The Room Where It Happens

"The Room Where It Happens"
Song by Leslie Odom Jr., Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, & the Cast of Hamilton from the album Hamilton
Released 2015
Length 5:19
Writer(s) Lin-Manuel Miranda
Composer(s) Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lyricist(s) Lin-Manuel Miranda
Language English
Hamilton track listing

"Say No to This"
"The Room Where It Happens"
"Schuyler Defeated"

"The Room Where It Happens" is a song from the stage musical Hamilton. The musical premiered Off-Broadway in February 2015 and then on Broadway in August 2015. Lin-Manuel Miranda composed the music, lyrics and book for the song and musical. [1] The musical relates the life of Alexander Hamilton and his relationships with his family, and Aaron Burr. The song "The Room Where It Happens" is sung in Act 2 of the musical, and relates the story of The Compromise of 1790.


The song's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda explained, "'Wait for It' and 'The Room Where It Happens' are two of the best songs I’ve ever written in my life and [Aaron Burr] got them both".[2]

Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton's musical director, explained how he came to add a banjo to a hip-hop band: "'The Room Where it Happens' just cried for it. That to me is probably my single greatest idea in the whole show, only because it’s so quirky and is so of the style of the music. It’s so Kander and Ebb-y, Dixieland, so I just sat down to orchestrate it, and I’m thinking to myself, 'What can the guitar do?' And literally in a flash of light, I’m like, 'Oh my god, it could be a banjo!' It invokes the feel of the song and I think it really fits in the world of it, but it’s also so left of center and not what you would expect."[3]


In a dinner table bargain, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison create an unprecedented political compromise where the capital city is moved in exchange for Hamilton's financial system being supported. Aaron Burr enviously comments on how he had no agency in this decision. explained "History has drawn much of its information on the compromise from Thomas Jefferson's account of the evening, according to PBS; neither Miranda nor anyone else can be entirely certain what happened behind those closed doors".[4]


Vibe wrote that song is sung over a "snazzy, jazzy beat almost to tease [Hamilton's] VIP status".[5] The Huffington Post said the "slick" song is "just Fosse enough".[6] The Nation described it as a "razzmatazz show-tune".[7] Timeout deemed it a "jazz romp".[8] The Washington Post called it a "bluesy elucidation of a politician’s urge".[9] Patheos deemed it Burr's "villain song".[10] Broad Street Review deemed it a "pop ballad".[11] Move says the song has a "blend of New Orleans and Dixieland jazz."[12] Wiux deemed it "sinister, driven, and overall jazzy".[13] The Buffalo News deemed it "quiet and haunting".[14]

IBJ argued that the song "demonstrates an awareness and respect for 'Somewhere In a Tree', from Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures score".[15] National post expanded on this comparison, writing that "like its predecessor, this song grows in intensity as it proceeds, spurred on by its staging."[16] Making reference to a different Broadway musical, Smithsonian Magazine said the experience of watching the performance is "a lot like seeing Ben Vereen take the stage for the first time in Jesus Christ Superstar, a watershed for performer and audience".[17]

Critical reception

The song received critical acclaim. The New York Times said the "jivey...wicked meditation on being a political outsider" is "now a full-fledged showstopper".[18] The Los Angeles Times grooved to this song, and appreciated "Aaron Burr ditches his usual political double talk for no-holds-barred showmanship".[19] The Huffington Post said that this number makes the audience root for Burr.[6] The Hollywood Reporter said it is a showstopper and a "rousing number".[20] Entertainment Weekly deemed it the show's biggest showstopper, and described it as "pulse-quickening" and "surprising".[21] Variety argues the song reveals Burr's "frustration and yearning."[22] Daily Review said the song is "an ode to power and the desperate desire to be in the inner sanctum."[23] Talkin' Broadway argues that the song's lyrics don't do much narrative heavy lifting, "hardly crystalizing more of the man for us".[24] The Wall Street Journal deemed it a "spectacular second-act production number".[25] NBC New York argues that this song reveals Burr's true nature as a "stop-at-nothing climber obsessed with relevancy".[26] The New Yorker listed it as one of the top ten showstoppers of 2015, describing it as an "unforgettable in this song about power and powerlessness".[27]

