An explosive story published September 28 by Bloomberg details how the original cast of the Broadway blockbuster Hamilton negotiated themselves a piece of the show's colossal profits.
The centerpiece of the story is the original August 15, 2015, letter (read it in full here) drafted and signed by 22 members of the musical’s original Broadway cast claiming a percentage of the profits because they helped to create the show during its Off-Broadway shakeout.
Also included are transcripts of emails that followed as producer Jeffrey Seller tried to persuade them not to pursue their original goal.
Bloomberg did not report how it had obtained the letter and the emails. A production spokesperson told Playbill.com they had no comment on the Bloomberg report.
Seller eventually agreed to a deal that gave the original cast and several other participants a one percent piece of net Broadway profits (from a show raking in upwards of $1 to $2 million at the box office) to split, plus a smaller .33 percent share from most future productions, a concession that continues to rock Broadway as other casts reportedly try to get similar deals.
The deal was reported by Playbill.com last April when it was announced. What's new is the outline of steps that led to it.
Among the 22 cast members who signed the original letter were three who went on to win Tony Awards for the show, Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Leslie Odom Jr.
The story outlines how Seller offered the cast members lump-sum checks (ranging $29,000 to $36,000 apiece)—even to the point of drafting and signing them and leaving them in the actors’ dressing rooms. But, on the advice of the Actors’ Equity union and their attorneys, the group hung tough until a percentage deal was reached.
The cast also reportedly was torn about participating without extra pay in the #Ham4Ham concerts outside the theatre. The concerts continued, but their frequency was scaled back.
In the end, the deal was struck and the actors—including Miranda himself—are sharing in the profits from the show. Most of the signees have now left the show, but will continue to profit from their collaboration.