How does a writer, actor, son of a doc and a consultant, dropped in the middle of the Latino neighborhood of Inwood, born of Puerto Rican descent from his pop, grow up and write a man who was nonstop?
Lin-Manuel Miranda first introduced the idea of Hamilton, a musical about the founding father Alexander Hamilton, at the White House in front of President Barack Obama. What he rapped was the beginnings of the show’s opening song, Alexander Hamilton.
The musical takes us through the life of Alexander Hamilton and his mark on America, from meeting the man who would one day kill him (Aaron Burr, Sir) to finally having his fatal duel with his first friend (The World Was Wide Enough). Hamilton was a poor Caribbean immigrant who came to America to make a difference and fight in the American Revolution. He made friends and enemies, people who loved him and hated him, becoming the first Secretary of Treasury.
The first act talks about the American Revolutionary War, where he meets the Schuyler sisters Angelica, Peggy, and his wife Eliza, along with Aaron Burr, George Washington, John Laurens, Hercules Mulligan, and Lafayette. Act 2 focuses on his political career, fighting with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, while raising his son Philip (and six other children but we don’t talk about them).
The musical immediately draws you into the life of this determined young man, who was as human as could be. The musical didn’t sugar coat any details about the man, doing a full song about his torrid affair which he then published in the Reynolds Pamphlet (Say No To This, The Reynolds Pamphlet).
Every character has good and bad traits, some understandable, some not. Even Jefferson, portrayed as an antagonist to Hamilton’s career, has a relatable moral code he does not compromise. Burr, who tells the audience in the very beginning of the musical that he would kill Hamilton, at first seems like you won’t like him. But as you progress through the story, you find that he was a man as well. You actually care for him, as well as everyone else in the cast.
The lyrics were expertly crafted together, introducing rap to the musical world. In average musicals, characters who sing at the speed of songs such as Guns and Ships would be considered insane. The speed is the heart of the nonstop soldiers of Act 1. The style of music introduces a new world to musical theater.
Now, don’t go thinking that this is all gloom or all action. It is about 50/50, shifting between politics and personal struggle. While Act 1 is nonstop, filled with love, determined soldiers, and freedom, Act 2 tears out your heart and smashes it to the ground. Especially the end. (SPOILERS) Philip and Hamilton both die, leaving Eliza to tell their stories.
Some songs that make up the musical dont hold as much weight, used more for information (Schuyler Defeated, The Adams Administration, I Know Him, etc) while others are turning points of emotion, story, and characters that everyone adores (Satified, Wait For It, The Room Where It Happens, etc).
While sadly the tickets are so expensive you can probably never see the show live, we have the soundtrack to give us the entire story. Plus, Lin-Manuel has said he’s going to work on a live action version of Hamilton.
Sadly, Hamilton the Movie is for another time.