This year’s Commencement speech will be delivered by the “10 dollar founding father” — or at least the man who plays him.
Award-winning composer, playwright and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda will deliver the Commencement address to the Class of 2016 at the May 16 ceremony. This year, Miranda has gained international recognition for his Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which he wrote, and in which he currently stars as the title character, Alexander Hamilton.
The musical, which is currently running at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City, is almost entirely sold out through August.
In a statement, President Amy Gutmann announced her enthusiasm for the choice. “We are honored to bestow our highest degree on Lin-Manuel Miranda and have him speak at Penn’s 260th Commencement,” she said. “Miranda is one of the most innovative and stunningly brilliant artistic voices of and for our time.”
After the announcement was made on Twitter and via Penn News Today, Miranda tweeted, “Looks like I’ll be up scribbling all night May 15! Thanks for having me, Penn.”
A 2015 recipient of the MacArthur Grant, also known as the “Genius grant,” Miranda first gained recognition for his musical “In the Heights” about the New York City neighborhood Washington Heights, where he grew up. The show received a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2009 and was a 2009 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama.
Hamilton’s current success has catapulted him even further. The show opened on Broadway in 2015 following a sold-out run at The Public Theater in New York City. Off Broadway, it received a record-breaking 10 Lortel Awards, three Outer Critic Circle Awards and eight Drama Desk Awards. The Broadway cast recording of “Hamilton” has been nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award.
At the ceremony, Miranda will receive an honorary doctorate of the arts, among seven other scholars, activists and artists. The recipients will be Hawa Abdi, Elizabeth Bailey, David Brooks, Renee Fleming, Sylvester James Gates Jr., Asma Jahangir and Eric Kandel.
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