HAMILTON gets 9.5/10 And you get to be in the room where it happens

Directed by Thomas Kail
Starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr., Christopher Jackson
Network: Disney+


Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton details the life of the so-called “Ten-Dollar Founding Father,” Alexander Hamilton from stage production to film. From an orphan in the Caribbean to US founding father, the musical follows the high and low’s of the American Revolution and the new nation’s first moments. What makes this story so unique is the focus on the often forgotten character of Hamilton.

Recorded over three days in June 2016, in a combination of live shows and unattended performances, this film makes use of both wide and close shots giving the viewer a typically unseen look at musical theatre. This is showcased in King George III’s entrance, showing him from behind stepping towards the audience from backstage.

Each musical piece carries the film forward and in detailing the first sex scandal of the new nation, The Reynolds Pamphlet scene a whirlwind showcase of the historical and personal impact of these moments. In addition to the musical elements, the character of Aaron Burr presents the narrative from his perspective. The rivalry between Burr and Hamilton is encouraged through this with Burr’s crucial line, “talk less, smile more. Never let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” This is central to the ideological struggle between the two and is presented as directly opposite to Hamilton’s outspoken approach to leadership. From the near beginning through to the climatic end, the multi-faceted narration demonstrates a somewhat fulfilled storyline.

In relation to character development, the performance does this no less than a traditional film. With the lack of non-plot related dialogue or clear jumps in time, the audience comes to depend on costuming to differentiate between character periods. For example, Hamilton’s coat changes from his lower-class self to the revolution fighter, to treasurer to grieving father. Similarly does his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, as her costume dress transitions from young woman and bride to devoted mother and wife to grieving mother.

With a contemporary take on theatre, this is seemingly the perfect show to bring to a modern streaming platform. The musical pieces are an energetic expression of jazz and hip hop throughout, and even includes a few rap battles sprinkled in the mix. The retelling of history is made relevant, and dare we say fun, because of these enticing musical aspects. The dance numbers are seamless, even the slow-motion elements, adding to the thrill of this theatrical performance.

Rounding out the two hour and 40-minute show is a scene centred on the telling of Hamilton’s story. The cast track “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” backs the need for the exploration of Hamilton’s life in such a public way.

This release is an unusually accessible showing of such an acclaimed theatre piece and is a modern and exciting change. While it is no match for seeing this live, it is a smooth but lively introduction to live theatre. In a time where such performance seems so distant, the immersion of the real-life audience is a welcomed asset.


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