Hamilton sets out and succeeds in exactly what it wants to do—recap the fascinating story of an American Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, in a fashion so deliberately unforeseen that it’ll come off as a decade-defining landmark for live Broadway musicals. It’s the event that’ll have political grumps like Mr. “rap isn’t real music” Shapiro infuriated by its ingenious amalgamation of ballad and contemporary R&B, not to mention its diverse casting.
It’s sickening to know that some will argue race to neglect the talent behind the play’s intelligent casting choices: Daveed Diggs, lead performer of the enterprising experimental band Clipping., as both Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. Leslie Odom Jr. as Hamilton’s arch-nemesis, and quite the lawyer too, Aaron Burr. The passive Phillipa Soo as Hamilton’s main love interest. Chris Jackson, as the day-dreamiest interpretation of George Washington yet—*faint.* Jonathan Groff as the sassy and comical yet awfully terrible King George. RENÉE ESLIE FRIKIN’ GOLDSBERRY singing and rapping her heart out till the birds start crying of joy, as she encapsulates Hamilton’s forbidden affair. And, last but certainly not least, Lin-Manuel Miranda as the creator/writer and lead star of a production so outlandishly popular and likable that it had the purified ability to convert your generic high school band teacher and that classical orchestration connoisseur who despises the modern state of music into digging this unpredictable part of the modern hip-hop scene.
If our creative passage in the entertainment industry really has led us to shoving popcorn and M&Ms into our mouths while watching Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton perform an epic rap battle, then it frankly does seem like the possibility of musical ideas are around endless. The entire phenomenon of Hamilton is just a ticking time bomb that’s finally sailed off to inspire future stagings of genre chemical mixtures many would see unfathomable—at this point, it wouldn’t be a shocker if the story of RBG’s uprising was incorporated into a Charli XCX-type experimental pop exploitation sometime in the near future. Yowzers!
I’m sure that I’m not the first to say though that the emotional and dramatic beats of Hamilton do feel prosaic to a degree—remixing reality to fit with a cliché Shakespearean venture is one way for this yucky deed to prevail. Miranda rewrites these real-life characters to fit arcs that are narratively familiar yet unjustifiable to both the actual people they’re based on, as well as their fictional counterparts. I have objections to the structure of Hamilton, as well; whether it be running across the same catchy theme or character riff solely to fill up the length requirement, or time jumping in the most inconsiderate manner possible just to get to its next, big (but sometimes not even that big) thematic statement—well, how rude! If you’re not contextually informed of Alexander Hamilton’s existence, as well—assuming you never went to or don’t remember the basic beats of your middle or high school history lectures—then it should be incredibly easy for you to get befuddled in the rapid-fire scenarios that this play blows at us. Yet, if these barriers really do feather down the complicated nature of America’s upbringing and the translation’s qualitative value as a whole, so be it. It’s convivial, musical banter that’s inventive in execution and simple in education; nothing more, nothing less. It’s no Schindler’s List or Come and See, but it’s certainly got gusto—and just enough to make a Disney+ exclusive out of it.
Onto a more concerning topic, however, who’s to say that George Washington is allowed to be this sexy in an adaptation? These are the true questions that ponder me after watching Hamilton.
“Hamilton” is now available to stream on Disney+.