Hamilton: An American Musical – Review and Ramblings

Okay, so if you’ve followed literally anything in the past few months you probably have heard of Hamilton. If you’re not at all interested in it, you’re probably rolling your eyes pretty hardcore right now because, oh look!, another post about it.
Whoops, sorry.
If you do like Hamilton, you’re probably bobbing your head in excitement (or because immediately, just after hearing the last name of one of our founding fathers, there were about a million rap songs running through your head, and how do you not head-bob along to those?)
Also, you might be kind of annoyed because I’ve finally started blogging again and my first post back isn’t even really book related, but it kind of is. Also, Hamilton. Also… I really feel like it kind of is. Just wait for it (wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, I AM THE ONE THING IN LIFE I CAN CONTROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL)
At the end of June, my family was lucky enough to be able to travel to New York to see Hamilton on Broadway. We bought our tickets months in advance, fortunately before Lin-Manuel announced when he would be leaving, because otherwise it really would’ve been impossible to get tickets. I was really excited because I had never been to New York or a Broadway show and HAMILTON WHAT?
If you have no idea what Hamilton is, here’s a super summarized version of the incredible story: This fantastic guy named Lin-Manuel Miranda who used to have a siq ponytail (and who I still respect even though he cut it off) read a biography of Alexander Hamilton and was inspired to write a hip-hop musical which went on to win 12 Tony’s and change my entire life.
TL;DR: (seriously, you couldn’t even read the super summarized version? Fine.) HAMILTON IS SO GOOD. WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS? LOVE YOURSELF.

My sister discovered Hamilton before anyone else in my family and at first we all kind of made fun of her because it seemed like any phrase we said could prompt her to go into a rap about a founding father. However, sometimes being around something so much can get you kind of attached to it, and then you end up realizing that a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton is exactly what you never knew you needed. And because my sister just graduated high school and will be headed off to college pretty far away from where we live, my family decided to take a family vacation together during our last summer with everyone living at home; they definitely knew how to make it memorable.
We saw Hamilton on our third day in New York, and we did lots of other fun things as well but I won’t get into that because this is probably going to be a very long post already.
So we got to the show and waited outside for a while for the doors to open. I was freaking out the entire time because my sister had found some online horror stories where people got to the show only to find out that their tickets weren’t real. There really wasn’t any reason for me to be concerned, but I totally was. Like shaking with nervousness.

hamilton sign
(hence this extremely shaking and awful picture of the sign, whoops)
We got up to the front of the line and they scanned our tickets. I was too nervous to really pay attention to anyone else, so when I heard The Beep when my ticket was scanned I had no idea what it meant.
Good beep? Bad beep? Beep in The Adams Administration after “Hamilton publishes his response!”?
It was a good beep, and my panic only lasted about two seconds before I was ushered in so the next person could get beeped, but it was extremely dramatic in my head.
We get our little playbills and got to our seats. Inside the playbill there was a list of people who were going to be doing the show that night (I’m sorry if it’s like this for literally every show ever, I’m new at seeing things like this). We had basically all of the original cast* with the exception of Jonathon Groff. I would’ve loved to see him because, you know, he’s Jonathon Groff, but Rory O’Malley absolutely killed it and I can’t imagine how it could’ve been any better – the sass and humor in King George’s songs translate amazingly to the stage.

(And speaking of the stage… it was incredible. The entire theatre was so beautiful. There were tiny little TVs on the wall area of the higher up seats (does that make any sense?) facing the stage, so if you turned around you could see the piano being played in the pit, which was cool)
Then all of a sudden the lights were dimming and the show was starting. I’m pretty sure that the message to turn your phones off was something cute-sy and related to the show, but I was too excited that I honestly don’t remember at all. Is it possible to faint from excitement? I was almost to that point, but I calmed my self down because I didn’t want to miss Hamilton because I landed myself in the emergency room.

er we are meant to be.gif

Now, if you like Hamilton or you watched the Tony’s, you’ll be very familiar with the opening number. It’s casual, slower rapping, talking about the “ten dollar founding father without a father”. You don’t have to be too profoundly intelligent to realize who they’re talking about – Alexander Hamilton (hence the title of the musical – wow!). However, that doesn’t make the big reveal any less dramatic, in the song and especially in person.

Well the word got around, they said, this kid is insane, man!
Took up a collection just to send him to the mainland.
Get your education don’t forget from whence you came,
And the world’s gonna know your name,
What’s your name, man?

