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Hamilton: A Revolutionary Take on History
How does a hip-hop musical about the bastard, orphan, immigrant Founding Father of America become a major success, winning 11 Tony Awards and global acclaim? Well, for starters, it was written by lyrical genius Lin Manuel Miranda, director Tom Kail, and music director Alex Lacamoire.
Hamilton: An American Musical details the life of Alexander Hamilton, who most people would only recognise as the face on the ten dollar bill. The idea the founding fathers using modern language and engaging in rap battles is certainly a novel one, but one that evidently resonated with people all over the world.
Part of what makes Hamilton so revolutionary is the decision to have an almost entirely non-white cast. Miranda’s intention was to represent America as it is today, and for a Puerto-Rican American, diversity is extremely important to him. The show gives actors of color a chance to play prominent historical figures in a way that's accessible and relatable to a modern audience.
Hamilton teaches the younger generation about America’s history using language and music that they feel connected to. The facts are not 100% accurate, but it's a great entry point into history that is aimed towards millennials but never feels like it's trying too hard to be “cool”.
The music consists of 46 tracks, comprised of a mixture of styles including hip-hop, rap, jazz, R&B, dancehall, and ballad, all interspersed with elements of showtune. The soundtrack is a piece of genius in itself - several lead characters have their own musical themes and chord progressions, and each song flows perfectly into the next.
Every lyrics is carefully thought-out, foreshadowing the rest of the show or establishing relationships between characters. Individual characters have their own style of music to match their personalities - from Hamilton’s face-paced rapping to Jefferson’s slow, jazzy tunes, each character has a distinct presence.
Hamilton takes its audience on an emotional journey that is mostly due to the unexpectedly vulnerable soundtracks. Show-stoppers like “My Shot”, “The Schuyler Sisters” and “Non-Stop” get the audience pumped up, while numbers like “Dear Theodosia”, “Burn”, “It’s Quiet Uptown” and “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” reduces them to tears. The soundtrack portrays a full range of human emotions, from truly hilarious numbers to heartbreaking ballads and everything in between.
Even if you’re not interested in hip-hop, it’s hard to dislike this show. The harmonies and overlapping lines created compelling melodies that are perfectly matched to their poignant lyrics. It’s such a carefully constructed piece that takes the laughable concept of a historical hip-hop musical and turns it into a rich and musically diverse piece that breathes new life into centuries-old stories.
Hamilton is more than an amazing soundtrack - it’s a visual wonder onstage. Much like its music, each movement is symbolic and purposeful. There’s no improvisation from the ensemble and every step is memorised so well, they even perform part of a song in reverse. While the choreography sometimes takes the form of conventional dancing, it’s also used to represent marching, battles, duels, and even a play within the performance itself.
The ensemble are incredibly versatile. The costumes of the lead characters are colorful and defined, but the ensemble wear white, and rarely don a full costume. This allows them to represent any character they need, whether it be a soldier, politician, or a member of the public. The amount of energy required in this performance is incredible, but the ensemble members make it look easy. This, combined with their backup vocals, makes them the backbones of Hamilton.
The double-casting of characters in Hamilton is another example of the demands put on the actors, but it’s a challenge they overcome brilliantly. Four actors change characters from Act 1 to Act 2 - Hamilton’s sweet sister-in-law Peggy Schuyler becomes the seductive Maria Reynolds; the rambunctious Hercules Mulligan transforms into the stern wallflower James Mulligan; French revolutionary Lafayette becomes Hamilton’s nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, and Hamilton’s closest friend, John Laurens, becomes his son Philip Hamilton. The way these actors manage to play both their characters so distinctly is amazing to watch.
The costumes worn by the lead characters show their development - in the opening number, the entire cast wears white save Aaron Burr, who wears a wine-red coat, symbolising the blood on his hands that he has already foreshadowed. Jefferson’s flashy magenta suit alludes to his hubris, and Maria’s red dress represents temptation.
Individual characters changing their costumes also hold significance. In the opening number, Hamilton is dressed in white like the rest of the cast, but as the song progresses he is handed his brown coat by the actor playing Eliza Schuyler. This coat represents his status as a poor immigrant when he arrives in America. Later in the show, after he marries into money and becomes a statesman, he trades in his modest attire for a money-green suit, representing his ever-growing need for power. In Act 2, Angelica Schuyler wears a tight and constricting jacket and has her hair tied back, representing the stricter lifestyle she leads as a married woman in London. Hamilton and Burr both wear black as they draw closer to their infamous duel.
Hamilton is a retelling a part of America’s history, but it makes its messages relevant today. The show acknowledges that many of the founding fathers were slave owners and makes it clear that this should not be ignored. Angelica Schuyler makes comments on women’s rights, while Eliza serves as a remind that these stories would not be remembered now if it weren’t for the women of the time.
Hamilton: An American Musical is so much more than the real-life people it portrays. It’s a story about legacy and the way we are remembered by others. It’s about pride and the dangers that come with it, and whether your ambitions are more important than the people you hurt in order to achieve them. It’s about overcoming challenges and beating the odds, but it’s also a cautionary tale that warns us to stay grounded and remember what’s important.
