My Hamilton obsession is still going strong. I’m so happy that earlier this week Lin’s revolutionary musical broke records by getting 16 Tony nominations and I sincerely hope that they win each and every one. I had a slow year when it came to seeing Broadway shows last year (I usually see a ton but I think I only saw 3?) but Hamilton was among those and I feel so blessed that I had the opportunity to see it live. I’ve been trying to relive the experience ever since (ie. listening to the soundtrack non-stop & singing the songs and the shows praises to all who will listen) so when Lin’s Hamiltome debuted in April, I waited eagerly for the mailman to arrive each day and deliver my precious. Also in April, Jordandene’s shirt of the month was Hamilton themed so that was an insta-buy! The charcoal tank features a Schuyler sisters quote “Looking For A Mind At Work,” so I obviously had to strike a Schuyler sister pose for one of my photos. Unfortunately this shirt is no longer available, but Jordan’s shop is full of other treasures. If you enjoy representing your geeky side without sacrificing your style you’ll love all of her designs! I can’t even tell you how many others I own and I wear them ALL THE TIME. This month’s shirt is Kurt Vonnegut themed and Jordan also released a collab shirt with my 5 Fandom Friday co-creator Megan from The Nerdy Girlie!
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting. This week I’m choosing Hamilton: 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 upcoming book includes the full script of Hamilton along with over 200 funny, revealing footnotes written by Lin himself, and interviews with over 50 people involved in the production of the Broadway phenomenon. I will read anything and everything about this show and I highly doubt that I will ever get the soundtrack out of my head (not that I’d want to!).
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.
HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.
Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sondheim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by President Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot. (via Goodreads)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.