I did not have the opportunity to experience the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “Hamilton” when it was playing off-Broadway, but I’m so glad I did get to see it on Broadway. Miranda did the book, music and lyrics and portrays the lead role of Alexander Hamilton. His new musical tells a historical story, but he does it using hip-hop dance moves and having himself and his fellow historic character rap their message.
It was a blast to sit in the Richard Rodgers Theatre on West 46th Street and hear the historic tale of Hamilton—what he accomplished in his life and his downfalls. The audience gets to meet all the people who played important roles in his life, from his family to political figures of the time who were both friends and foes. We see the Hamilton who worked closely with George Washington, we see the brilliant man who voiced his views about Britain’s control and we see the man who befriended Aaron Burr, only to eventually meet his death at Burr’s hand.
Miranda tells this story with such an original, engaging approach. This show would be great for students to see when studying this period of history. The raps are understandable, entertaining and at times funny. Young people will truly find themselves engaged by the captivating hip-hop choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler that is featured throughout the production. “Hamilton” has a cast that is magnificent and characters you will not soon forget.
I love the way Miranda portrayed King George as a very cruel but funny tyrant. Jonathan Groff played the role and was hilarious from the time he stepped on stage. This production has a fabulous, ethnically mixed cast. There are several Blacks and Hispanics, and it is delightful to see them portraying these historic characters. Non-traditional casting is alive and well and poignantly demonstrated in this musical.
In addition to Miranda as Hamilton, perfect non-traditional casting choices included Drama Desk Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Phillipa Soo as Elisa Schuyler, Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette and Okieriete Onaodowan as James Madison and Hercules Mulligan.
I love to see when a production is well-thought-out, cast and executed, and “Hamilton” definitely is. Miranda’s use of hip-hop dance moves, raps and presenting subject matter in an attractive way was demonstrated with his first work “In the Heights,” for which he was composer and lyricist while also starring as the character Usnavi. That show also started off-Broadway and was successfully transferred to Broadway, where it garnered him four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Go see “Hamilton” and enjoy learning history!