The American Story of the Musical Hamilton
Hamilton “is a story about America then, told by America now.” Lin-Manuel Miranda.
I had to wait for five months in order to get tickets for the Broadway musical Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new show about Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers of America. I became a fan of Lin-Manuel in 2008 after seeing In The Heights, his Tony award-winning musical set in the largely Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City. The soundtrack, composed of latin music and hip-hop, is always playing in my car. (*Below is a youtube favorite of mine showing the cast recording of In The Heights).
Miranda’s new sold-out show Hamilton is inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography about Alexandre Hamilton. Hamilton is a biographical rendering of the life of founding father and U.S. treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, set primarily to rap, jazz, hip hop and R&B.
The musical chronicles Hamilton’s life throughout the Revolutionary War and his role in forming the American government. It delves into his relationships with his fellow revolutionaries Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as well as his adversary and eventual killer Aaron Burr. The musical also explores his relationship with women and how they affected his life both politically and personally. (*Below a youtube musical montage from the Public Theatre: “Hey, yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I am not throwing away my shot»).
Alexander Hamilton was a poor immigrant kid from a broken home, an orphan born on the Caribbean island of Saint Nevis and as Lin- Miranda raps: “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?”.
An excellent piece in the New Yorker says: «By telling the story of the founding of the country through the eyes of a bastard, immigrant orphan, told entirely by people of color, he is saying, ‘This is our country. We get to lay claim to it’”.
I was scared that in following the fast rhythm of the rap and hip hop lyrics, I would miss parts of the story and get lost in translation, but one of the brilliant aspects of Hamilton is the way the complex stories are simply delivered, made comprehensible for an audience of all ages and backgrounds, even with a limited knowledge of American history. It also helps that the elocution is perfection. If you have the chance to see this show anywhere in the world: run! do not miss this jewel.
PS… My favorite line is: Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette look to the crowd and say, “Immigrants: We get the job done”.