.
Today was the centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes, which are administered by Columbia University.
The show, a rap-infused musical based on Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton, has been the smash hit of the season and is set to become one of the biggest blockbusters in Broadway history. It has been hailed by politicians and partisans of both the right and the left for its portrayal of America’s immigrant “foundling Founding Father,” in a show that sets out the beginnings of the Republic with a cast that is nearly all African-American and Hispanic. The show has single-handedly brought into the spotlight a figure best known for being killed by his arch-rival Aaron Burr, in a duel. Hamilton, the young country’s first Secretary of the Treasury, had been an essential aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, and principal author of the Federalist Papers that explained the Constitution to the citizenry.
The show also has been grossing some $1.7 million weekly and is sold out for months. It’s been added to the New York City public schools curriculum, and the original Broadway cast album has become a best-seller.
The drama jurors recommended two other works along with Hamilton for the prize, as do the juries for every prize category. The final choice is the prerogative of the Pulitzer board, although the jurors typically make their first choice clear. The other drama finalists were Stephen Karam’s Humans, currently running on Broadway, and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Gloria, which ran off-Broadway earlier this year. This year’s jury was headed by Washington Post drama critic Peter Marks and included playwright Ayad Akhtar, theater professor Stephanie Arnold, Anne Marie Welsh, theater critic, Script Editor, and Newsday drama critic Linda Winer.
The announcement included two prizes awarded to writers for The New Yorker magazine, to Kathryn Schulz for feature writing and to Emily Nussbaum for her television criticism. Those choices are certain to be controversial, as the Pulitzer have long been the domain of daily newspapers, while magazines compete for National Magazine Awards, also administered by Columbia. (A third New Yorker writer, William Finnegan, won the prize for biography or autobiography, for his memoir, Barbarian Days. However the prizes in Letters, Drama and Music are awarded under different rules than the journalism categories.)
The Pulitzers began accepting magazine entries last year, but this is the first time they were awarded in the journalism categories. Nussbaum Tweeted: