One of mixed blessings of the past year has been the Daughter’s obsession with all things Alexander Hamilton. In case you’ve somehow missed the buzz, the musical Hamilton has been a Broadway and touring company phenomenon. It’s about “the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States.”
On one hand, she knows far more about the Federalist Papers than she might have. On the other hand, for a good part of the past year, it was all Hamilton, all the time. She’d go to sleep to it, wake up to it, play it during dinner, play it on road trips. I got a bit Hamiltoned out, frankly.
And yet we fuel it. For Christmas, she received a book called HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION by composer/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, “a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–‘since before this was even a show’ [which] traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.”
It’s interesting that a lot of people who’ve never even heard the music – and, as noted, I’ve heard it a LOT – have dismissed it as a rap musical, when it features a mixture of popular musical styles. Here’s a review of the original Broadway cast:
“Thanks to the arrangements by musical director Alex Lacamoire, the score includes tinkling harpsichords, schmaltzy strings, and lush choral harmonies. The Schuyler sisters—Angelica (Hamilton’s close, perhaps romantic, friend, played by Renée Elise Goldsberry), Eliza (his wife, Phillipa Soo), and Peggy (Jasmine Cephas Jones)—trade fast-talking verses and harmonize on choruses in an R&B groove that sounds like Destiny’s Child; Burr (a smashing, properly smarmy Leslie Odom Jr.) busts out with a fit of envy in the form of a razzmatazz show-tune, ‘The Room Where It Happens’ (commenting on the secret meeting among Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison at which American government’s first quid pro quo was bargained). Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs) opens the second act returning from Paris and asking, in a boogie-woogie number, ‘What’d I Miss?’ And there are several… beltable ballads. England’s King George (a hilarious Jonathan Groff) pouts about the loss of the colonies in the mode of a bouncy British breakup tune: “What comes next? / You’ve been freed. / Do you know how hard it is to lead? / You’re on your own. / Awesome. Wow. / Do you have a clue what happens now?”
And all of us now sing the mundanities of life to songs on the soundtrack. I use to try to stir the teenager in the morning, “Just get up! Just get up!” to the tune of the first song that goes “just you wait, just you wait.”
The Daughter has seen/read/listened to all of these, of course: