Super Space Chick

Tea & Broadway Chat: Hamilton

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamilton on Broadway and I’ve been singing and humming the music ever since.  I feel a little late to the hype train since the show opened Off-Broadway back in February of 2015 (it re-opened ON Broadway this past August) but I wanted to add my voice nonetheless in case there is some strange reason why you haven’t heard about the historical rap musical turned phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation.  The show chronicles Alexander Hamilton’s life, focusing on his time in New York and his contribution to the formation of our nation, and it’s inspired by the biography written by historian Ron Chernow which has now been added to my TBR list.  The show is really something special and while your brain’s intrigue quadrant may switch off when you hear it described as a historical rap musical (like mine had initially), I would urge you to give Hamilton a shot anyway because the show really strikes a chord.  I can’t wait to see Hamilton win every last Tony award it qualifies for come 2016.

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There really isn’t one specific element that can take all of the credit for making Hamilton everything that it is but rather it’s the harmonious combination of everything that works in its favor.  One of the most notable aspects of the show is the diverse cast.  Instead of casting the Founding Fathers as middle aged white men, Lin cast hispanic and black men in their roles and he gave a much stronger voice to the women of the time as well.  In fact, the only middle aged white man in the show is King George who’s musical contributions sound akin to The Beatles which provides a nice contrast between the old ideas of government and the progressive new views in America.  King George is a very silly character and his mannerisms lend comic relief in an otherwise stressful, tense and sad story.  The main characters in Act I are Hamilton, Burr, LaFayette, Mulligan, Laurens, Washington and the Schuyler sisters Angelica and Eliza (who becomes Hamilton’s wife).  Act II trades LaFayette and Mulligan for Jefferson and Madison, who are played by the same actors respectively.

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The first act of the show is full of hope and excitement while the Revolutionaries are plotting to win the war against England and perpetuate momentum for the United States citizens who think they’re fighting a losing battle.  My favorite song from this act is “My Shot” sung by Hamilton, Burr, Laurens, Lafayette and Mulligan.  It’s about seizing any opportunity that arises and not giving up your shot to change things no matter what the cost may be.  Another favorite line which perfectly captures the sentiment of Act I is “look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”  It first is heard in The Schuyler Sisters song and is repeated several times throughout the show.  It’s so perfect! I can’t think of anything more exciting than living in Manhattan and laying the groundwork for a new free nation.

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Once Act I comes to an end and the American’s have won the war, things seem to be in a really good place.  Then comes Act II which basically rips your heart out.  Alexander spends the majority of this act writing like he’s running out of time to create the Federal Reserve system, opposing Thomas Jefferson and everything he stands for, being unfaithful to his wife and then self sabotaging himself by writing the Reynolds Pamphlet in an effort to uphold his legacy despite it ruining his chances of ever being President, and getting into further disputes with Aaron Burr culminating in the fatal duel between the pair which ultimately causes Burr to be remembered for killing Hamilton.  My three favorite songs from Act II are “The Room Where it Happens,” a catchy number performed primarily by Burr about wanting to be involved in the most pivotal moments in history, “Hurricane,” performed by Alexander Hamilton which leads to the Reynolds Pamphlet and most of all, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” performed by the remaining members of the show but focuses on Eliza.  Once Hamilton has been killed, it’s up to her to tell his story and despite writing herself out of the narrative for a while after Hamilton admitted to being unfaithful, Eliza lives for an additional 50 years.  She spends that time interviewing every soldier who Hamilton worked with, reading and sifting through years of his writings, speaking out against slavery and establishing the first private orphanage in New York City.

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The stage setup for Hamilton seems rather simple at first glance.  It’s very wooden and there are minimal props throughout the show but there is a spinning turntable in the center of the stage which enhances many of the numbers.  One of the best uses of the turntable is during the duel scenes.  The characters explain the stages of a duel and they rotate around the stage in a clockwise motion until they get to the final stage.  The turntable also looks beautiful during the aforementioned “Hurricane” in which the stage is lit to look like the eye of a storm.  I also love the costumes the characters wear during the show.  The girls looks lovely in their ballgown style dresses and the men don uniforms during Act I while in Act II they switch into to ensembles more similar to what we would recognize from old history books and paintings.  I really enjoy Hamilton’s rich green satin coat and ruffle front blouse.  It’s so entertaining to witness the juxtaposition of such modern music to old fashioned clothing on the late 1700-1800’s.

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I would honestly love to see an entire play about Eliza and Angelica and their roles in the revolution so I’m thankful that Lin gave them such a strong voice in Hamilton.  It’s a great reminder that there are a ton of people who were involved that don’t always get the credit they deserve in U.S. history textbooks.  I struggled a lot with history throughout school, always finding it boring, and I wish there would have been more resources like Hamilton to have turned to because my interest level would’ve sparked.  Obviously, the founding of our nation is important and interesting but it wasn’t until Lin filled in the blanks with his take on their personal narratives that I truly felt invested in and more connected to that time.  I tweeted it the other day and it absolutely stands true, if I could somehow get in contact with high school me and tell her how obsessed I would become with a historical rap musical about Alexander Hamilton I would assume future me had gone crazy somewhere along the way.  The entire show is a musical so it’s easy to follow along with the soundtrack at home if getting to NYC is unreasonable for you.  I know I’ll be listening to this for years to come and I really hope I’ve convinced you to give Hamilton a shot.

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If you’ve seen Hamilton and have any thoughts on it or just want to gush about it together PLEASE contact me because I literally want to talk about it with EVERY ONE but sadly I don’t know that many people who have seen it.
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9 Responses to “Tea & Broadway Chat: Hamilton”

  1. AgentAnnya says:

    Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this. It sounds amazing though and it’ll be on my top watch list if it ever comes to Florida. It’s funny though ’cause I wasn’t much into history either and it wasn’t until I saw the musical based film, 1776, as a kid that I was finally intrigued. I think it’s part of why I love American history so much now.

  2. Alexa S. says:

    Hamilton sounds fantastic! I was wary of it initially, but the more I hear about it, the more I want to see it for myself. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Kristin!
    Alexa S. recently posted…Flip A Coin • Rules for 50/50 ChancesMy Profile

  3. I’ve been seeing Hamilton stuff EVERYWHERE. I can’t wait for this show to go on tour, I HAVE to see it!!! The soundtrack is so amazing, and the idea behind the show is so creative, I just love it!
    Kendall Ashley recently posted…It’s Totally a Real Job: Geek Girl Brunch FoundersMy Profile

  4. Rachel says:

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it! I’m dying to get back up there to see it!

  5. […] Lazy Sundays ? Movie theaters with reclining leather armchairs ? My Canon Rebel T3I ? HAMILTON on Broadway ? Disney Couture De Force Masquerade Statues ? Winter by Marissa Meyer ? […]

  6. […] The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter!  I was lucky enough to experience Hamilton in person last year and since then, it’s steadily become an obsession of mine.  The […]

  7. Verushka says:

    Gah, this review makes me want to see it even more!
    Verushka recently posted…WOW: Comfort ZoneMy Profile

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