You may have been one of the lucky ones to get tickets for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s visionary musical, that tells the tale of Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the US Treasury, or, you may not.
Here at Melan Mag, we were lucky enough to have got tickets for the sell-out Broadway and now West-End musical that literally everybody has been talking about.
Without any spoilers, in case you win the Hamilton lottery (yes, that’s a thing) or if you’ve got tickets to see it soon, read on for the lowdown on whether the hype is really worth it or if it’s a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
What’s it about?
Inspired by the 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton by American historian Ron Chernow, it’s a musical that tells the story of Hamilton’s rags to riches life as an American Founding Father. Lin-Manuel Miranda is an American playwright and composer who’s best-known for musicals In the Heights and, of course, Hamilton. The story is explored through rap and hip-hop and boasts a primarily non-white cast which serves as a reminder that America’s “greatness” has a lot to thank for immigrants such as Alexander Hamilton.
The story follows his love life as well as professional life, the life of his wife Eliza and her sister Angelica Schuyler who are the unsung heroines of the narrative. Exceptionally educational and powerfully told, the musical somehow takes the complex political history of the USA and turns it into something consumable that stands firmly against the white-washing of American history books.
The story takes a typically Aristotelian tragic-hero turn in the second half which tells the story of Hamilton’s decline and will have even the stoniest faces welling up.
Why has it received so much hype?
As a notable turning point in Broadway and West-End production, the play is confident and informative in telling history in a way that no one has ever really done before. Picture Thomas Jefferson in a rap battle or 90s R&B telling the story of the 17th Century.
According to The Guardian, Hamilton is a “transformative theatrical experience” which is why it’s received so much world-wide popularity. Where a musical such as Les Miserables tells a historical tale, it feels a far stretch away from living memory. Hamilton on the other hand, although it’s set a century earlier, feels very tangibly modern which is largely down to the music.
What’s the verdict?
There’s really no hiding it. In short, the answer is yes, Hamilton really is worth all the hype it’s been getting. Although it feels very much like a story that would be more important in America, the London show is just as important for two reasons. The first is that regardless of if it’s an American story or not, it’s wildly entertaining. Secondly, we lack education on American history as it stands already. With globalisation being an unavoidable state of our small world, American history is more relevant than ever.
Hamilton came at the right time. With the leader of the “Free World” actively discouraging immigrants and his bias against non-“natives” a story such as Hamilton reminds us of the fact that diversity has always been unavoidable and should be nothing other than celebrated. Hamilton is a great example of this celebration, not to mention one of the most entertaining musicals we’ve ever seen.