Hamilton is hitting the city “where it happens” – and the two men who were together when the smash-hit musical was born reunited for the occasion.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose Hamilton practically originated in Barack Obama’s White House, stopped by the former president’s office while in Washington, D.C. on Thursday for the Tony-winning musical’s opening night in the nation’s capital.
“Stopped in DC to visit an old friend,” Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote on Twitter alongside a photo of him, his father Luis Miranda and Obama in the former president’s office suite in Washington’s West End.
The composer-actor’s Washington trip included new friends, too. His dates to the Hamilton premiere at the Kennedy Center were winners of Miranda’s Prizeo sweepstakes—two lucky people (each with a plus-one) who got to spend the day in the nation’s capital with Miranda and then accompany him to the show.
All proceeds from the contest went to organizations that promote voter engagement and turnout: Let America Vote, an organization fighting voter suppression laws, the Center for Popular Democracy Action, Latino Victory Project and BlackPAC.
Dana R. Fisher, a Sociology professor at the University of Maryland and one of the sweepstakes winners, spent Thursday meeting Miranda’s parents, chatting with the Mirandas about raising kids, and attending the cast party.
“One of the reasons that I gave to the Prizeo campaign this time is because they’re very supportive of voter rights,” Fisher tells PEOPLE. “There are so many people who have become disenfranchised in our country and so many people who are not being encouraged to participate in our system.”
While Fisher was with Miranda for the majority of Thursday, there were gaps in the day when she was told he had to “run errands.” It was only later that Miranda disclosed that he “got to see an old friend today, and then showed us pictures,” she said.
The friendship between the actor-songwriter and Obama began long before the musical came to life on Broadway. Miranda was only toying with the then-radical idea of a musical on America’s Founding Fathers when First Lady Michelle Obama invited Miranda to perform at a White House poetry slam in 2009.
Miranda made a last-minute decision to try out the now-namesake song “Alexander Hamilton” for the East Room audience of Washington VIPs.
He figured “if it doesn’t play to the Treasury secretary, then it’s not going to play,” Miranda joked during a 2017 appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Not only did the wonky-themed rap speak to the Treasury secretary, it really hit home with the First Family at the time.
“It has become a favorite in the Obama household,” Obama said when introducing the Broadway cast of Hamilton at the White House in 2016.
When his disclosure was met with a “Whoop whoop!” from the audience, Obama teased: “That was the first lady, hooting.”
Obama and Miranda took their friendship to the next level when the duo freestyled in the White House Rose Garden.
“Obamacare okay I’m lookin’ up because it was hopeless,” Manuel rapped.
“That’s going viral,” the president declared of the Rose Garden rap session.
Since leaving the White House, Obama has maintained a relationship with Hamilton‘s creator. Miranda was a headliner in the first Obama Foundation Summit in 2017, performing “Dear Theodosia” alongside Chance the Rapper.
In January, Miranda will travel to Puerto Rico to bring Hamilton to his parents’ homeland. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the star has used his platform to draw attention to the struggling island. He released the song “Almost Like Praying” as a call to action days after the hurricane. All profits from the record funded relief efforts — contributing over $20 million to the island.
Miranda says he is determined to bring Hamilton to life on Puerto Rico no matter how much rebuilding remains.
Miranda said on NPR that the show will come to Puerto Rico even “If I have to play Hamilton with a f—-ing flashlight under my face in one hand and a dueling pistol in the other.”
Back in Washington, it was Miranda’s focus on philanthropy that left Fisher dazzled.
“He’s obviously brilliant and funny, but he’s also just a really nice guy,” she says. “It shows that people who are super successful can also be super nice and super charitable with their time.”