In case anyone wasn’t aware, I love shows! I did musicals and plays when I was in High School, I looked extensively into doing Theatre in college when I was applying, and I love seeing shows and performing in general to this day. When my parents told me I’d get a chance to see a Broadway musical as an early birthday present I got excited! When I learned we were seeing Hamilton, I was a bit skeptical.
Hamilton is a musical based on the biography of Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury-Secretary of the United States, as written by Ron Chernow. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and star of the Tony Award winning In The Heights, wrote the book, lyrics, and music, and normally stars in Hamilton as Hamilton. I say usually because he has an understudy who fills in for him on Saturday matinees, who we saw yesterday.
The reason for my skepticism? It’s a hip hop musical. Yes, the music for a show about Colonial America is up beat, fast paced sampling and rapping. The idea is for it to be a stylized show that tells the story of the revolution, specifically that of Alexander Hamilton, with a more modern musical score and more colorful cast. By colorful I mean most of the actors in the show are either black or hispanic. When I heard about the concept of the show I had some worries about the show missing the spirit of that age and not really getting the story right. That matters a whole lot to me, a guy who loves my country and that country’s history. And I had never seen a hip hop musical, so I was extremely curious about how that would work.
I walked in and the show began. The opening number easily allayed my fears. The opener nailed the emotion, introduced the characters well, and showed how clever, witty, and emotional the music would be in the show. Good news? It only got better!
King George III made some hilarious appearances.
The cabinet scenes took the form of a rap battle between Hamilton and rival Thomas Jefferson with George Washington as the judge of the battle. It’s an excellent format that tells a good amount of history in a clever and fun hip hop format. It’s not all happy go lucky and fun though. There are some sad moments that make the viewer stop and think “My God…”
I won’t spoil the ending for people who’ve not seen it or know the end of Hamilton’s life, but the end contrasts strongly with the rest of the show’s mood. It hits the right emotions throughout. I walked out of the show marveling at one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It should win next year’s Tony for Best Musical.
Hamilton isn’t for everyone though. It does carry a bit of a high entry fee. If you are an avid theatre-goer, enjoy hip hop and R&B music, enjoy American history, or some combination of those three, you should go see this show. If you’re not a big musical fan but get dragged to NYC with your date and are forced to see a show, or just getting into the genre, I would advise seeing a different show. Hamilton is not at all a “Starter Musical” if you will. Go see Finding Neverland, Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Lion King, or something that is a little more accessible than Hamilton. If you’re looking for a show an avid theatre person and a history buff would love, you have to go see Hamilton. In happy I got to see it as a birthday present!