‘Hamilton’ Surpasses Every Expectation


Sophia Belshe

The stage for “Hamilton” at the Richard Rodgers Theater.

Sophia Belshe, Ads Editor

From the first beat to the final note, “Hamilton: An American Musical,” was a breath of fresh air for the musical theater world. With a modern twist on the story of a forgotten founding father, it isn’t hard to see why “Hamilton” has earned every ounce of attention it’s received since its opening.

The show follows the story of the first US Treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, from his political endeavors to his role in America’s first sex scandal to his famous end on the dueling ground. And through Hamilton, the show also tells the story of other important figures such as Aaron Burr, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as Hamilton’s family.

When I saw the show March 16 at the Richard Rodgers Theater, I was blown away. The soundtrack is unconventional for a Broadway show, replacing the typical show tunes with R&B and rap, but the cast pulled it off flawlessly. The show seamlessly combines history and theater. It was upbeat, fast paced and kept the audience hanging onto every word. You’d think that a song about the economic plan for a young United States wouldn’t be that entertaining, but when it’s presented in the form of a cabinet-meeting-turned-rap-battle, it doesn’t feel like history at all.

The staging, lighting and costumes for the show were simple, but effective. There weren’t many set pieces or props, so they used what they had very creatively. The technical aspects added to the story, as opposed to distracting from it.

People usually think of the founding fathers as stuffy old men, but leading actors Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the entire show and stars as Alexander Hamilton, Leslie Odom Jr. (Aaron Burr), and Christopher Jackson (George Washington) were able to breathe new life into classic historical characters. They were able to make the founding fathers relatable, even for people living over 200 years after their deaths.

Jonathan Groff (King George) made the most out of his small amount of stage time. He spends no more than 10 or 15 minutes on stage, singing only three songs, but he was easily the funniest character, and provided effortless comic relief.

And let’s not forget the ladies of the show. Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler), and Jasmine Cephas Jones (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds) collectively stole the spotlight from the otherwise male driven lead cast. “Burn,” sung by Soo, and “Satisfied,” sung by Goldsberry, were easily two of the most interesting songs in the show, not only for their distinctive musical styles, but also for their unique perspectives on the story.

Another pleasantly surprising element of the show was its relevance to today’s political landscape and society. There were subtle nods to immigration, human rights and gun control issues, which emphasized that America has been arguing about basically the same set of things from the beginning.

The show ends with “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” which seems tame and anti-climactic compared to many of the other numbers, but the ending could not be better, given the story. It showcases Eliza, and the life she led after Hamilton died, which wraps up his story in a way that nothing else could.

The soundtrack to this show is just as good, if not better, than some hits on the radio today, and it’s gotten about as much attention. It debuted at No. 12 on Billboard’s 200 Chart, and took home the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.

Unfortunately, unless you find yourself in New York and happen to have a few thousand dollars to spend on resale tickets (yes, they’re actually going for that much), you won’t be able to score tickets. But, the full soundtrack is available on iTunes as well as Spotify, and it is definitely worth a listen for any fan of Broadway, rap, or American history.