By Sarah Brill, Science & Technology Editor
Broadway’s “Hamilton,” created by composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, was an instant sensation upon its debut in August of 2015. Nearly five years later, “Hamilton” remains a showcase of creative ingenuity, combining modern day hip-hop and rap styles with the history of our founding fathers. “Hamilton” transcends conventions of standard Broadway performance, embracing an unfamiliar score and tackling a subject that had never before graced the Broadway stage.
“Hamilton” remains the musical of the century and a must-watch for this generation. Given the show’s popularity, however, ticket prices are exorbitant. It wasn’t until July 3 that the dreams and wishes of those, like me, who have been entering the “Hamilton” ten-dollar ticket lottery since 2015 had finally been answered: Lin-Manuel Miranda released a filmed version of “Hamilton” to Disney+.
This musical not only conquers new ground as a rap/hip-hop phenomenon; its cast also features racially diverse actors playing famously white characters, which in my opinion was both a brave and ambitious choice.The featured players included Lin-Manuel Miranda as the political overachiever Alexander Hamilton who became George Washington’s (Christopher Jackson) right-hand man. Hamilton is married to Eliza Schuyler (Phillipa Soo), but that doesn’t stop him from having both a complex relationship with Eliza’s sister, Angelica (Renée Elise Goldsberry) and an affair with Maria Reynolds (Jasmine Cephas Jones). Then there are Hamilton’s rivals, Aaron Burr, (Leslie Odom Jr.), and Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs), both of whom live the shadow of Hamilton’s success throughout the show.
While the curtain opens with an overview of Hamilton’s life, both personal and professional, the second act faces much deeper subject matters including death and political destruction.
And damn, they got the job done! Needless to say, both acts achieve their respective goals in communicating to the audience the life and death of Alexander Hamilton. “Hamilton” definitely lives up to the expectation set by 16-year-old me listening to the soundtrack for the first time with my theatre company. At first listen, I was confused about how a Spotify playlist could be over two hours in length, realizing then that this, like “Cats” and “Les Miserables,” was a fully sung- and rapped-through performance. One of the perks of this mode of performance is that we are not missing out on any dialogue to fill the gaps between numbers, so as I listened, my 16-year-old brain attempted to imagine what was actually happening on stage. I jumped to many conclusions, none of which were accurate, I might add, as to how this could have been staged. Only after seeing it on Disney+, five years after memorizing the song lyrics, did I realize how fresh and spirited this musical actually was.
“Hamilton” is a piece of theatrical ingenuity, captivating both older and younger audience members to experience this show-stopping performance.