“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?” That’s the question answered by Grammy-winning musical Hamilton, the show that is currently taking Broadway by storm.
From the show’s recent performance and Grammy win to the numerous praises it’s received by celebrities and other public figures, Hamilton seems to be on the tip of practically everyone’s tongue. Not to mention, infiltrating everyone’s Facebook feed. So how is a musical about our first Secretary of the Treasury and the guy on the $10 bill, Alexander Hamilton, quickly becoming a national sensation?
It’s revolutionizing Broadway as we know it. Minorities dominate the cast. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda casts himself as a Latino Alexander Hamilton and Christopher Jackson, an African-American, as George Washington; Hamilton is largely made up of Latino and African-American actors. This is groundbreaking for Broadway as it is often criticized for not having enough diversity in its performers. It’s the story of America then, told by America now. The beauty of Hamilton, is that it’s the tale of an outsider becoming an insider; of immigrants being accepted into a nation of immigrants. An issue that is still a problem today. Miranda’s Hamilton repeats throughout the show: “Hey you, I’m just like my country. I’m young, scrappy, and hungry. I am not throwing away my shot!”
Hamilton makes the founding fathers accessible. Forget about the old, dead, white guys we all learned in school; Miranda manages to make them interesting and entertaining. The biographical musical focuses of the rise and fall of Alexander Hamilton: a poor immigrant born in the West Indies and orphaned at a young age, who made his way to America on the brink of the Revolutionary war and ended up as our “ten-dollar founding father.” But this isn’t a story you’d find in a history textbook; Hamilton was involved in one of our nation’s first political sex scandals. He was also involved in 10 near-duels, until he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.
It’s breaking boundaries. When you think Broadway you don’t normally associate it with hip-hop, but this show is changing that; Hamilton tells its story through hip-hop and R&B music. It may sound strange, but it just works. Who wouldn’t want to listen to a rap battle between Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson about the newly founded America’s debt plan? The soundtrack debuted at #200 on the Billboard 200 Chart, which makes it the highest charting cast album since The Book of Mormon in 2011, and it’s only the sixth cast album to reach the Top 20 in the last 50 years. The album even landed in the #1 spot on the Billboard Rap Album Chart.
The show is currently playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York City, and is currently sold out until early next year. However, a run in Chicago is planned for 2017 along with a national tour. Even though the chances of seeing the show are slim, Miranda frequently encourages people through his social media to listen to the cast album anyway. To him, the music and the story are what really matters. The full cast album is available to stream for free on Spotify.