Alexander Hamilton is the name that is going to be on the tips of the tongues of the entire nation thanks to the exclusive access Disney+, has given us to the Broadway sensation.
Having taken the world by storm thanks to the musical genius of Lin Manuel Miranda and a stellar cast, Hamilton became an instant hit. Until now, its magic has been reserved for the theatre stage with the wait for the feature-length movie adaption.
Lin Manuel Miranda and Disney+ have answered all our prayers, though, and gave us the perfect quarantine present in the form of a release of a previously recorded outing by the original cast.
Join us as we discuss the undeniable magic that is Hamilton.
While on the surface, Hamilton is the story of the birth of America centered around one of its founding fathers, former Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, it is about so much more than that.
Sure, you are going to learn a lot about history that you may not have learned in school, or may have forgotten the minute you walked across the stage at graduation. Like the fact that Hamilton wore his glasses to his final duel with Burr that ended his life.
That’s not the main takeaway from the show, though.
At its core, Hamilton is a story about the search for family, love, friendship, the longing to be accepted, betrayal, the costs of envy and pride, loss, forgiveness, and the legacy that we leave behind. Miranda tells this all in the most creative musical format, I have seen.
The music of Hamilton is unbelievable. While most Broadway shows rely heavily on the typical Broadway song genre, Hamilton draws from all genres of music.
Think Hamilton is just the “rap” musical? Then someone sold you a bill of goods because it's so much more than that.
From the Reggae inspired “Wait For It” and “Non-Stop” to the 1920s Jazz inspired songs like “The Room Where It Happens” to R&B like the epic ballad “Satisfied” and “Say No To This,” mixed in with rap, hip hop, and musical theatre.
The soundtrack hits all the right notes.
Not only does the music allow the historical story to feel current and fresh, but it also lends itself to creative storytelling choices.
One of the highlights that almost had me jumping off my couch with excitement was turning the cabinet meetings into rap battles.
How genius to take what could have been stuffy debates and turn them into sharp-tongued rap battles that show that words deliver just as hard of blows as fists. This is how you get people interested in politics.
The award-winning music elevates what is an undeniably, compelling story. The story that Lin Manuel Miranda has weaved allows us to get invested in these characters and events that helped to define our country.
Of course, the facts were there for him, but he is the one who brought these people back to life and fully fleshed them out in mere moments on stage.
Within one minute of the musical, you know who Hamilton is as a person. We are privy to the tragic life events that defined him and influence the decisions he makes over the next two hours.
Hamilton is an incredibly intelligent, well-spoken man, but lurking below the surface is a broken man who longs to be accepted because he has spent so much of his life alone.
We see him get his first dose of acceptance when he meets Laurens, Lafayette, and Mulligan. The four are entertaining as all hell from the moment they are brought together on stage. I could watch an entire spin-off of their drunken antics.
More than that they are four men who share the same ideals, and the three men accept Hamilton without a second thought because his words inspired them. Without them, Hamilton may have never become the man he was.
It isn’t just the people who support us who help define who we are, but the ones that challenge us as well. Leslie Odom Jr., as Aaron Burr, is the perfect foil to Miranda’s Hamilton.
The most compelling villains are not the ones who are purely evil, but those who are inherently good and get lost along the way. That is exactly what happened to Burr.
Burr truly thought remaining neutral his whole life would help him climb the ranks. To see the outspoken opinionated Hamilton continually rise above him killed him.
It was that exact difference that was each of their downfalls. Hamilton couldn’t support Burr because he didn’t respect his beliefs, or lack thereof them, which ultimately cost Burr the presidential election.
Hamilton’s need to voice his opinions about Burr vs. Jefferson, taking the presidency away from Burr, led to his death at Burr’s hands during a duel.
Two men who could have empowered each other ultimately destroyed each other, and that is exactly how you create a rivalry that feels true to life.
It was impossible to dislike Burr with Odom Jr. portraying him. There is a charisma that he exudes that you cannot ignore. The way he slips between the hard delivery rapping to the softness of his singing shows the dimensions of the character.
His shining moment comes during his performance of “Wait For It.” It puts on display all of his desires, pain, envy, and resentment. It shows that in his story Hamilton is the villain, and he is the hero.
Hamilton himself was far from a perfect character, reminding us that it is not one single thing that defines us or one choice that we make. We are the sum of all of the decisions and moments of our lives.
At the end of the day, Hamilton was undeniably himself. He embraced his imperfections. When Jefferson, Madison, and Burr threatened to destroy him, he destroyed himself and owned his mistakes.
What may be most interesting about his character is the fact that despite how much he longs for closeness, he constantly self sabotages. He pushes Washington away, he holds an inappropriate relationship with Angelica, and he cheats on Eliza.
It’s almost as if no matter how much he wants that connection, he doesn’t feel deserving of it.
Miranda plays Hamilton as a man with a lost little boy living inside him to absolute perfection. No matter what a strong front he puts on, we see small moments showing how broken he is inside.
We see it when he asks his new friends if he is being too loud, afraid they won’t accept him. We see it again when he lashes out at Washington for calling him son.
I can’t imagine a world where Miranda doesn’t play Hamilton, but Miranda has created such a compelling character that it is impossible not to want to see the show live despite him no longer being in the role.
The men may be front and center through the events of the show, but the women of Hamilton’s life are the heart of the show and are the most underrated aspect.
Renee Elise Goldsberry was so powerful as Angelica Schuyler. I’ve seen Goldsberry in other things, most recently Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Season 1, but never quite like this.
Her maid of honor speech turned flashback “Satisfied” was one of my favorite moments of the entire show and was immediately added to my Spotify playlist.
While Goldsberry shined as the sassy and sultry member of the Schuyler sisters, Phillipa Soo played the softer Eliza Schuyler turned Hamilton with so much heart that you couldn’t help but fall in love with her.
The second that she broke out into “Helpless,” you wanted to protect her at all costs. She far from needed it though. She had all the strength she needed within herself.
Watching Eliza take a stand and burn her letters from her husband to declare her power and strength while she sang “Burn” was extraordinary to watch and brought tears to my eyes.
It also says so much that at the show’s end, it is her legacy that they tell. Yes, she was the woman behind a great man, but she was a great woman in her own right.
Historical dramas can often suffer from a dark tone, but while tragedy plagues the events and characters of the show, it is the comedic undertone that is what viewers will remember.
The true greatest comedic performances of Hamilton come from Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and Jonathan Groff as King George.
Diggs was great during the first act as Lafayette, but he rose to another level when he took on the role of Secretary of State, and eventual President, Thomas Jefferson. He lights up all of his scenes.
You want to hate him as he and Madison go after Hamilton and Washington, but then he opens his mouth, and gold comes out, and you forget every reason you have to despise him.
Groff may not have gotten as much stage time as his fellow cast members, but he owned every single moment of it. It was physically impossible not to laugh when he was on the stage.
Whether he was delivering one of his speeches condemning his former subjects in America or dancing in the corner or raining down papers on Hamilton, he was a comedic genius.
I’ve loved Groff in everything. This was such a different role, yet it is made for him.
Hamilton is the type of show that will stay with you long after the cast takes their final bow, and it is worth all of the two hours and forty minutes that you spend with it.
You will laugh, cry, dance, and learn a history lesson or two along the way, and as soon as you finish, you will want to do it all over again, proving exactly why it is the Broadway show that has defined a generation.
Have you checked out Hamilton on Disney+ yet?
Did you see the original on Broadway or have you caught it on its Off-Broadway tour?
Hit up the comments section below with your own thoughts on this groundbreaking musical!
Meaghan Frey was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in September 2020.