By: Revanche

Why you should care about Hamilton, The Musical

February 16, 2016

Anyone watch the Grammys last night? I didn’t get to watch in real time but my heart thrilled knowing it was happening – our beloved Hamilton was playing the Grammys! #Gram4Ham – We Won!

Then I kicked rocks because their performance reached an even wider audience, thus making it 10,000 times harder to get tickets. And I’m about to do my own plug to make it that much harder for me to get that #Hamiltunes #Ham4Ham love. Because I’m selfless like that.

If you’re a money nerd, this is for you.
If you know the hustle and grind, this is for you.
If you’re an immigrant’s kid relate to the immigrant experience, this is for you.
If you love the spirit of freedom and independence, this is for you.
If you just plain love catchy music, this is absolutely for you.

How does a bastard, orphan son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean
By providence, impoverished, in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
The 10 dollar

Founding father without a father
Got a lot farther by working a lot harder,
by being a lot smarter
By being a self-starter

-Alexander Hamilton

He’s a genius!

I’ve said it before, I think Hamilton is sensational. It’s not just clever, it’s smart. It’s funny without sacrificing gravitas; it’s culturally present; it’s engaging and, though there is obviously some creative license taken, it’s American history on the stage.

I’ll call Lin-Manuel Miranda the genius that he is in my tone-deaf world where my own baby reacted to lullabies with a “ehhh maybe don’t sing me to sleep momma” face. Let’s just not forget all the craftsmanship that went into bringing Alexander Hamilton to life.

Hamilton was an immigrant (“…bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman…”) with vision, ambition, drive. He served as Washington’s military aide, then became our first Secretary of the Treasury, facing down detractors in Washington’s Cabinet to create a strong centralized banking system, making enemies as fast as he made friends. He fought for the US Mint, and he made the repayment of the national debt his first priority. (That’s for us money nerds.)

Thomas. That was a real nice declaration
Welcome to the present, we’re running a real nation
Would you like to join us, or stay mellow
Doin’ whatever the hell it is you do in Monticello?
If we assume the debts, the union gets
A new line of credit, a financial diuretic
How do you not get it? If we’re aggressive and competitive
The union gets a boost. You’d rather give it a sedative?
– Cabinet Battle #1

For the hustlers and the grinders, those who work their butts off, not for fame or glory but to get the job DONE? Hamilton was your guy.

Alexander joins forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled The Federalist Papers. The plan was to write a total of twenty-five essays, the work divided evenly among the three men. In the end, they wrote eighty-five essays, in the span of six months. John Jay got sick after writing five. James Madison wrote twenty-nine. Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!

Man, the man was – NONSTOP.

Alexander Hamilton was far from perfect and Lin-Manuel’s portrayal is honest, highlighting his flaws alongside his gifts. Arrogant, reckless, idealistic, visionary? He was all those things.

But as much as I adore the music, the lyrics, the beats, the way my kid will stand up to clap, laugh, and dance to it, my heart is most drawn to how this all happened. There’s something magical about how unmagical this was.

Hamilton’s origin story

Miranda, having written the Tony-winning musical In the Heights, picked up the 600+ page Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow for some light vacation reading. Some 50 pages into the book, he was incredibly excited by the notion that this would make a great musical, set to hip-hop lyrics. Miranda couldn’t believe this wasn’t already a musical! Granted, this was his day job but I think it takes a rare mind to see a musical in a several hundred page biography.

Ron Chernow, the original biographer himself, had no idea what Miranda was talking about at first but got on board and later served as historical consultant to the show.

This didn’t happen in a vacuum, mind. Miranda’s been in the business, he’s been part of the comedy/improv rap troupe Freestyle Love Supreme for years, and he worked on this while he was also still working on In the Heights.

I repeat: writing Hamilton was his side hustle while performing in the Tony-winning musical that he wrote.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and persistence

LMM says "they're gonna laugh. That's ok. Keep writing." Link: The tumblr link:

Here’s that tumblr link:

He was hooked in 2008 and by 2009, he was testing his audience, rapping out what would become the first song of the whole musical at the White House, no less.

Compare, if you will, the differences between his early draft here, and the eventual final opening number.

The show opened at The Public Theatre in February 2015 and was such a resounding hit that the run was extended, then extended again. By July 2015, it opened in the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway and it’s apparently a nearly impossible ticket to get. That’s only the start.

In 2017, they’ll be playing in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles. There’s already a cast recording, and there’s talk of an original cast movie. (Please make it so!)

Sidebar: I REALLY want to see the original New York cast. I’ve fallen head over heels for them, between their Ham4Ham shows for the Hamilton ticket lottery, their work together as a diverse cast that feels much more like the America I know, and truly dear to my heart, their good work in the community.

Immigrants, we get the job done!

