I f***ing love Hamilton (An American Musical).
I think it's no coincidence that the release date for the Hamilton show recording was pushed ahead from October 2021 to today, on the eve of Independence Day, in a year that, itself, will go down in history. Producers and creators and marketers said: "Screw it; it's ready: let's get this in front of as many people as possible." Instead of making the conversation about profit (which undoubtedly was lost in the decision to release it on a streaming service people pay 6.99/month for), they made the conversation about the message and integrity of the art itself.
Nothing successful exists without its controversies, and both Disney and Hamilton are certainly no exception, but I have no qualms with their controversies today. I am simply in awe of the work of art: the most brilliant, detail oriented, living embodiment of both a slice of troubled American history and human nature itself. It is not just an assembly of various commercial art forms (writing, song, dancing, production, etc.). It is not just a catchy work to fangirl over. It is the most creatively fused, meticulously researched, intricately woven piece of anything I've seen. It is a story, based on historical documents, with no perfect hero and no perfect villain.
I've been waiting to watch this film since the Broadway show debuted and the original cast recording was released on Spotify. I've gone to the show lottery in NYC and LA but never won. I watched a bootleg video of the show a few times the year it came out. I've done some of the choreography at auditions and gone down a few rabbit holes of Hamilton press interviews, shorter performances, and analysis videos. At my first audition, I walked 2 blocks back from the Starbucks to 3rd Street Dance in Beverly Hills alongside Andy Blankenbuehler, as he talked about the process of replicating the Broadway run for multiple touring productions and additional sit downs in Chicago and London. I used to wait on Lin Manuel Miranda from 2012-13 at a cafe on the northern tip of Manhattan, in Inwood. He came in a few times/week on his own, with a laptop and a legal pad. His eyes twinkled whenever he looked up, and though he was clearly working, he never stayed longer than an hour or two. I've continued to audition for the show--even attending a callback in NYC this year and having the blessed bonus of a coaching with my bestie, who recently joined the Phillip Tour as Dance Supervisor. All of this, and countless emotional listens to both the original cast recording and the Hamilton Mix Tape, still did not prepare me fully for today's viewing, in all its glory, complete with expert sound, polished acting, and cinematic edits.
There are so many layers of beauty to this show: the humanizing of flawed historical figures with decent intentions; the choreography that exhaustively drives the story home; the monumental lyricism and genius composition; the use of bodies, lighting, and a massive turntable to illustrate rewound memories, forward time passage, and the view from each character's perspective. What really lifted my heart today, was witnessing it 5 years after its original debut with its original cast, so many of whom have exploded in the film, television, and music scene. It was a glorious reunion of the OG's for an event that has and will continue to change public consciousness. Hamilton is a show about white founding fathers with a multi-racial roster, flipping common textbook misconceptions on their heads for complex empathy, rather than oversimplified 'good vs. evil' tropes. It is an exploration of suffering, of war heroism, of US political origins, of grief, and of forgiveness. It is a slice of history, come alive, with all the hybrid cultural artistry of today's generations of immigrants.
Hamilton, unlike me in my first attempts to get cast in the show, is not focused on a single person's 'perfect' journey to greatness. It is focused on the relationships and often messy choices that make up the world we now live in. It is a tribute to imperfection, regret, and growth. It is a beautiful rendering of complex chains of events that, much like life, leave the viewer all at once reverent, sad, and uplifted. It is an optimistic, music and theatre nerd's epic dream, that fell into place through brilliant collaboration and a timely message.