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Hamilton – 11/2017 Update
Hamilton will re-open at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London on December 6th, 2017. This is a result of the reconstruction of the theatre and reconfiguration of the seating. Tickets are available right now.
Hamilton, the exquisitely amazing smash hit musical on Broadway, is of course well into a national and international tour. Hamilton will be in London for the foreseeable future. The show continues to sell out every performance in New York City and has enjoyed the same level of success across the United States to include notable stops in Chicago and Los Angeles.
There is other exciting news as well. Lin-Manuel Miranda will return to his leading role for the performances of Hamilton in Puerto Rico. Miranda will assume his star role for a three week run in Puerto Rico in January of 2019. Miranda’s parents moved to New York City from Puerto Rico and Miranda is doing this in support of humanitarian relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
Hamilton the Musical
There is nothing as refreshing as sitting down to an exciting musical. A great musical leads you on a path towards self-discovery and accessing the emotions you rarely experience. Based on the life of one of the greatest figures in American history; American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton the Musical is an incredible musical that will definitely keep you captivated and entertained throughout the show. The musical takes you back in history to the era of the Founding Fathers letting you learn about the history of the great nation and the vices and values on which it was built.
Due to the incredible talent and the characteristic details displayed in the show, the show has achieved total success both critically and on the Box Office. With the book, lyrics and music done by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show was largely inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s biography as done by the historian Ron Chernow. The show that has for a while remained popular among musical enthusiasts made its debut Off-Broadway in February of 2015 at the Public Theater. It is also around here that its engagement got sold out. Hamilton the musical was then transferred in August 2015 to Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater.
The musical commences on act one with a summary of Alexander Hamilton’s early life. It gives a brief coverage of his orphaned life in the Caribbean. Born in the West Indies and out of wedlock after his father abandoned the family at a pretty young age, Hamilton became an orphan after his mother died when he was 12. He pushed his way into the American colonies by the time he was 19 and became a committed activist for American independence.
The first act covers a lot about his involvement in the revolution and fight for American independence including seeking out Aaron Burr, bonding with revolutionaries John Laurens, Hercules Mulligan and Marquis de Lafayette. The act also covers King George III’s message telling the colonists that he had the ability and the willingness to fight for them to submit to him. With the revolution in motion, Hamilton and his colleagues become part of the continental army. General George Washington realized that in order for him to be triumphant, he needed help. He offered Hamilton the Right Hand Man position which he accepted despite the fact that he would have loved a command and to fight alongside the forces.
Hamilton meets Eliza in 1780 at Philip Schuyler’s ball and the 2 wed soon afterwards. The revolution proceeds and despite several petitions to be made commander, George Washington declines and instead picks Charles Lee for the role. What follows is a series of events that include disobeying direct orders, slandering and an order for Hamilton to return home where he receives news of his wife’s pregnancy. Hamilton is given his desired command and he leads the Continental Army to victory at Yorktown and soon afterwards Philip, his son is born.
The second act has Thomas Jefferson return from France to the United States. James Madison seeks his help to put a stop to Hamilton’s financial plan. Madison is of the feeling that the plan gives too much power and control to the government. The merits of the plan is debated at a Cabinet meeting and Hamilton is advised by Washington to compromise something to win the congress’ approval. The act has details of Hamilton’s family, the struggle about the plan and setting up the basis of governance for the United States. It brings out defiance, allegiance, sacrifice and betrayal. This is also the act in which Hamilton meets his demise after being challenged to a duel by Burr. Although Burr wins the duel, he laments to being the villain of the story and to the fact that he has to go down in history as the man who put an end to the life Hamilton.
Ever since the show aired for the first time, Hamilton musical has risen to become one among the most successful Broadway musicals in history. The show that covers Alexander Hamilton’s history and the American Revolution has sold out its entire run. It is a pretty unique show that uses non-white characters to effectively bring out the story of America’s founding in a way that clearly brings out the story but in a unique and captivating way.
The 2015 Off-Broadway production of Hamilton Musical was choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler and directed by Thomas Kail. It premiered Off-Broadway at The Public Theater and was supervised by Oskar Eustis, the Public Artistic Director.
The Broadway production of the show which has been underway since 2015 received its Broadway premiere at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It is produced by Jeffrey Seller and includes scenic designs courtesy of David Korins. The lighting is done by Howell Binkley while the costumes are done by Paul Tazewell. The sound on the other hand is done by Nevin Steinberg.
Hamilton Tony Awards
The Hamilton has been a rather successful musical that has won the hearts of many. Besides its critical acclaim and Box Office success, Hamilton has also been pretty successful when it comes to awards. The show has been nominated for a record 16 Tony Awards at the 70th Tony Awards. The nominations were 13 categories. It managed to ultimately win 11 of these awards. Some of the awards that Hamilton bagged at the 70th Tony Awards include:
Some of the songs that are featured on the Hamilton Musical.
In the first act
In the second act:
Director of Hamilton: Thomas Kail
Thomas Kail is a world renowned film and theater director whose recent work includes the well-received Hamilton, the musical. Born on the 20th of January, 1978, Thomas Kail has built a reputation for himself over the course of his career. He has won the hearts of many film and theater lovers with his outstanding direction skills and has managed to bag a number of awards too.
