Recently many of the original Broadway cast of Hamilton: An American Musical have had their contracts end, leaving the show to a new cast. In a little less than a year Hamilton has taken the world by storm for its creativity, originality and brilliance.
In case you didn’t know, Hamilton is a telling of the creation of our nation, and specifically of founding father Alexander Hamilton, told in the style of hip hop and rap musical numbers. The man behind the musical and portrayer of Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda, began working on this musical almost 8 years ago, and when it made its Broadway debut in August of 2015 it created unprecedented effects. The box office sold tickets at an exponential rate and its reviews were nothing short of genius.
So what does make this show so special? What can be attributed for its success?
Part of the reason is that everyone can relate to the story. We all know the stories of America’s history, but seeing it portrayed in a way like this is something so outlandish it somehow works. Seeing cabinet meetings told in the style of a rap battle is something so ingenious it can’t help but attract audiences far and wide. When Miranda announced what he was working on to President Barack Obama, the first family couldn’t help but laugh, but when Miranda sang the opening number, Alexander Hamilton, the laughing quickly ended. In a mere matter of minutes Miranda manages to tell a story of Hamilton’s childhood and adult life in a style like no other. Hearing these songs tell the history of our nation can’t help but bring out a sense of patriotism and awe at how incredibly difficult it was to build our nation.
It's unique cast helped send this film into the spotlight. The cast is predominantly played by POC (People of Color) representing Black, Hispanic and other cultures. To some this came as a shock, the idea of minorities playing white historical figures was too absurd for certain people to handle. But seeing as our country was built off of these minorities, it finally gives them a voice to tell the story of our amazing country. It gives POC an opportunity to play roles they normally wouldn’t have, allowing them to break from typical social constructs into something new and exciting. Sadly some people don’t agree with this, but fortunately most people support this progressive twist on our history.
However, in my opinion, the most important reason for its success is the ingenious of it all. Lin Manuel Miranda created something that can’t be put into words, but I can try my best. The lyrics flow from phrase to phrase rhyming words like “Socrates and mediocrities." The words are witty and intelligent making references to things such as Icarus, Macbeth and more. He also makes references to major influential rappers such as Biggie. The telling of our history in such a fresh way with a brilliant cast (did I mention they have the fastest rapper on Broadway, Daveed Diggs??) form together to make a masterpiece that will surely live on for decades and decades.
Hamilton was something that no one expected, but it turned out to be something we needed. It sparked conversation, a new interest in our own history, and spawned talent from new up-and-coming performers. The entire musical from the cast, crew, pit, choreography, lighting, costumes and more are brilliant, and are creating something we’ve never seen before.
It’s no wonder they won 11 Tony Awards.
Lead Image Credit: Travis Wise via Flick Creative Commons