Hamilton (play review)

by Adalia

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton was originally published in January 2015, but I didn’t hear any of the music for at least three years. When I first heard the music with a friend of mine, the fast-paced rapping beat was hard to follow, but fun to follow along with. Later, during several of my history classes we listened to various songs, like My Shot and Right Hand Man, to learn more about the Patriots versus the Loyalists and the US Revolution in a more interesting way than a lecture. Then, the Disney recording came out, and since COVID had theaters closed down, Mom and I watched it. The play, in recording form, was disappointing. (WARNING: watching a recorded play is not the same as watching the play!) Everyone I spoke to about Hamilton had only good things to say (of course, after accusing me of not seeing it yet).

The popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton only seems to keep growing. In fact, during the depths of quarantine, the recording of the play on Disney+, reportedly had close to 3 million views within 10 days of debuting! But the popularity of it is not wrongly handed…once you’ve seen the live play. I was recently able to watch it and it is WONDERFUL and AMAZING.

There are so many components to the musical that make it incredible to watch (note: I didn’t put this in any particular order, because all aspects were amazing): first of all the music is so in sync with the actors’ movements that it felt like things were happening in real time, in the real moment. Secondly, the moving stage added an additional dimension to the play, because the actors were able to play with time in several different scenes, making it seem to slow down and even stop (still with the music in sync, of course). The props on the stage were wonderful as well because they fit every scene, whether it was the bar where so many important plans were formed, or at the Winter Ball, where Hamilton first met the Schuyler sisters. Additionally, the lights seemed to be a character of their own because they moved with the actors and changed colors with the emotion of the plot. Finally, the actors themselves were incredible with the depth of emotion they showed with their body movements and vocals. They expressed the story so beautifully and being in the room with them felt extra special. I must admit, I still don’t understand all the lyrics to all of Hamilton’s music, but watching and listening to the music live was especially incredible because of the music and movement that went along with each word and because the actors added little quirks to their parts that made it even more special.

The history behind who Alexander Hamilton was is incredibly interesting, as well. Like every person, he wasn’t perfect, but he has a great story of rising up for something he strongly believed in. Hamilton was born and orphaned on a small Caribbean island before being taken and supported by several patrons who sent him to New York to pursue an education. There he was almost immediately involved in speaking up against English rule, soon rising through the ranks to become George Washington’s senior aide as the US Revolutionary War began. Once the war was over his contributions continued, including creating our financial system and the US Coast Guard.

If you ever have the opportunity to watch Hamilton, definitely take it because watching it live gives the viewer a whole different appreciation for the history behind all of the characters who influenced Hamilton’s story (including Hamilton himself).