Before Wednesday, I thought Hamilton was over-hyped. (Hence, the title of my article on the Observer.) It feels like the entire world would not shut up about it.
A couple summers ago, I found myself trapped in a van full of theater nerds- as you do- and they decided to play the entire Hamilton soundtrack. They had the whole thing memorized front and back, every million-miles-a-minute spitfire rap line. And none of them had ever even seen the musical. Their passion came from simply streaming the music on Spotify, and I didn’t get it.
(All photos credited to: Joan Marcus)
Hamilton fanatics like these are found everywhere. They live among us. Maybe you see a t-shirt with the famous star logo, maybe you see a phone case with the “Schuyler sisters” in their iconic hoop skirt dresses. Maybe, like me, you tried to listen to the soundtrack and even Googled the musical and got even more confused. I even took a History of American Musical Theater class, and we spent a few weeks studying the musical and watching a documentary on it. And as an immigrant myself, I’m all for diversity, but what’s with black men playing some of the most famous slave owners in our history?
Confusing. It feels like everyone who likes Hamilton loves Hamilton.
Well, I need not bother you with a theater review, because I already did that. It’s on the Dallas Observer for your reading pleasure!
In the editing, however, some of my more political commentary got cut out. Which is fine, I just had a hard time trying to explain Hamilton without getting political. I mean, besides the fact that it’s about politicians, the production itself is an incredible statement.
I talked a little about it in my article:
Miranda’s script seems to perfectly juxtapose where we’ve been as a nation with where we are and where we could go. The cast of Hamilton is performing to audiences at what seems like a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Folded into an inspiring rags-to-riches story is the theme of immigration, carved into a romance plot line are nods to women’s rights.
But I would love to elaborate.
I’ve been thinking about diversity for the sake of diversity. Approaching this material, the story of the founding fathers of America, one has a very specific America in mind. Let’s face it, the historically accurate way to tell this story would be through white men. And let’s face it, a lot of them were slave owners. Talk about awkward. I’m all for inclusion and diversity, but as someone who usually likes historically accurate portrayals, I have to admit I was the slightest bit hesitant for the “why.”
But after I saw the musical, it was obvious. Every decision- the casting, the music style, it was all genius. And seeing all the pieces together the way it was meant to be seen, it all finally made so much sense to me.
As Lin Manuel Miranda has said, the musical is “the story of America then told by America now. It looks like America now,” according to CBS news.
It also looks like America now because much of the issues they are battling in the musical are issues we battle today. You have Hamilton and Lafayette representing immigrants and that infamous climb towards the American Dream, played by a hispanic and an african-american. Because though those two characters were white, they represent a demographic that is very racially diverse. And by looking like today’s immigrants we are able to connect with them in a way that we couldn’t with a historically accurate portrayal.
And it goes on and on. By watching the show, you are watching the story of our nation being built. And it makes one think, what nation are we building today? These are crazy times. It seems like left and right our nation is shifting and wobbling and being molded into- what, exactly?
This is the genius of Lin Manuel Miranda. Today’s political climate feels like new territory. How will he get the next voting generation to think about the nation that we will build, with the technology and advancements we are privileged to be equipped with? By connecting our nation’s beginning with our nation’s today, and asking about our nation’s tomorrow. All in a couple hours of Broadway hip hop.