Hamilton is Here to Stay

By: Nancy Coleman

To most people, a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton sounds like a punch line in a comedy routine.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is not like most people.
During the Broadway run of his first Tony Award winning musical In the Heights—for which he was the composer, lyricist, and leading man Usnavi—Miranda picked up a copy of Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton and began to form lyrics and melodies in his head.
Six years later, the revolutionary musical about the “ten-dollar founding father without a father,” Hamilton, opened on Broadway with Miranda as the leading role of Hamilton. Miranda was the composer and lyricist for Hamilton as well.

Since its opening in July, Hamilton has sold out every performance months in advance. But for the rest of us without tickets, Miranda has made it easy for us to experience the show as well. There is hardly any dialogue spoken on stage that is not included on the soundtrack. The entire story is told through music and lyrics.
The opening number, aptly titled “Alexander Hamilton,” starts off the show with a driving beat in a prologue told by Hamilton’s most prominent rival, Aaron Burr, played by Leslie Odom, Jr. Act I moves through the early days of Revolutionary War with the passionate and catchy group number “My Shot.” This is followed by Hamilton’s love story with his wife Elizabeth Schuyler in “Helpless.” Her sister, Angelica Schuyler, reveals her own love for Hamilton in the subsequent number “Satisfied.” While female leads are a clear minority of the cast, the three Schuyler sisters, played by Phillipa Soo as Eliza, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica, and Jasmine Cephas-Jones as Peggy, all pack their own powerful punch for each song they appear in. “Dear Theodosia” at the end of Act I drifts away from the rebellious tone of the rest of the act in a sweet heart-wrenching harmony between Burr, Hamilton and their children.

Act II follows suit with the energetic introduction of Thomas Jefferson played by Daveed Diggs. A few heated Cabinet rap battles and a beautiful ballad “Burn” sung by Eliza Hamilton contribute to this gripping continuation of the plot.

The themes of Hamilton fit seamlessly with the hip-hop style of the music. Hip-hop and rap is what the millennial generation has grown up with—it’s what Miranda grew up listening to—and that is why this musical resonates easily with so many people. It is a centuries-old story translated into the musical language that we hear today. It includes the qualities we encompass today: ambition, passion, dedication and resilience. Miranda’s work makes it clear that these same values were instilled in the very first Americans. Miranda is more than a storyteller. His work is what helps connect the revolutionary era to ours.

Hamilton is streaming now on Spotify and is available for purchase on iTunes.

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E23 Web Director Colleen Sloyan has been with MUTV for three semesters now. She is studying for a Bachelor of Journalism and a minor in Business.