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Thomas Kail explains how Eliza's gasp at the end of 'Hamilton' came to be

Ashley Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Spoiler warning: The following story contains spoilers from "Hamilton" -- both the Broadway show and the filmed version now streaming on Disney+ -- including details of the ending.

Though the "Hamilton" cast recording has 46 tracks, it purposefully doesn't encapsulate every single aural moment of the musical. So even the most seasoned listeners of the album were surprised by a few "new" moments in the movie, released on Disney+.

"As someone who grew up ONLY listening to cast albums (we ain't have money for a lot of Broadway shows, like most people) those withheld moments were REVELATIONS to me when I finally experienced them onstage, years later," Lin-Manuel Miranda explained in a Tumblr post four years ago. "'Hamilton' is sung through, and I wanted to have at least ONE revelation in store for you. I stand by the decision, and I think the album is better for it."

What did the recording miss? The lyricless yet significant redcoat transition, between "You'll Be Back" and before "Right Hand Man." The tragic death of John Laurens (Anthony Ramos), which pushes Alexander Hamilton to work "Non-Stop." Eliza Hamilton's (Phillipa Soo) somber scream over the body of her son.

And that tear-filled, guttural gasp from Eliza that closes the entire show.

Over the years -- and especially in the days since the movie was released -- viewers have speculated as to what the final moment means.

 

"I have heard all of these theories," Thomas Kail, who directed the stage show and the movie, told The Times on Thursday. "I'm very pleased that it's generating conversation, that people are thinking about it and talking about it."

Just beforehand, the show's action has jumped to 50 years after the death of Alexander. Eliza lists just some of what she's achieved in that time: interviewing everyone whom her late husband fought alongside, raising funds for the Washington Monument, speaking out against slavery and establishing the first private orphanage in New York City.

In the last few seconds, she steps up to the lip of the stage. With a spotlight shining right on her, she looks out into the audience and gasps.

One popular interpretation is that Eliza, now 97 years old, has died and seen the face of God. Another is that she's seen the face of Alexander. "Oh, I can't wait to see you again / it's only a matter of time," she sings just before that moment.

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