Then Lin-Manuel Miranda, this majestic, ponytailed genius comes walking out, and you can barely hear “Alexander Hamilton” over the screams.
(And it’s kind of funny how that works. Imagine if a couple years ago someone told you that the name “Alexander Hamilton” would send a room full of people of all ages into absolute hysteria. It would’ve seemed crazy. It still is crazy.)
Lin-Manuel, who’s like, my favorite person, favorite writer, favorite Tweeter, and phone lockscreen, proceeds to stand there as the screams die down. It gives me chills every time I think about it. Normally I’m not one to really obsess over celebrities or anything like that, and while I’m ecstatic that I got to see him, I feel like the part that sticks with me the most is thinking about what he must feel. He got to stand on a stage in front of a sold-out crowd almost every night for months, and he got himself there. He got to work hard for so many years and then was met with such overwhelming, visible success.
I’ll probably make another separate post just about this sometime, but I just think that would be amazing. To be able to easily see how much you’ve changed the world. You think about J.K. Rowling, who wrote seven books, and forever changed history. Maybe not in the same way that wars and politics do, but in ways that are equally unfathomable when you think about it (is it unfathomable if you can think about it? I’m rambling.) There’s a Harry Potter world in Orlando now that has many, many people working at it. Her books led to some people’s careers. Her books led to movies that kickstarted actors’ careers and fame.
We’re talking changed lives people.
And that’s kind of why I love Hamilton so much. It’s just one of those things, and I really think this is only the beginning.
Plus, the music is fantastic. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to see the show or if you have any interest in history. Anyone can appreciate it. It’s also not just hip-hop. There’s such a good mix that literally anyone could find at least one song that they enjoy. My personal favorites (in no particular order) are:

  1. Satisfied
  2. Wait for It
  3. Dear Theodosia
  4. Burn
  5. Guns and Ships
  6. Farmer Refuted
  7. Washington on Your Side
  8. It’s Quiet Uptown
  9. The World Was Wide Enough
  10. One Last Time

If you haven’t listened to the album yet, give it a try. It’s only like, three hours long, which seems kind of long in hindsight but not when you consider that you might discover something you really like. You can listen to most of it on YouTube I think, buy it on iTunes (you won’t regret it) or listen to it on Spotify. I’ve heard of some people who were planning to see it who only listened to the first act so that the second act could be a complete surprise for them. I had the first act completely memorized by the time I saw it, but a lot of the second half was pretty new to me, mainly because my sister and I would listen to the discs when we played ping-pong and I would beat her so quickly (LOL) that we wouldn’t even get to Dear Theodosia. I did like having some things that felt more new when I saw it. No matter what you plan to do, you can definitely just search for the album on Spotify and then listen to it through, but if you want to listen to it in a playlist that I feel is more appropriately titled (“AHHH”) feel free to hit up mine right here. You can follow me if you want; I have literally the worst taste in music.
The last thing I’m going to talk about before I get into kind of spoiler-y stuff about the show (haha you thought this was close to being over, didn’t you?) is the book. Everyone calls it the Hamiltome, but I think technically it’s called Hamilton: The Revolution (Goodreads confirms). I can’t say that I think you would like it if you aren’t already a fan of the music and know it pretty well, but if you are… get. on. that. I read it as soon as I got home from seeing the show and there’s definitely tear stains on my copy. Again, it’s not that the book is particularly sad, I just overthink things and really want to be a writer and reading about the journey and all of the victories makes me happy cry. I’m a mess, sorry ’bout it.
The book includes every song in the show with annotations from Lin about his writing process, different inspirations, etc. It also has many different little stories written by different people involved with the process and they were honestly so good. I was worried that I would be tempted to skip over them to just keep reading through the lyrics, but that just wasn’t the case.
Finally, it’s just a beautifully made book if you’re into judging things like that (aren’t we all?) Solid binding, deckled edges, thick paper (my tears didn’t bleed through to the other pages). Again, definitely worth the investment if or when you realize that you are hopelessly attached to the show and can’t get enough.

The Show (Spoilers about little things that you might not want to read if you’re planning on seeing it!)