National Post wrote that the song is the show's most exciting number, aided by "brilliance of Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography, an almost ceaseless but never excessive swirl, precisely keyed to the beats."[16] The Wrap deemed it an "infectious showstopper".[28] New York Theatre Guide writes that "the experience is visceral for us all and becomes a show stopper."[29] NBC New York described it as a "sly, number."[30] Deadline deemed it "one of the show’s most memorable songs."[31] Theatre Mania said it is one of the show's "show's most high-flying [numbers]".[32] The Post Gazette remarked that the song "bring[s] down the house."[33] Emertainment Monthly noted the song is "one of the most monumental numbers in Hamilton".[34] Uloop called it one of the show's catchiest tunes, along with "Wait For It".[35] RG Magazine wrote the song "captures the emotional and political complexities of Burr."[36]


  1. " Hamilton Broadway", accessed June 11, 2016
  2. Rembert Browne. "Genius: A Conversation With 'Hamilton' Maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda". Grantland.
  3. Suzy Evans. "The man behind the "Hamilton" sound: Hidden Beatles references, the "hip-hop horse" sample and why if "it's all computerized, there's no heart to it"". Salon.
  4. "The Secret Meaning Behind the Lyrics to "The Room Where It Happens" from 'Hamilton'". Yahoo News. 17 February 2016.
  5. "Going H.A.M.: A Track-By-Track Review Of The 'Hamilton' Soundtrack". Vibe.
  6. 1 2 "I Have an Opinion on Every Song in "Hamilton"". The Huffington Post. 1 October 2015.
  7. Alisa Solomon (27 August 2015). "How 'Hamilton' Is Revolutionizing the Broadway Musical". The Nation.
  8. "Hamilton". Time Out New York. 8 June 2015.
  9. Peter Marks (6 August 2015). "'Hamilton': Making ecstatic history". Washington Post.
  10. "Hamilton The Musical: An Album Review". Monique Ocampo Writes.
  11. "'Hamilton' at the Public Theater".
  12. "'Hamilton' Cast Album",, October 14, 2015
  13. "Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)". 29 October 2015.
  14. Dablowski, Colin. "'Hamilton' hearkens back to the real American Dream" The Buffalo News, February 22, 2016
  15. "Broadway roundup (part 3): Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Hamilton' reviewed".
  16. 1 2 Robert Cushman (8 September 2015). "How Lin-Manuel Miranda revives the American musical through hip-hop and history". National Post.
  17. Jeff MacGregor. "Meet Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Genius Behind "Hamilton," Broadway's Newest Hit". Smithsonian.
  18. "Review: Hamilton, Young Rebels Changing History and Theater". The New York Times. 7 August 2015.
  19. Los Angeles Times (4 November 2015). "Review: 'Hamilton' is a watershed musical that sets a Founding Father's tale to hip-hop – LA Times".
  20. Frank Scheck (6 August 2015). "Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Hamilton': Theater Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  21. Lin-Manuel Miranda. "'Hamilton': EW stage review -". Entertainment Weekly's
  22. Marilyn Stasio. "'Hamilton' Review: Broadway Musical Opened Aug. 6 – Variety". Variety.
  23. "Hamilton: the first 'new' musical of the 21st century". Daily Review: film, stage and music reviews, interviews and more.
  24. "Talkin' Broadway Review: Hamilton".
  25. Terry Teachout (7 August 2015). "'Hamilton' Review: The Revolution Moves Uptown". WSJ.
  26. "Lin-Manuel Miranda Calls the Shots in Majestic 'Hamilton'". NBC New York.
  27. Michael Schulman (17 December 2015). "The Top Ten Showstoppers of 2015". The New Yorker.
  28. Robert Hofler (7 August 2015). "'Hamilton' Broadway Review: The Founding Fathers Never Looked or Sounded So Cool". TheWrap.
  29. "Review of Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway".
  30. "Lin-Manuel Miranda Makes History With "Hamilton"". NBC New York.
  31. Jeremy Gerard. "'Hamilton' Opens On Broadway, Bigger And Better Than Ever: Review – Deadline". Deadline.
  32. Zachary Stewart (17 February 2015). "Hamilton".
  33. "Broadway review: Brilliant 'Hamilton' puts history firmly in the present tense". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  34. Dominick, Nora. "A Day Spent Listening to 'Hamilton'". Emertainment Monthly.
  35. "Hamilton Album Review: Starting a Revolution Pt. 2". Uloop.
  36. Martinez, Michael. "Hamilton: Broadway's Revolutionary New Musical Theatre Review". RG Magazine.
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