4 posts in this topic

The New Yorker: All About the Hamiltons

 

Born out of wedlock, raised in poverty in St. Croix, abandoned by his father, and orphaned by his mother as a child, Hamilton transplanted himself as an adolescent to a New York City filled with revolutionary fervor. An eloquent and prolific writer, he was the author of two-thirds of the Federalist Papers; after serving as George Washington’s aide during the Revolutionary War, he became America’s first Treasury Secretary. Later, Hamilton achieved the dubious distinction of being at the center of the nation’s first political sex scandal, after an extramarital affair became public. He never again held office, and before reaching the age of fifty he was dead, killed in a duel by Aaron Burr, the Vice-President, after a personal dispute escalated beyond remediation.
 
Miranda saw Hamilton’s relentlessness, brilliance, linguistic dexterity, and self-destructive stubbornness through his own idiosyncratic lens. It was, he thought, a hip-hop story, an immigrant’s story. 
 
[snip]
 
Rooted in hip-hop, but also encompassing R. & B., jazz, pop, Tin Pan Alley, and the choral strains of contemporary Broadway, the show is an achievement of historical and cultural reimagining. In Miranda’s telling, the headlong rise of one self-made immigrant becomes the story of America. Hamilton announces himself in a signature refrain: “Hey, yo, I’m just like my country / I’m young, scrappy and hungry / And I’m not throwing away my shot,” and these words could equally apply to his dramatizer. Miranda has used as his Twitter avatar Hamilton’s portrait on the ten-dollar bill, slyly tweaked to incorporate Miranda’s dark eyes, humorously set mouth, and goatee.
 
Consider me interested, although the lyrics quoted in the above snippit are a bit on-the-nose.
 
 
Here's the performance alluded to in the first part of the article:
 
Edited by NBooth

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The New York Times

 

During the first half of the 20th century, the American songbook was often dictated by Broadway tunesmiths. But by the late 1950s, songs from musicals had become a quaint breed apart from the songs that America danced to and sang in the shower. And though many major talents have tried to close that gap (including Mr. Miranda in his amiable but less thoroughly realized Broadway hit “In the Heights”), Spotify-friendly tunes have tended to show up only in those cumbersome recycling centers known as jukebox musicals.

 
But, lo and behold, there are songs throughout “Hamilton” that could be performed more or less as they are by Drake or Beyoncé or Kanye. And there’s none of the distancing archness found in those recent (and excellent) history musicals at the Public, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Here Lies Love.” “Hamilton” isn’t cool; it’s utterly sincere, but without being judgmental or pious. And its numbers come across as natural and inevitable expressions of people living in late-18th-century America.

 

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The New Yorker:

 

[Miranda] doesn’t have much feeling for his female characters; for the most part, they’re plot points in silk. (“Hamilton” has an almost all-male production team.) This was also a problem with Miranda’s Tony-winning 2008 show “In the Heights,” which centered on his alter ego, Usnavi: the other characters, all too “colorful” by half, were just fleeting stars in his galaxy. “Hamilton” is the work of a more mature artist, for sure, but one who’s fearful of being kept out of the white boys’ club of the American musical. By burying his trickster-quick take on race, immigrant ambition, colonialism, and masculinity under a commonplace love story in the second half of the show, Miranda hides what he most needs to display: his talent.

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The JuntoCast--an early American history podcast--has two episodes that might be interesting to anyone who liked (or didn't like) the musical:

Ep. 20: Alexander Hamilton

Extra! Ep. 3: The Hamilton Moment (this one dedicated to discussing the musical)

I revisit the musical occasionally on Spotify and get a kick out of it, though some of the lyrics are still on-the-nose. "Remind You of My Love" is a hoot. I'll certainly be trying to grab tickets if the touring company ever comes to Birmingham, Alabama (which is not as unlikely as it might seem--the BJCC does a reasonable job of attracting shows).

Edited by NBooth

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