There’s always something about watching a piece of art depicting the lives of revolutionaries who drive a country to its freedom. And having the life of one of America’s founding fathers translated into a musical during the weekend of Fourth of July is even more thrilling. The tale is of the past but perhaps questions the country and its people on the principles it stood on when it was founded – where do those stand now? This may be much needed in times of unfathomable crises that it deals with today.
Lin-Manuel Miranda performs one of the numbers in the beginning called My shot – an incredibly powerful hip-hop style performance that sets a vital tone for the musical throughout. There’s a line within that which calls out the British for its colonial rule and is a powerful call for America to become the ‘United States’ that it became later. Perhaps the idea of revolution against the British has almost a global appeal, which is enough to get someone who has not watched a Broadway musical hooked on to this one. Hamilton is described as a cultural phenomenon in the United States of America and rightly so because needs to be viewed worldwide for its audacity of hope expressed through art.
Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the Treasury and an architect of the American banking system, and one of the founding fathers had a painful childhood and travelled to America from the Caribbean to study but later becoming one of the most powerful figures in the country. American history has been retold in a musical – a thoroughly entertaining and colourful one. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s belief in Hamilton as a person is so deep that it manifested into this larger-than-life work of art.
Hamilton premiered at the Public Theater in early 2015 before moving to Broadway. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the music, book and lyrics, becomes his character with such precision that it would be hard to dissociate him from Hamilton as a character for a long, long time. Filmed by director, Thomas Kail, and the cinematographer Declan Quinn in the Richard Rodgers Theater in June 2016, in front of a live audience. This is a blessing for lovers of theatre and musicals.
The cast is a dedication to inclusiveness. It has Latino and black cast members being cast as other founding fathers of America – a gesture of inclusiveness that the world needs to take cues from. Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, and Leslie Odom Jr. as Hamilton’s both friend and nemesis Aaron Burr are so fine, that at time the close-up shots of their faces are as though looking through a glass at the character. Even a gentle twitch of the brow acts as a cue to evoke the best performance out of the fellow cast members.
The Shuyler sisters played by Renée Elise Goldsberry, Philipa Soo and Jasmine Cephas Jones are a pure delight to watch and listen to - especially Golsberry's Satisfied. It is refreshing to see the actors portray historical characters with such unhindered spunk, the song gets stuck in your head and you want to actually keep that as one of the uppers on your playlist. The choreographic precision is so on point the entire film almost feels surreal as the cast dances their way through most important chapters in American history.
Lin Manuel-Miranda’s theatrical magnum opus connects the most due to its sense of optimism. It’s not just the performances that stir emotions within or the songs that reference literature and music – it is the narrative, that is not a documentary of the man per se, but speaks of his optimism to break the wheel and see a new world of freedom. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s conviction in the story and its characters shows in each of the cast –especially Leslie Odom Jr’s Aaron Burr who sings ‘Wait For It’ which brings goosebumps watching it on screen – imagine watching it live.
Disney Plus’ Hamilton is 162 minutes of endless flow energy that tells stories of scandal, politics, rivalry and above all – the sheer human will that will go as far as it can for freedom. Alexander Hamilton became the founding father of America going from rags to riches with his will, talent, tenacity and determination – traits that drive revolutions, free countries and move mountains. Book your front row seats, and ‘Raise a glass to freedom’ with Lin-Manuel Miranda because while history may or may not repeat itself, experiences of a watching a Broadway musical at home does not happen a lot.
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