Alexander Hamilton; A revolutionary play on America’s History
“How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”
This is a direct quote from the first act of Hamilton and the question that the musical delves into as it explores the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of America and a key player in the American Revolution and his life from the time he arrived in New York to his untimely demise in a duel in New Jersey.
The musical was directed by Thomas Kail and stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and was first shown in the Public Theater last year. The play shines the light on a founding father that is often forgotten and tells his story.
According to Miranda, he was inspired by reading a copy of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, a biography. After reading the book, he started to envision the life of Hamilton as a musical and went on to produce it.
The first thing to stand out about Hamilton is the music, as it relates to the story of an immigrant orphan turned founding father through Miranda’s masterful style of rap. Hamilton is being heralded for redefining musicals as it uses rap, hip hop and R&B ballads to tell their tale, and does so magnificently.
The music has a way of immersing you into the play and builds up suspense and intensifies, and enhances every scene. The happy moments are made to glow in front of you and the sad moments (such as the song ‘It’s Quiet Uptown) are made heart-wrenching.
The composition is also to be commended. Throughout the musical you hear reprises and callbacks to earlier numbers, such as Blow Us All Away having the melody from Get Away, in order to bring us back to the first time Philip, Hamilton’s son, appears in the musical, as well as his ties to his mother.
The musical does a superb job of portraying these historical figures as painfully human. Alexander Hamilton is an ambitious self-starter, a father to his son, a man caught between two loves.
Burr is a thinker, someone who waits for the moment to act, a single father who loves his daughter, a man who has his own dreams. Both these men feel entirely flawed and complex and relatable.
There are times when you forget you’re seeing one of America’s founding fathers and the man who shot him. Angelica Schuyler also come to life as an ambitious social climber, a counterpart to Hamilton himself, and Eliza Schuyler, the compassionate wife who ends up outliving him. Hamilton’s dynamic with other founding fathers Washington, John Laurens and the revolutionary spy Hercules Mulligan are also explored and incredibly fleshed out.
Another notable thing about Hamilton is that a bulk of its main cast are people of color. In a time when harmful rhetoric can be found on every day news and Hollywood tends to wash away representation, Hamilton is a way for us to remember that immigrants and people of color belong in America.
We are capable of being important and successful, that America is as much our home. The line “Immigrants get The Job Done,” which was sung out by Daveed Diggs and Miranda who portrayed Lafayette and Hamilton respectively, has gained such popularity that it’s being put on t-shirts.
We can all agree that representation is important, and from Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr) to Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Daniele Diggs) to Angelica (Renée Elise Goldsberry), Hamilton delivers it.
Overall, Hamilton does a superb job of what America stands for, as Hamilton describes the nation as “a place where even orphan immigrants can leave their fingerprints and rise up” and shows us the revolution that gave us our home and heritage. It gives us a view into the lives of our founding fathers and it gives us a soundtrack that grips us and immerses us and does not let us go.
Hamilton became such a success that the Schuyler sisters performed in the Super Bowl. Since its release, Hamilton has received 16 Tony nominations, 11 of which it won. It was also awarded the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
The musical has been recently announced to come to the Broward Center for the 2018/19 season and both the converted and the curious are now renewing their membership to ensure they can get their tickets.
For more information visit http://www.browardcenter.org/.