Thomas Kail was brought up in Alexandria, Virginia. He attended Sidwell Friends School from which he graduated in 1995 after which he proceeded to Wesleyan University and graduated in 1999. Soon after his graduation from Wesleyan University, Thomas began on his path towards a career in the entertainment industry. He joined New Jersey’s American Stage Company as an assistant stage manager. In 2007 and 2008, Thomas directed 24 Hour Plays benefit performances. He was also the director of A Bus Stop Play by Julia Jordan, a play that he directed in 2007. In the year that followed, Thomas landed another direction role in which he directed Zusammenbruch by Beau Willimon. The plays were both featured on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre.
2008 was a good year for Thomas Kail’s direction career. He successfully directed In the Heights, a hit Broadway Musical that was critically acclaimed by various critics. For his role in the musical, he got nominated for a Tony Award in the category of Best Direction of a Musical. The musical premiered on Broadway and was officially opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on the 9th of March, 2008.
Another notable direction by Thomas is Broke-ology. The musical played between 5th October, 2009 and 22nd November, 2009 Off-Broadway at the Lincoln Center Theatre. The play was done so well that Kail was nominated for an AUDELCO Award in the category of Best Director of a Dramatic Production. 2009 saw Thomas Kail direct The Wiz’s New York City Center’s Encores production. Some of the other direction roles that Thomas has played over the course of his career include Lombardi by Eric Simonson, When I Come to Die by Nathan Louis Jackson which was played Off Broadway as well as Magic/Bird.
Of his directions, Hamilton remains one of the most successful and best performing musicals. Thomas directed the 2015 Off-Broadway production of Hamilton which was choreographed by Andy. Supervised by Oskar Eustis, the play premiered Off-Broadway at The Public Theatre.
Hamilton is a musical that follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the American Founding Fathers. The musical was inspired by Alexander Hamilton, a 2004 biography by Ron Chernow. The play is divided into two acts. The first act features an introduction to Alexander Hamilton with a summary of his early life. We are introduced to his early life as an orphan living in the Caribbean. His father leaves the family and his mother dies when Hilton is just 12. He becomes an avid supporter of American Independence. The first act is mostly about the struggle for independence. The second act features various other details about his life which ends in a duel that turns fatal.
Hamilton Songs – Satisfied
When first listening to it, Hamilton’s Satisfied sounds like a typical song about unrequited love. It begins with Angelica Schuyler’s toast as the Maid of Honor at her sister’s wedding and rewinds to reveal that she fell for Hamilton when she first met him. It would have been easy for writer Lin Manuel-Miranda to make Angelica envious of her sister, but that’s not what he did.
Angelica is the most outspoken, driven and cunning of the sisters, so the song goes through her thought process. She describes herself as “the oldest and the wittiest”, and after deducing Hamilton’s lack of wealth, realises that while marrying him would raise him higher on the social ladder, it would also mean lowering her family’s status. She sees that Eliza is infatuated with Hamilton as well, and introduces the two, knowing she will be left alone.
This could seem like a strategic way to stay close to Hamilton while keeping her own status in check, but a core element of Angelica’s character is her love for her sister. In her verse of The Reynolds Pamphlet, she says “I will choose her happiness over mine every time”, and she does. She lets go of Hamilton to let Eliza marry him, and when news of Hamilton’s affair is released, she travels back from London to stay by her sister’s side.
Satisfied is the only song in Hamilton that conveys Angelica’s inner thoughts, and it’s important to note that her rapping is significant, as she is the only female character in the show to do so. In other songs, she keeps herself sounding composed and pretty. When she raps, she becomes more emotive and honest. This compares the way Angelica thinks to the way she presents herself to others, linking back to her concerns with status. A woman in that time was expected to be polite at all times, but in Satisfied we see that her inner dialogue is as rich and intelligent as the men’s.
Hamilton Songs - Burn
Burn, the beautiful ballad about Eliza’s heartbreak, shows that there is more than one type of strong women. Eliza’s voice is delicate and her words poetic, but just because she can play the obedient housewife doesn’t mean she is weak.
True to the real-life Elizabeth Schuyler, Eliza doesn’t say anything to the press about her husband’s public affair. Her silence wasn’t doing nothing - she burnt every letter he wrote her, making sure that they couldn’t redeem his reputation. By doing this, she cut him where it hurt the most - his legacy. She knew that was what he valued more than anything and used it to hurt him the way he hurt her.
Eliza is significant because of her kindness and generosity, but Burn demonstrates why those traits shouldn’t be exploited. Eliza is soft and forgiving where Angelica is fierce and sharp-edged, but they are two sides of the same coin. The themes of self-sacrifice and determination present in both Satisfied and Burn show the true strength of the show’s leading ladies. Clearly the music in the Broadway masterpiece Hamilton is as beautiful and gorgeous as the entire performance itself. Fans and patrons that get a chance to obtain Hamilton tickets will be forever rewarded with the experience and memories of a remarkable and impactful performance.
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