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Penn State Theatre Alum Spearheads Launch of “Hamilton” App with Assistance of Penn State Students

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The hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” is coming … to a smartphone near you. And we’re not just talking music. On August 11, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda announced the launch of the mobile app, which includes an app-based show lottery, stickers, camera filters, merch store, music, news, tickets, and exclusive content with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the “Hamilton” companies.

Downloaded by more than 500,000 people in the first week, the app was spearheaded by Marathon Live Entertainment, a social media and digital marketing company founded by Penn State alumnus Mike Karns (’11 B.F.A. State Management and Lighting Design). Penn State students Evan Young, a telecommunications major, and Haley Stipes, a graphic design major, were also involved in creating the app.

“‘Hamilton’ has a passionate, dedicated community and we are always striving to connect with fans whether they have seen the show or not,” said Karns. “Our goal with the app is to diversify the brand in the digital space—this app is our next step in continuing to cultivate a rich digital ecosystem for ‘Hamilton.’”

Young, who is minoring in graphic design, was an intern at Marathon Live Entertainment this summer, and said he was thrilled when he was assigned to work on the app. He created the video shared on “Hamilton” social media platforms the day of the launch. He also formatted the stickers for the app, some of which were designed by Stipes.

Stipes was responsible for the Hamilton emoji-like stickers, which make up one of three sticker packs (the other packs are Fan Art and Show Lyrics). She got involved after Evan invited her to make some fan art, and his supervisor, Melanie Parker, was so impressed by her work that she invited Haley to design the Hamilton sticker pack.

“This experience really pushed me as a graphic designer and showed me what it is like to work with clients in the real world,” said Stipes. “It is extremely rewarding to see my stickers being used and enjoyed by everyone on the app. People are sharing their love for them on social media, and I never thought I’d be a part of something so grand.”

Young agreed that working on the app forced him out of his comfort zone. “Working on the app—and the internship overall—really pushed me and really motivated me to learn more. For example, coming into this internship I was intimidated by Adobe After Effects and didn’t have much experience in it. Over the course of the internship I made it a goal to master the program,” said Young. “I got to do so many cool things, too. I had the opportunity to meet and interact with several Broadway performers, as well as other industry professionals I wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise.”

Karns said Evan was an asset from the start. “From the moment Evan started with us this summer, it was clear that he had a strong aesthetic and skills that were developed and focused in his first two years at Penn State. We gave him increasing responsibilities as the summer progressed, and he knocked each one out of the park. Clearly, his inherent abilities coupled with a first-rate program made him the ideal fit for the ambitious projects we work on at Marathon,” said Karns. “We wouldn’t have been able to launch the app without him, and appreciated him also identifying Haley as a promising artist to help with our sticker packs.”

“Hamilton: An American Musical,” with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, premiered on Broadway in August 2015 and, in 2016, won 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. There is currently a Chicago production and U.S. national tour, as well as a London production set to open in November 2017.

The “Hamilton” app is available on both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. Marathon Live Entertainment, which Karns founded in 2013, currently has a portfolio of several Broadway clients (including “Hamilton,” “The Great Comet,” and “Miss Saigon”), as well as several off-Broadway productions and tours.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without Penn State, and I’m thrilled to be able to mentor and collaborate with current students excelling in their chosen fields,” said Karns.