Miranda’s a veteran in the business but his excitement at the success and opportunities are heartwarming for a fellow hard-working immigrant’s kid. I don’t need to know critical acclaim to remember feeling the wonder of success.

I’m smitten and inspiration-struck when the words and the music that he wrote are brought to life by the incredible talent of men and women of the Hamilton cast.

He translated the life and times from Revolutionary War-era America in a way that echoes in everyday life and I am earwormed forever.

I hear the Hamiltons comforting their dying son, Philip, when I soothe my sick child, “I know, I know.”

I hear Angelica Schuyler when confronted with sexism still alive and well today:

“’We hold these truths to be self-evident
That all men are created equal’

And when I meet Thomas Jefferson
I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!
– The Schuyler Sisters

Dear Theodosia rips my heart out, voicing my worries, fears, and hopes for an infant LB’s future:

You will come of age with our young nation
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you
And you’ll blow us all away…
Someday, someday
Yeah, you’ll blow us all away
Someday, someday
– Dear Theodosia

And at the end of our days, a reminder we can only do our best to leave a legacy worthy of being remembered.

“Legacy. What is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see
– The World Was Wide Enough

Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story?
– Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

In all honesty…

My words can hardly do it justice, but enjoy the music if you haven’t already and tell me if “Right Hand Man” and “Nonstop” doesn’t get your toes tapping and your blood moving to get out there and conquer your ambitions. Tell me if Eliza’s soaring vocals don’t make your heart sing, whether she’s falling in love, or reeling from betrayal.

If you can get tickets – more importantly, if you can get me tickets 😉 – TELL ME THAT too. In the meantime, you know where to find me! Right here, listening to the soundtrack and writing like I’m running out of time.

9 Responses to “Why you should care about Hamilton, The Musical”

  1. I would really love to see this musical! I did an In the Heights flash mob for Lin-Manual at Universal Studios and everyone was given free tickets to see that show and I LOVED it! Sadly because it is so hot I might have to wait some time before I do.

  2. I want to see Hamilton SO badly! I’ve been listening to the soundtrack nonstop since Christmas. My fave song is “Satisfied” 😀

  3. Linda says:

    I’m not a person who usually likes musicals, so I don’t think to keep up with new ones. I know you’ve been raving about it a lot on Twitter, but I hadn’t thought to listen to any of the music until I followed a link to the Grammy performance. It looked and sounded amazing. I’m not sure I’ll be able to ever see it, but now I see why you love it so much. 🙂
    Linda recently posted…Taking care of MomMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Yay! I should have started the post with that caveat too, this is the first musical I’ve listened to. So glad you gave it a try and liked it!

  4. Joi_The_Artist says:

    I do not normally like musicals. At all. I can count on one hand the musicals I actually enjoy.

    When the Hamilton album was released, I first started seeing references to it on Tumblr. At first I didn’t think much of it. Then I found out it was about the actual Alexander Hamilton. My response was pretty much, “WTF? A rap musical about the least popular Founding Father? This sounds like the worst idea EVER.” But Tumblr wouldn’t shut up about it. I finally decided, sometime in October, to sit down and listen to the damn album just so I’d have a clue what my dashboard was going on about. Within a few bars of the opening number, I could tell it was something special. I had the Genius site open, and read all the info about each song before listening to it. “Farmer Refuted” was the first number that really blew my mind; the word-crafting was just so CLEVER. And it told you so much about Hamilton: quick-tempered kid, too smart for his own good, and is so good with words that he will use your own words to discount you, and will do it in double-time.

    I openly sobbed through “Quiet Uptown” and the last two numbers. I then put the album on repeat, for about 2 months. I barely listened to any Christmas music. As soon as Christmas was over, Hamilton went back into full time rotation. I’ve never had an album, Broadway or otherwise, take over my mind like that.

    • Revanche says:

      So much love! I too have never followed or listened to musicals but this is just such a great one. The creativity it spans, and the wordsmithing, all just mindblowing. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Milika Miller says:

    I went to see Hamilton this past Saturday. My children and I have been singing and obsessing over the soundtrack since it first came out. I have a deep attachment to this original cast, their voices and portrayal of those characters. I knew I had to see the original cast. My husband got tired of me going back to the ticketmaster site again and again and allowed us to pay the ungodly sum it took to get a ticket. MONEY WELL SPENT. The nuisances to the words that come from seeing the visuals have changed how I now hear them. My only regret is that I have 4 children and there is no way I could take them to see the original cast. But, we plan on taking them to see the Chicago show.

  6. Robyn says:

    I loved musicals in the 90’s but they really fell off my radar since then. But I am more than addicted enough to Hamilton now to make up for all the intervening years. I’d noticed all the chat last fall about it (including your tweets) and finally gave in and bought the cast recording at the start of this year. SO OBSESSED NOW. It’s an amazing work of art.

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