Where was I when I first heard about Hamilton? I had heard a lot about it from a few of my coworkers, and they happen to have great taste in books, movies, TV shows, and all other forms of art—so I knew I ought to give it a try.
Turns out I’ve been listening to it non-stop. I’ve never been this obsessed with a musical, and Travis can attest to the fact that I listen to it on the daily. He hasn’t caught the bug like I have, but I’m willing to wait for it.
If you haven’t even heard about this Pulitzer Prize winning musical, or you’ve heard just a bit about it, let me offer you some free advice: learn more about it. If you’re already a fan, please share your favorite parts about the musical—I need someone to talk to about this!
1. Great Use of Race-bending & Potential Gender-bending
One of the first things you’ll hear about Hamilton is that the play is about Alexander Hamilton’s life infused with hip hop and rap music. This world comes to life with a cast of talented actors, singers, and dancers that take on big roles regardless of race. For example, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Marquis de Lafayette, James Madison, and more are portrayed by African Americans.
Why is this even important? For me, I admire that these people portray these historical figures well and race isn’t distracting. America is thought of as a Melting Pot, and the cast tell this great story in similar fashion. From a theater standpoint, it opens a lot of opportunities for everyone to have a shot for their talent, and not necessarily their skin tone.
As for gender-bending, it’s been rumored that they’ll gender-bend characters like George Washington and Aaron Burr, but still remains to be seen. To me, it’s just so cool; similar choices have been done for many different Shakespeare plays and it lends to fascinating results. I want to compel Miranda to include Founding Mothers in upcoming renditions of Hamilton. Still, the chorus features women as part of cabinet debates and the revolutionary army under Washington’s leadership.
2. Hamilton’s Story is Fairly Historically Accurate
Are you ready for the most interesting rendition of American history? Hamilton’s story is fascinating and inspiring enough that they didn’t have to add very much to the story to get people addicted to it. There are a few things that were tweaked to make the story engaging, but just about everything from historical dates, the opinions of the Founding Fathers, and past politics are pretty spot-on. Miranda was actually inspired to write this play 6 years ago after reading Hamilton’s biography.
If it’s been a while since you’ve learned about American history, this play isn’t that bad of a refresher. It certainly makes me feel smarter just listening.
3. You Can’t Help But Feel Super Patriotic and Politically Aware
I’m already pretty patriotic as it is; my dad served in the military, so I’m already there. But with the recent political campaigning and introduction of Hamilton, I’ve never felt more patriotic or concerned about politics.
How is this a thing? As a past English major, I have a degree in looking for parallels, metaphors, and everything else between the lines. My brain started making interesting connections after listening to the two Cabinet Battle songs—two rap battle debates between Jefferson and Hamilton. The first song has a debate about state vs. national debt and how to handle financial issues, and the second debate was whether or not America should be neutral while France was fighting for their independence. War, money, government power . . . they’re things that we still debate about today. It makes me think harder about what current decisions are constitutional or not.
If you don’t believe me on the history hype, just you wait: many kids are finding interest and connection with our history through the lyrics of this musical.
4. Deep Plot Ideas & Lyrics Stay With You
Maybe this is old news to those who are already in love with other plays or musicals, but Hamilton has been the first musical to really impact my everyday thinking. Like, I am obsessed; I will never be satisfied until I see it in-person! Ask poor Travis. I can find just about any outlet to insert a line or lyric. Why so obsessed? The major ideas of the play are really important for me as a writer and as a human. Here are some examples.
- “History has its eyes on you”—All the good things and bad things you do is a part of your legacy. Someone will remember you for certain choices you make. Knowing that, how do you want to be remembered?
- “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story”—When I hear this line, I think about we’re honoring sacrifices of the past by learning peoples’ stories. This musical helps remind me that even though these characters died a long time ago, they were real people and did real things to build America and my future.
- “I’m willing to wait for it”—Looking back at what the Founding Fathers accomplished, they had success because they took the chance to establish their beliefs and act on them. Playing it safe is not how history is made. It reminds me that my dreams require a leap of faith, rather than a safe bridge if I want to actually reach them.
- “That would be enough/he will never be satisfied”—Other characters in the musical tell Hamilton to slow down, take a break, or just be content with his life. He’s an extraordinary person in history, and we’re grateful that he didn’t slow down or sit on the sidelines. Often I wonder if “being content” is good or not. Hamilton gained and lost respect by not being content; he rose above his station to work closely with Washington, but also tarnished his reputation through an affair. We have to decide when to speed up or slow down in order to make a difference in the world. This will always be up for debate.
So those are some major reasons why I’m so in love with this musical and it’s all I’ve been listening to for 2 weeks. Do you love it or feeling “nah” about it?