I remember when Hamilton hit it big. Everyone was talking about it, they gushed about the music, the cast, but despite all that I never really checked out the music. Why? I don’t know, I guess I wanted to see it. I figured the music wouldn’t resonate as much if I had no frame of reference. I wanted to see the musical so then the music would dredge up my memories of the musical. Thanks to Disney+ I got the chance to finally experience it.
While I learned about one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, I also learned what a book musical is. It’s the music, lyrics, and book of a musical. The book here refers to the script, meaning the story, character development, dramatic structure, dialogues and stage directions – I guess it’s obvious now that I’m no Muscial Theatre nerd.
Hamilton is for many associated with Lin Manuel-Miranda (Mary Poppins Return), who wrote the book musical, but little did I know that it was inspired by the biography “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. I heard the cast was awesome but I didn’t expect to know any of them and I was wrong – for some of them I didn’t know they could sing. Obviously, I got to know most of them after the musical became a sensation, I just didn’t know that it was their big break.
Filmed live on Broadway from the Richard Rodgers Theatre with the original Broadway cast Phillipa Soo (The Code), Leslie Odom Jr. (Murder on the Orient Express), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Altered Carbon), Chris Jackson (Bull), Daveed Diggs (Snowpiercer), Okieriete Onaodowan (Station 19), Anthony Ramos (A Star Is Born), Jasmine Cephas Jones (Mrs. Fletcher), Sydney James Harcourt (Tell Me A Story), Ephraim Sykes (Vinyl), and Jonathan Groff (Frozen, Glee).
Premise: The real life of one of America’s foremost founding fathers and first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.
Review: Going in I knew Hamilton: The Musical was two hours and forty minutes long. What I didn’t know, well most likely forgot, is that it’s in two acts, and that’s important. Not being a Musical Theatre aficionado the run time was daunting, but once I started I was kind of feeling it. I was totally engaged – I had to be – because this is a little dense. They sing the whole time, I mean the whole time. It feels like one long as song, with tons of information in lyrics that you don’t always understand. So I had to be “on” if I didn’t want to miss something. At some points of the first act it felt like they were lip-syncing, or as if they put the audio of one performance on the images of another, the sound mixing looked off.
By the time the intermission came, it was like a slapped to my face, because like I mentioned I forgot about it so I thought that it was the end of the musical. I was mildly entertain by what I saw and was ready to move on. It legit made me sweat when I realize I had over an hour to go.
The second act was truly a breath of fresh air. I felt like I learned more in that part then the first. There was a lot of variety in the songs, which were amazing, but I was captivated by what was going on, not because I could miss something important, I was just entertained. I also appreciated that they didn’t sanitize the more questionable aspects of the story. It got me to like the cast even more. I was looking at the performances and soaking in the history.
Hamilton is worth the watch it’s crescendo with the first act feels like a intro that’s running a little long but once you’re in the thick of it, it’s fun, and clever.
You can get the book this is based on here