This is a difficult post to write. Serving as president of the Hewlett Foundation has been an incredible honor and privilege. But, increasingly, I have found myself less and less engaged by my work. So much has come to feel like administrative drudgery and empty ceremony. I realized that I don’t really “fit” this position. For that reason, I have decided to return to my first love and true passion: musical theater.
It isn’t as big a stretch for me as you might think. The runaway success of Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” confirmed something I have long suspected: Americans have an innate affinity for entertainment that combines musical theater with constitutional history. The thrill of federalism! The pathos of the separation of powers! Add a backbeat and a melody, and the result is sure to be Broadway gold. What could be simpler?
That’s why I’m pleased to announce that I’ve started work shopping “Madison, the Musical,” which I wrote and scored and will direct, play the lead in, and sell the concessions for.
Based on the life and writings of my favorite founding father (why else do you think we have an initiative named after Madison), the production features everything from saucy upbeat numbers like “The Mischiefs of Faction” and “Hamilton, Shmamilton” to a beautiful and poignant ballad Madison sings to his best friend entitled “Care for Me, Thomas.” If “Hamilton” can wring so much out of cabinet meetings and the fight over a national bank, surely there’s something in Federalist No. 10 that will bring a tear to the eye.
The next step is fundraising, because Broadway musicals don’t come cheap. Luckily, if there’s one thing an ex-foundation president has, it’s a good Rolodex. I’ll be in touch.
And finally, on a completely unrelated note, and as my last official act as the president of the Hewlett Foundation, I’m pleased to announce our new Musical Theater Initiative, which will provide grants to individuals of exceptional talent who are planning to write, score, direct, play the lead in, and sell the concessions for new works. Full details on how to apply for a grant can be found here.