Hamilton (2020) Gives Everyone a Chance to Experience a New Classic
Director: Thomas Kail
Producers: Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeffrey Seller
Songs, Book, and Composition: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Based On Non-fiction book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Leslie Odom Jr.
Renee Elise Goldsberry
Jasmine Cephas Jones
Production: 5000 Broadway Productions, Nevis Productions, Old 320 Sycamore Pictures, Radical Media, Walt Disney Pictures
Release: Walt Disney Pictures
Streaming now on Disney Plus!
In 2015 an off Broadway musical about the most underrated of the Founding Fathers took not only the theater world by storm, but the world at large… Hamilton. It came to Broadway proper and became an even bigger, with a wait list a mile long and good seats costing upwards of $3000 dollars. It seemed like normal people would never get to see the original performances, outside piracy. That is, until Disney bought the rights to the filmed version of the play and eventually planned to release it to movie theaters nation wide. It was scheduled for released October 2021, but because of the ongoing global crisis, Disney decided to move it up July 3, 2020 and release it on Disney Plus. So after four years of hype, did Hamilton live up to expectations? I think the film exceeded even my wildest hopes.
Hamilton is the story of America’s first Treasury Secretary and his influence on the founding of the country. From his humble beginnings as an orphan and immigrant who rose from nothing to become a great speaker agitating for independence from England, to his time as George Washington’s Aide De Camp, his part in founding the government, to his tragic death at 49. It is also about the relationships in Hamilton’s life; his father figure George Washington, his political rivals Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, his wife Eliza and her sisters, and his complicated relationship with Arron Burr, the man who eventually killed him.
The first thing I’ll say is that the music is fantastic! There are so many different genres and artist that are pulled from that really work: from the hip-hop flavor of “Alexander Hamilton”, “My Shot”, and the Cabinet Battles; to the Toni Braxton flavored “Helpless” and “Satisfied”; to the more traditional numbers like “Wait For It”, “What Did I Miss”, “The Room Where It Happened”, and “One Last Time”; and other genres like early 2000s R&B and the British Invasion.
The lyrics are clever and flow flawlessly. For example: Part of the opening song has the characters sing their relationship to Hamilton, and the actors who play two characters have lines that works for both of the people they’re playing. So Jefferson and Madison say “Me, I fought with him”, which is true for the other characters Lafayette and Hercules Mulligan, who fought with him, and Jefferson and Madison, who fought with him. The acting is across the board superb, and for the life of me I couldn’t pick a standout if I tried. Phillipa Soo’s Eliza does a lot of heavy emotional lifting with what her character goes through. Leslie Odom Jr. sure did earn his Tony Award as Arron Burr, playing him as a sympathetic character who’s jealousy leads him down a dark path. Daveed Diggs as Lafayette and Jefferson is some if the most fun part of the show besides Jonathan Groff’s King George.
The writing is fantastic, giving us a warts and all portrayal of Hamilton, his greatest achievements and lowest points. It’s a story of ambition, jealousy, love, betrayal, redemption, and forgiveness, making for a moving and informative show that is well worth the 2 hour and 40 minute runtime. It deserves it’s reputation as a new classic.
If you have D+.