George H.W. Bush Hoped to See Hamilton with His Wife; Today the Cast Treated Him to Private Concert
Before Barbara Bush died at 92 on April 17, she and her husband of 73 years, former President George H.W. Bush, had long looked forward to seeing the hit Broadway musical Hamilton during the show’s run in Houston, Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, tells PEOPLE now.
Sadly, the former first lady passed away before she got a chance to see the show. But on Tuesday, the cast and crew of Hamilton brought “complete joy” to a grieving widower when they put on a private concert for the former president in his Houston office.
Bush, 93, spent nearly two weeks in the hospital following his beloved wife’s funeral on April 21. He was released from Houston Methodist Hospital on May 4 after receiving treatment for an infection. On Tuesday he took to Twitter to share photos from the Hamilton concert. The photos were taken by Mark Burns in the office of the former president.
“A complete joy to welcome the ‘HamFam’ — the cast and crew of @HamiltonMusical — to our Houston office for a special performance I will never forget,” the former president tweeted. “History never sounded so powerful.”
McGrath tells PEOPLE that Bush “was so taken with this very special performance — and the cast — that he wants to try to go see the entire production before their Houston runs ends this coming Sunday.”
“After the performance, he declared it ‘powerful and wonderful’ — it definitely got a presidential seal of approval,” McGrath adds.
The former president, who’s become known in recent years for his affinity for colorful, zany-patterned socks, does not own any Hamilton socks — “yet,” says McGrath. Instead, Bush sported a pair of navy socks with anchors on them for the special concert on Tuesday.
RELATED VIDEO: George H.W. Bush Held His Dying Wife’s Hand All Day Before She Passed Away: ‘He Is Broken-Hearted’
McGrath adds that Bush “really is doing great” after his recent health scare. “Sharp, happy, and looking forward to hopefully seeing Hamilton and then heading to Maine after that by the middle part of next week,” the spokesman says, referring to the former president’s family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
This isn’t the first time Bush has taken in a private Broadway performance.
In the past, other blockbuster acts such as the cast of Jersey Boys have performed for the former president in his Houston office, McGrath tells PEOPLE. “And when Kenny Singer with Broadway Across America — working with the terrific Hamilton team — suggested that something like that could maybe be arranged with Hamilton, no one was more enthusiastic than the 41st president of the United States,” McGrath says.
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda called it an honor.
Fans on Twitter were happy to see the 41st president looking well after his recent hospitalization and his wife’s death.
Tuesday marked the first sighting of Bush since his wife’s funeral in College Station, Texas. The cast of Hamilton performed for the former president before staging its touring show in downtown Houston, Houston ABC affiliate KTRK reported.
Bush was “broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara,” the former president’s longtime chief of staff Jean Becker said in in a statement shortly after Mrs. Bush’s death.
“He held her hand all day today and was at her side when [she] left this good earth,” Becker said of the day Mrs. Bush passed away.
The former president was hospitalized on April 23, less than 24 hours after laying his wife to rest. At the time, he was in intensive care for “an infection that spread to his blood,” Bush’s spokesman said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
McGrath later released a statement announcing Bush’s discharge from the hospital on May 4, saying, “His doctors report he is doing well and is happy to return home.”