Making History: An Evening on Broadway with the Cast of 'Hamilton'
Is 'Hamilton' - the Public Theater hit turned Broadway sensation - worthy of all the hype? I was lucky enough to get to go and learn why the show has garnered so much fanfare.
As a history buff - the show, with its mixed-musical, hip-hop and R&B score and blurred racial boundaries was thrilling - but no more to me than the rest of the audience at the fully-packed Richards Rodgers Theater. The guests ranged from out-of-towners, to Bill Gates, who sat two seats down from me, and Christie Brinkley (who said she loved my shoes). They all seemingly had the same reaction: 'Hamilton' lived up to their expectations. This was readily apparent when the crowd spontaneously erupted into applause throughout the show and when the entire house gave a raucous standing ovation at curtain call.
Lin-Manuel Miranda's original musical tells the story of the revolution-era and post-revolution life of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father that is often overshadowed by the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
Miranda confronts the question: Can the old be made new again? That is exactly what 'Hamilton' does. It revives the story of the man responsible for laying the foundation of America's banking system. It is a story that is especially poignant amidst today's debates over the country's deficit and central banking mandates. But it is told through a modern score and cast. The theatrical portrayal of the "immigrant" who climbed his way into the vortex of American politics, casts new light on the debate between Federalists and Republicans in the formative years of the United States. And of course, reminds the audience that one should watch out for Aaron Burr (whose performance was particularly outstanding).
As famed historian, Thomas K McCraw writes, the young country was "blessed" to have been led by a “handful of people who understood finance and also grasped the economic potential of the American national future.”
This of course, follows the traditional Federalist view. But Miranda does not play to one side or the other. Instead, he takes the old - the story of the American Revolution, that some would argue is told ad nauseum, and makes it new with a score that in and of itself, is revolutionary.
'Hamilton' revives the Broadway musical as audiences have known it for years. Modern hip-hop and R&B numbers combine with soulful arias and traditional lullabies to create a new kind of theater-going experience - one where you don't know what will be coming next. A novelty when seeing a show that at its core, is simply retelling history.
I implore any part time theater enthusiast to find a way into a performance of 'Hamilton' as soon as they are able.
Disclosure: all performance pictures were taken by Joan Marcus