Hamilton: The Opinion

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Camryn Ward, Reporter

The musical that dominated the Broadway scene in 2016, Hamilton, has proven to be a widely successful show that millions of individuals have grown to love. Whether people were dancing to the musical’s popular tracks in Lin Manuel Miranda face masks or obsessively consuming the addictive alliterations of each song’s lyrics, the popularity that Hamilton saw and continues to see is vast. I, being a huge fan of the show myself, have definitely seen the takeover of Hamilton on American pop culture. I’ve experienced firsthand the rabid obsession over the original cast members, the sudden interest in American history, and the sometimes questionable fanbase. This is my concise review of the show, unfiltered.

I love most of the things about this musical, including the impeccable costume design, set design and the catchy tunes. Specifically, I will focus on the Hamilton performance filmed and uploaded to Disney+ this past July. This is a performance that included the original Broadway cast, with faces like Lin Manuel Miranda, Jonathan Groff, and Phillipa Soo. Their performances are nothing short of incredible in this recording. The opening song, the infamous Alexander Hamilton, introduces each one of the characters in a retrospective outlook to the story–and the cast nails it. Throughout fast-paced, synchronized choreography, the characters keep the level of their voice while they rap and sing the opening number. “Each character rhymes differently. The way that they are rapping contributes to their story,” Daveed Diggs, Layfayette/Jefferson, mentioned to the Vulture in 2016. “George Washington raps in a very on-beat, metronomic way because he is focused and driven and always moving forward. Lafayette has this great arc where he starts out rhyming words that don’t really rhyme and he can’t figure it out. As he becomes comfortable…he can do this complicated, technical, fast stuff. It’s like him mastering this language.” After the show’s first song, the lighting turns blue and the song mellows out as the show rolls along. The show is performed solely through the songs; there is little to no extra dialogue in between songs as so many other musicals do. The story is told through the songs, and it is incredibly easy to figure out the story after a few listens of the soundtrack in order. 

The story of Alexander Hamilton follows the orphan-politician of the same name and his journey through politics, including establishing the first national bank in America and getting to be George Washington’s right-hand man. Throughout battles against the British and the perceived antagonist Aaron Burr, the viewer is also thrown headfirst into Hamilton’s love life and family drama. I recommend it to those who are interested in history, as it is very historically accurate. However, perhaps my favorite aspect of the show is the fact that Writer/Director/Actor Lin Manuel Miranda, who plays Hamilton himself, cast various POC actors to play historically white Founding Fathers of the United States and other characters. Aaron Burr, Angelica Schuyler, Hercules Mulligan, and Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, as well as others, are all played by black actors. The inclusivity in the show is remarkable, considering it is covering such a subject where there was hardly any diversity. “I wanted to write a hip-hop, R&B musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton,” Miranda stated to Broadway News. “If it had been an all-white cast, wouldn’t you think I messed up?”

Hamilton is a breakthrough for Broadway and for American pop culture in general. Lin Manuel Miranda and the cast and crew took historical concepts and wound them into an unforgettable hip-hop soundtrack. Since the end of its run on Broadway, there are two touring companies for the show: one in Chicago and the other in London’s West End. 2.7 million households tuned into Hamilton when its performance was released on Disney+, a testament to the show’s long-lasting popularity among Americans and the world.