Catching up with Hamilton

Now that I’ve finished the movie portion of my Marvel catch-up project, I’ve turned to other things I need to catch up on, and last weekend I finally caught up with the rest of the world and watched Hamilton.

It’s a little odd that I haven’t seen it yet or even heard the cast album, given that I’m a big musical theater fan. I used to have season tickets to the touring production series, and I usually try to see a show on every trip to New York. I grew up listening to cast albums of shows I hadn’t seen. But I haven’t had the budget for live theater for the past few years, so I haven’t had those season tickets in ages, and I haven’t been to New York in a long time (not that I’d have been able to get tickets to that show). I think I was also wary of the hype, and I had a mistaken impression of what the show was. I tend to like the semi-operatic shows (Les Miserables is my favorite), and I thought this was more of a very modern hip-hop/rap thing.

But the show’s on Disney+, and I figured I needed to see it to have any musical theater nerd credibility — and I learned that I’ve been totally wrong about the show. It actually reminds me more of Les Mis than just about any other show. There are rap and hip-hop elements, but they mostly seem to function in the same way the recitative bits in Les Mis (or other semi-operatic, sung-through shows) do, as a replacement for dialogue. The staging reminds me a lot of Les Mis, with the fairly bare stage with some architecture that serves a variety of functions, then there’s the turntable, comic relief numbers mixed in with the serious dramatic monologue type songs, a basis in history, and an ending that’s tragic but with a hopeful spin.

I absolutely loved this show. I’m going to have to watch it again with subtitles to catch all the clever wordplay. The words come fast and furious at times, packing so much information in and doing it somehow with rhyme and meter. The cast album is on Prime Music, so I listened to it the next day. Supposedly, it would be my background music for housework, but I ended up just standing there and listening.

Oddly enough, of all the big, dramatic songs that I loved, the one that’s stuck in my head on a loop is King George’s song. I’m walking around the house singing that one to myself.

Anyway, I love that they have a staged version of the original cast on film like this. I wish we could have had this sort of thing for the original cast of Les Mis. Some of these shows work better in the more abstract world of the stage than they do in a more “realistic” framework as most movies are done.

So, I’m late to the game, but I did eventually make it, and it reminds me of how much I love musical theater. It may be a while before I can go to live shows (they are expensive), and it’s nice to be able to get the experience at home.

2 Responses to “Catching up with Hamilton”

  1. Debra

    So glad you loved it, it has not replaced Les Mis or Wicked but has made it to the top three. I so love Helpless over You’ll be Back as that has some very dark threatening lyrics.

    • Shanna Swendson

      I definitely love “Helpless.” But “You’ll Be Back” is just so catchy that it turns into an earworm and I can’t get it out of my head.

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