Hamilton

July 9, 2020

I have finally experienced the phenomenon that is Hamilton in its current accessible form.

Much like with The Book of Mormon, I went on lockdown on this one.  I love musicals and feel strongly that the music ought to be experienced in context, so I never listened to the soundtrack, even when tickets were impossible to get. (With the exception, of course, of Weird Al’s glorious Hamilton Polka. Weird Al is an early god of mine and continues to be so.) I wanted to see the characters sing the music first. I wanted the staging to go with it.

My take:  It’s great, it’s powerful. It’s not quite what I expected — the first act is almost entirely exposition, an operetta that breathlessly slides through a huge chunk of Revolutionary history. It’s really great seeing this take on the founding fathers. And then, the last quarter gets incredibly personal and I cried a lot and maybe it’s just as well I was on the sofa with a box of tissues for this and not in a public theater.

A lot’s been made of the musical’s use of rap and hip hop. But it’s also very much rooted in traditional musical theater. It’s a true fusion, which is why I think audiences respond so much to the energy. I really, really want to get my hands on an annotated version, because there are a ton of allusions from both worlds. I get the musical theater ones (“You have to be carefully taught…”) but I’m not so up on the hip hop, and the cuts and samples and so forth that Miranda makes use of. This is a collage, and I can’t always see the seams, which is great.

I will see this live someday. While seeing the movie is great, film versions of musicals always leave things out — there’s always something going on elsewhere on stage, and the big picture gets reduced. I really want to see more of the choreography and ensemble work, which the film necessarily leaves out sometimes because it’s in the background. (In my high school theater days, I was a ubiquitous member of the chorus. I would have killed to be in the chorus of Hamilton.)

We will have live theater again someday, somehow.

 

3 Responses to “Hamilton”

  1. Sean Eric Fagan Says:

    For an annotated version, the genius.com lyrics contain many annotations. Including some from Linn-Manuel Miranda.

  2. lexica510 Says:

    The “Hamilton: The Revolution” book by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy Carter has pretty extensive marginal notes.

  3. Karen Ulric Says:

    Also excellent for annotations is the book Miranda released – with lots of Mirada’s notes, and annotations on the lyrics
    ,https://www.amazon.com/dp/1455539740/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_Hh6bFbBR32JWW


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