Coinciding with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” performances in Puerto Rico, Jimmy Fallon took “The Tonight Show” to the island for Tuesday night’s episode.
Miranda and the musical’s cast opened the episode with a parody of the show’s “The Story of Tonight,” updated with lyrics for “The Tonight Show” and complete with Miranda confronting an identically costumed Fallon.
“There are friends who say ‘good luck,’ and there are friends who say, ‘Hold on. I’m coming with you,’” Miranda tweeted Tuesday, thanking Fallon for his visit. Fallon himself called the show, which was taped entirely in Puerto Rico, “a love letter” to the island and is trying to help its economy recover.
At the Luis A. Ferré Performing Arts Center, which is housing the musical, the two entertainers spoke at length about bringing the Broadway smash to Miranda’s homeland in the wake of 2017’s catastrophic Hurricane Maria and how Miranda’s historical show took on new meaning there.
“Different things come to the forefront depending on the audience and the situation,” Miranda said. “There’s a song in this show called ‘Hurricane’ and I could barely get through it [during dress rehearsal] last night... what I remember so vividly from Hurricane Maria is the quiet — literally not being able to hear from the island in that immediate aftermath — and the opening line of that song is ‘In the eye of the hurricane there’s quiet.’”
The “Mary Poppins Returns” star told Fallon he remembers writing the line, but never thought it would resonate in such a way.
“It was five months before my family had power in their mountain town… there’s not a more resilient people than the Puerto Rican people, and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria sort of proves that,” he said.
The musical, which kicked off its three-week run on Friday night, is meant to benefit artists on the island by raising $15 million to put together multiyear grants for individual artists, museums, theater groups and more.
“Let’s raise money for artists on the island because they’re never remembered in recovery efforts and rebuilding efforts, and they’re going to be the ones to tell the story of this hurricane,” Miranda said. “They’re the ones who were here and they’re the ones who lived inside that silence.”
As for Fallon, he did his part to boost tourism by going zip-lining through Toro Verde, partying in the streets of Old San Juan with Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny and a parade of locals, and visiting with World Central Kitchen founder and chef José Andrés.
“I can feel the energy and the spirit of this place, the history, the food, the music, the people. Puerto Rico is thriving, and it's open for business,” the NBC host said.