Hamilton: An American Musical, popularly known as Hamilton, is a musical written in 2015 by Lin-Manuel Miranda about the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. The musical is innovative, with a variety of genres of music being used to portray the story, but with an emphasis on hip-hop and rap. The play is also notable because it portrays the Founding Fathers as people of color; indeed, the entire cast, with the exception of Samuel Seabury and King George III, is composed of people of color. It also received some controversy when the casting call was leaked and revealed that the play deliberately forbade any white people from playing any roles in the play. After hitting Broadway in 2015, the play became a national phenomenon. It recently began its fourth year at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (1,301 performances as of September 16, 2018). There are currently three other productions of Hamilton playing: one touring the U.S. and Canada, one at the CIBC Theatre in Chicago, and one at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London's West End. A 24-show run at the University of Puerto Rico, starring Miranda, is set to begin in January 2019.
Categorized as a "sung throughout" musical, the play is composed of almost entirely music. There is little dialogue between scenes, and, as a result, one can listen to the cast album and have a perfect idea of what is going on. Hamilton is not the first rap musical to hit Broadway.
While vacationing with his wife, Lin-Manuel Miranda picked up a copy of Alexander Hamilton's biography, written by Ron Chernow. Miranda read the book through, learned of Hamilton's story, and thought that it would be a fantastic story when told in a rap and hip-hop format. Writing would follow in the years afterward, and the final Broadway production would hit in 2015.
Hamilton is almost entirely historically accurate, with a few exceptions. That being said, it should be used in classrooms to help teach history, as it speaks to the younger generations and helps history to come alive.
Notable instances of historical inaccuracy follow:
- In the track We Know, Hamilton is accosted by Jefferson, Madison, and Burr; however, in reality, Hamilton is confronted about his financial discrepancies by James Monroe and Frederick Muhlenberg.
- Hamilton overstates Hamilton's dedication as an abolitionist and glosses over some of the policies that Hamilton proposed that favored the figurative 1%.
- In the track Satisfied, Angelica Schuyler complains that her 'only job is to marry rich', and the play portrays her as single and wanting to marry Hamilton. Historically, though, she was already married at the time, with Miranda saying he wanted to emphasize her role as the "dutiful eldest sister"
- In the track Blow Us All Away, the duel between Philip Hamilton and George Eacker is portrayed as happening before the election of 1800. This is incorrect, as the duel happened on November 24, 1801. In addition, the track has Eacker fire on the count of 7, like a dishonorable man. This is wrong, as both men refused to fire for over a minute before Eacker shot Philip.
- Burr is given a disproportionately large role in Hamilton's early life, but this is not the case in history. For example, Burr was not involved in the duel involving Laurens.
Hamilton is almost entirely historically accurate, helping to bring history to life, and is the story of an illegitimate child rising above the conditions he was born into become one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. It promotes hard work, loyalty, and persistence. Hamilton also appreciates a variety of musical genres, and does them all justice, leading to a greater appreciation for the styles of music shown.
Language is peppered throughout, with some of the large numbers having worse language. Hamilton cheats on his wife, leading to his public fall from grace. Jefferson is portrayed as the enemy of everything Hamilton is trying to accomplish and is portrayed as far off and elitist; in reality, Jefferson was for the people and more down-to-earth. Hercules Mulligan makes frequent use of sexual innuendo in the track Aaron Burr, Sir. Hamilton also brushes over the possible relationship between John Laurens and Hamilton himself.
Released on December 2, 2016, The Hamilton Mixtape features the original working title of the play and reworks, covers, and original content by various artists. Notable tracks include 'Wrote My Way Out', 'Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)', and 'My Shot'.
Adoption by Liberals
Largely because of the racial and ethnic diversity of the cast, Hamilton and its cultural significance have been somewhat adopted as an icon of liberalism. The audiences are largely liberal, as one would expect in New York City. There was much enthusiasm when President Obama and his daughters attended a showing. A book about the play, Hamilton: The Revolution, by Mr. Miranda, mentions this. Hard-leftist Disney CEO Bob Iger also cited the musical as his inspiration for initially attempting to manipulate President Donald Trump's advisory committee into promoting more left-wing values.
The Mike Pence appearance
In late November 2016 (after the election but before taking office) Vice-President-elect Mike Pence attended a performance. While there was some hostility from some in the audience, there were no significant problems. During a curtain call at the end, while Mr. Pence was starting to leave, a cast member read a statement to him. After urging the audience to be respectful, he said "Vice-President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at Hamilton: An American Musical ... [we] are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us ... But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us." The reception of the speech was quite friendly under the circumstances. Mr. Pence later said that he wasn't offended and enjoyed the musical, and he understood the message that was being given. About the occasional boos from audience members, he said that this was "what freedom sounds like".
- "Hamilton musical (2015)". All Musicals. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
- Warning: explicit track
- Warning: explicit track