Hamilton: An American Musical
5 out of 5 stars
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. – The Schuyler Sisters, Hamilton: An American Musical (Also, a quote from The Declaration of Independence)
The American Revolutionary War may have been relegated to history books by many in our world. Yet, with the right choreography, hip-hop beats and lyrics, the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton has exploded across screens this month. All thanks to the arrival of Hamilton: An American Musical on the streaming platform Disney+. Lin-Manuel Miranda wears a multitude of hats in this production. The multi-talented artist plays the Treasury Secretary and Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, wrote the music, lyrics and book after being inspired by the 2004 biography of Hamilton's life written by Ron Chernow.
What viewers will be treated to is the origin story of Hamilton within the first ten seconds of the opening number. Born out of wedlock on a small island in the Caribbean Sea, the audience must strap themselves in to hear the story of an immigrant who founded America’s first financial system. By the third number, My Shot, Hamilton is portrayed as a driven young man living in 18th century America. He is ‘young, hungry and scrappy’ just like the country he helps to establish. It is this effective delivery of lines through rap that intentionally matches the non-stop pace of the man himself.
The stage production introduces the world to many notable names in American history. Audiences will be re-introduced to Aaron Burr, the Schuyler sisters, George Washington, Lafayette and King George III. Each manages to grace the stage and play their part to communicate this transformative period in history. Miranda has managed to recreate Hamilton’s world and transport his highs, lows, victories, and tragedies into our modern sensibilities and playlists. This visual spectacle proves to be both entertaining and emotional. One cannot help but draw parallels between our world and the one that Hamilton lived. The names in our history books belong to people who experienced love and loss just like us. They endured injustice and social issues that continue to reverberate through to our era. It gives us all pause while we are entertained to consider that there are lessons within this musical for us to heed. Thanks to Miranda’s re-imagining of the past, he has managed to make history great again.
Another element to consider is that Hamilton: An American Musical takes on new life again as a film. Thomas Kail and the production team deserves high praise for maximising all the potential that filmmaking offers that theatre perhaps cannot portray. Viewers are no longer restricted to one angle in their seats but are afforded a smorgasbord of views, close-ups, and crystal clear sound. You don't have to be a theatre buff to enjoy this musical adventure. If you enjoy a good story, Hamilton: An American Musical is ideally made for all to enjoy and you will be singing the tunes for days afterwards.
Reel Dialogue: How can one hope for a better future? (spoilers ahead)
Hamilton: An American Musical credits Eliza Hamilton (wife of Alexander Hamilton) as the one who managed to preserve the legacy of her husband. She is a portrait of a forgiving wife who continues to tell the story of her husband even as she grieves his death. Eliza is a fascinating woman in her own right. She is credited with the establishment of the first orphanage in New York. And she proves that it is possible to rise above the sufferings of life for the betterment of society.
As we look around at our moment in history, we wonder whether it is even possible to create change when natural disasters rage on amidst a global pandemic. What motivates us to want to create a better future for the next generation? What underlying beliefs sustain us to want to do good for those who cannot repay us? It seems this moment in history is rife with opportunity, just as it was in 18th century America.
One element of Rob Chernow’s biography that is not portrayed in the stage production was that both Alexander and Eliza Hamilton were professing Christians. Perhaps the truths of the Bible shaped their pursuits to serve those with less than themselves. At the very least, it gave them the language to build a better future for the country and the world.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25: 37-40