DENVER (CBS4) – Students across Colorado packed into the Buell Theatre Wednesday to see their peers perform original pieces retelling major events in American history inspired by “Hamilton” the musical.READ MORE: USGS Reports 2.8 Magnitude Earthquake Near Aspen Saturday Night
They then watched a special showing of the Broadway hit.
“It was really nerve-racking. It was really scary,” said Grace Padilla, 17, a student at Vantage Point High School.
Padilla had never been to the Buell and had the chance to take the stage on her first visit.
She performed a poem based on the song, “Wrote My Way Out” from the “Hamilton” mixtape, a collection of songs inspired by the musical itself featuring artists not part of the original production. She found the song to be reflective of her personal story.
“I kind of came out of poverty and an abusive, broken home to really show the writer I’ve become and how it saved my life,” said Padilla.
The touring company of “Hamilton” is traveling across the country. In each city they visit, they host a day highlighting the educational program built around the musical. Classrooms spend several weeks studying American history with a special curriculum that looks at Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers.
More than 2,700 students and teachers from 38 high schools around the Denver metro area participated in the program and celebrated with a special performance of “Hamilton” just for them.
“I still can’t believe I am even here,” said Precious Allen, 17, a student at Sierra High School.READ MORE: 'It's A Team Job': Volunteers Prepare Colorado Lands For Possible Challenging Wild Fire Year
Allen also wrote a poem inspired by the pamphlet “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine. She found his writing about a divide in the country over political issues remains relevant. She wanted to echo his desire to unify the country.
“Though there is political divide, we have a common goal,” she said. “No matter what decade or century you perform it in, it still fits.”
Students were nervous about sharing the stage with the hottest ticket in town and the biggest show in the country. In addition to the poems by Padilla and Allen, some students did individual rap performances or rap battles.
They mirrored the storyline of the musical itself with founding fathers challenging each other lyrically, all written by the students. The cast members watched as they performed and hosted a “Q&A” before the students watched “Hamilton” in the afternoon.
“They were so amazing today that they could create some brilliant things later on,” said Mathenee Treco, who plays Hercules Mulligan. “It’s just inspiring to see. It makes my job easier when I have to do the show tonight.”
Treco grew up in Denver and has performed with the tour for more than a year. He will finish his run in Colorado and is hopeful for the future of this profession after seeing these students at work.
“I am ecstatic to see the least,” he said. “There are stories to be told, and I feel like these generations have been inspired by Hamilton.”
Many of these students have aspirations for a career in theatre, but all were excited to see how they can put a new spin on the nation’s founding, getting a larger audience more engaged with an old story.
“Being able to teach people history in definitely a more interesting way, to really touch a lot more people is an amazing idea,” said Padilla.MORE NEWS: Raise The Future Needs The Colorado Community To Come Together Around Youth Living In Foster Care