Lin Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece, Hamilton, expertly weaves hip-hop and theater together as one. In telling Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s curiously complicated story, Miranda is merely highlighting an immigrant story shared, in many respects, by millions across our nation. And by doing so, he broke the tightly-sealed insular walls that incarcerate Broadway as a thing only the majority create and participate in.
“It’s tells the stories of two revolutions,” writes Jeremy McCarter in Hamilton: The Revolution. “There’s the American Revolution of the 18th century, which flares to life in Lin’s libretto…There’s also the revolution of the show itself: a musical that changes the way that Broadway sounds, that alters who gets to tell the story of our founding fathers, that lets us glimpse the new, more diverse America rushing our way.”
On Saturday (July 30), the sidewalks along NYC’s Richard Rodgers Theater on 46th street were flooded with pedestrians waiting in line to see this cultural phenomenon. The experience meant a lot to me because it marked my first time ever seeing a Broadway play, and knowing that it was created by someone of my culture, one historically disallowed from the mainstream, made it even more special.
Here are seven key takeaways from the musical…
A look Into King George’s Toxic Thought Process
While Lin Manuel’s interpretation of King George might be a bit fictional and orchestrated, but it’s still incredibly entertaining. Awesomely played by Rory O’Malley, you’ll discover how the British ruler’s mind might have worked, centuries ago, when the revolution was happening. It’s a great educational mechanism to teach us about The Revolution and the people involved, in a far more interesting way than just plain textbook vernacular. At some point, you’ll see O’Malley do the impression with a poppy, flamboyant British accent, conveying the pull Great Britain had on the original 13 colonies. “You say the price of my love is not a price that you’re willing to pay,” he chants, adding on sly remarks like, “Why so sad? Remember we made an arrangement when you went away, now you’re making me mad.”
Fun, Varied Costumes
One thing that definitely stood out was the Victorian style wardrobe used for the show. It was a visual delicacy made up of many pastel colors, ruffles, white stocking-like socks paired with black shoes and seemingly comfortable pants. Amid the historical garb, many of the dancers in the show had more modern articles of clothing (think khaki-colored, tight-fitting pants) that, to me, symbolized Miranda bridging the old and new—especially by having the women wear them.
The Diversity Of The Cast
You probably already know this, but Miranda did an amazing job of recruiting a slew of faces of color for his play. It was so refreshing to see roles like that of George Washington played by a black actor (Christopher Jackson) or even Hamilton himself, which was played by Miranda and now Javier Muñoz—two men of Puerto Rican decent. After all, it’s Lin’s world, and anything goes. Hollywood: take notes.
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Stunts And Choreography
Besides the acting and catchy music, the dancing, movement and stunts made the show all the more captivating. You couldn’t help but have your eyes glued to the stage. The dancing, of course, also had its hip hop flare. During Act III, Aaron Burr (played by Sydney James Harcourt) makes a highflying leap over a table, a millisecond right after a red table cloth is pulled to the side from atop of it. The synchronicity of it is flawless.
Meaningful, Clever & Culturally Relevant Double Entendres
Within the context of Hamilton’s story there were a slew of slick lines added into the mix, which merely describe people of color’s experiences in a white-dominated society. With suggestive lines like “Immigrants—we get the job done” and “Being in the room where it happens,” how could someone not think this is addressing something broader than Hamilton’s story. It’s by far one of my favorite things of the play. How well Miranda executed these important concepts into a storyline, where we don’t always see ourselves in, is pure genius. It’s definitely time we all let everyone know. We’re here, we’re talented and hardworking, which means we should also be exactly in “the room where it happens.” And by that we mean where important decisions are made, so we can make a change.
The Hip-Hop In Hamilton
We all know hip-hop was in Hamilton, but in seeing the show, I got to see exactly how hip-hop Miranda’s play is. During Hamilton and Burr’s confrontation on the cliff in Weehawken, Miranda got the idea to execute and describe the scene using Biggie’s “Ten Crack Commandments” song as a sample to describe what’s happening. This all transpired during the second act’s climax. In addition to Biggie, Miranda also incorporated Mobb Deep and Ja Rule in the play. How dope is that?
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Incredible Business Savvy
As the theater emptied out with enamored play enthusiasts conversing and raving about how great Hamilton is, a slew of them flooded to the souvenir stand. Anything purchased with Miranda’s Hamilton stamp on it, of course makes him money. It’s not only powerful, but very inspiring to think that a Puerto Rican kid from Uptown, Manhattan can create his own play, stars in it, recruit people like him to play his carefully envisioned characters, and sell his own merchandise. Definitely #goals.