When the film “Hamilton” hits Disney + on Friday at midnight, it will be more than just another streaming service debut. For many dedicated fans of the highly successful show – whether they’ve ever seen a live performance or they just gave themselves over and over again to listen of the best-selling cast album of all time – it’s a moment they’ve been waiting for years.
And yet, many others – perhaps even you, the person reading this article right now – have no personal interest in the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who won 16 Tony nominations in 2016. And has no idea why it is such a phenomenon. And I really don’t want to read more than one story to find the answer to this question: “Hamilton” is really is the hype worth?
The short answer is yes.
With the original Broadway cast in tow, it is already worth celebrating that this filmed version of “Hamilton” – which set a record for the highest average ticket on Broadway – will always accessible as part of a $ 7 monthly streaming subscription, ready for screening and re-screening, at any time. The moment is particularly special, as all “Hamilton” productions around the world, along with countless other theater venues, have darkened to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Hamilton” is “the story about America then, as America tells it now”, as Miranda repeatedly described.
But for those who need more convincing, there are several reasons why “Hamilton” won all that hype in the five years or so since its Broadway debut. The plot, essentially the origin story of the United States of America, is nothing new; covers well-known historical events – emerging victorious from the Revolutionary War, establishing the US Treasury and writing documents like the Federalist Papers – which are fundamental to this country.
At the center of it all was Alexander Hamilton, who was born in the Caribbean and died at a relatively young age, compared to his contemporaries George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr – who are also characters in the film. Show.
what is new is the way in which the composer and songwriter Miranda conceived the program as a “story about America, as it is told by America now”. Founding Fathers are played by black and brown actors, communities that do not see themselves reflected enough in American history or on Broadway stages.
And they play songs that sound like the pop, hip-hop and rap hits of the 21st century that we love, songs that are also effective in scope and layered in subtext. These musical numbers are both timely and timeless, speaking of events on stage and events that take place in today’s world.
Christopher Jackson plays George Washington in “Hamilton”.
“Hamilton” won 11 Tonys, a Grammy, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a litany of other prizes. One reason for this is that it not only tells the story of these important historical figures, it also humanizes and universalizes them in a way that our books never did.
She deals with this very familiar existential crisis: the attempt to build something that surpasses her whole life, to make the most of her time on this earth with the skills you have and the opportunities ahead of you. Your ambition can be both a blessing and a curse; his livelihood a pawn in a political game; his potential kneeled at any moment, even alone. All of this is in flux and in focus, while the characters experience love and friendship, jealousy and loss, just like the rest of us.
This in itself is very important when watching for the first time. Perhaps the most important thing for all newcomers to “Hamilton” to know: release any pressure to process everything immediately – it is an impossible task. It is a sung show, which means that all the “lines” and dialogues are presented in the song – a complicated listening for those who are not very used to watching musicals. It’s this one is remarkably dense with its lyrics, with a particularly fast rap typing 19 words in three seconds.
In addition, there are quite some characters, some of whom played by actors who switch roles during the break: Daveed Diggs plays Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Okieriete Onaodowan plays Hercules Mulligan and James Madison, Anthony Ramos plays John Laurens and Philip Hamilton and Jasmine Cephas Jones plays Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds.
Watch “Hamilton” for the first time in the same way that you would watch any other movie for the first time: to understand the plot, have fun with the show and experience the emotion. As it is being broadcast, you can press the pause button whenever you need another minute to digest what you saw or get clarification on what is happening. The movie break lasts only a minute, but feel free to stretch it to the usual 15 live shows, if necessary.
Then you can be free to watch again with the specificity of the narrative in mind: the accuracy of the set in the execution of a dynamic choreography, the tacit poetry of the lighting design, the commentary of the lyrics about women and people of color, before and now.
Skip to specific songs. Sing along with catchy choruses. Stop to look openmouthed. How lucky we are to be alive at a time when the movie “Hamilton” will always be there, waiting for our screening.
The film “Hamilton” features the entire original Broadway cast.