Some things transferred so differently (but so well) to the stage than I thought they would. I was constantly surprised. For example, after the wedding scene in Satisfied, Alexander was high-fiving all his friends and whatnot, and then he literally dabbed. Not going to lie, it was the first time someone ever dabbed and I didn’t hate it.
And speaking of Satisfied (and really all of the songs I guess) the stage had two turntables on it that would rotate and the choreography was absolutely fantastic because of it. The whole “Rewind” part in Satisfied was just so, so incredibly done. I was blown away.

schulyer sisters.jpg
Also, Daveed Diggs. Daveed Diggs, man. He’s just so great. If I’m being honest, I didn’t really know much about the performers other than Lin before I saw the show, but I left with a profound appreciation for all of them, Daveed in particular. He’s just hilarious. The attitude and the accent, and the two roles (Jefferson and La Fayette) performed so incredibly… I just don’t even know what to say. The rap battles, everything. SO GOOD.

daveed
The Reynold’s Pamphlet was never really one of my favorites (not to say that it was bad, everything is amazing), but seeing it on stage really changed my perspective. Picture Jefferson, Burr, King George – everyone! – “making it rain” with the Reynold’s Pamphlet, all around Hamilton. Even the guy in the pit reached up and got one handed to him. It was just really, really well done.
Also (I need to find more transition words), the mockery! I don’t really know how to explain it, but certain parts where you wouldn’t really have noticed things were being made fun of without facial expressions or hand gestures in just the album were so sarcastic! “Talk less, smile more” was consistently referenced, mimicking the same hand gestures that Burr uses when he first shares that advice with Hamilton. And my favorite? In The Room Where it Happens, the line about “You get love for it, you get hate for it, you get nothing if you wait for it, wait for it”? Not only is it referencing the past song, but it’s totally making fun of it. Good stuff.
Finally, in “A Winter’s Ball” when the line goes, “But what do we have in common” and Alexander, Burr and Laurens say, “We’re reliable with the ladies” they slide across the stage all dramatically. It was such a little thing but it was one of my favorite parts. They all just looked so funny in their olden-outfits, and they looked like they were having so much fun. It made me happy.
I could go on forever. I’m not going to, though, because I know that I’ll probably bring Hamilton up more in future posts and I’d hate to make you get sick of something so wonderful.
I hope that you listen to Hamilton and love it. I hope that if you’ve already listened to Hamilton, you get to see it and love it. I hope that if you’ve already seen Hamilton, you get to see it again. And if you’ve already seen Hamilton 1,000 times, I hope you casually bump into Lin-Manuel on the street and he gives you a high-five, because how cool would that be?

lin legs.gif

If you’ve stuck along this long, thanks for reading! With the exception of the first three, I do not own any of the images/gifs used in this post. Feel free to comment down below and let me know if you like Hamilton, and if so what your thoughts are on literally everything! You can keep up with me here by following or subscribing by email, and in other places by following me down below.
Happy reading! 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Hamilton: An American Musical – Review and Ramblings

  1. I AM SO JEALOUS. Hamilton is just my life I would die if I saw it. You’re experience sounds amazing and LIN YOU SAW LIN AHHHH HOW LUCKY !!! I cannot wait for the day I see it, even if it’ll never be with the original cast. What a phenomenal thing it is I just love it oh my god

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hamilton is my favourite thing and I’m so glad that I was introduced to it! I think my favourite songs are One Last Time, Guns and Ships, Burn and Wait For it… and everything by King George! I really wish I could watch it but unfortunately I don’t live in New York… I don’t even live in the US! But it’s coming to the West End next year so hopefully I might have a chance to watch it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Please hold while I glare at you, because now I have the entire soundtrack back in my head. I’ve finally stopped playing the darn soundtrack, especially when the past month I’d been playing it nooooooon-stop (gentlemen of the jury, I’m curious, bear with me…GAH).

    I tend not to have an absolute favorite song, though the songs I’d currently been repeating over and over were Wait For It, The Schuyler Sisters, Satisfied, and Right Hand Man. (Before it had been You’ll Be Back, One Last Time, and Non-Stop, haha).

    That said, did you manage to peruse the Hamilton companion book? One of my friends let me browse it, and it has all of the lyrics with Lin-Manuel’s annotations to the side. It’s fabulous (and I’m thinking of getting a copy for myself…but maybe when I can justify splurging my budget on it, XD).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha I’m sorry! My favorites tend to rotate as well – when I first started listening I would just skip to King George. I do have the Hamilton companion book and I love it! The annotations are so fun and it also has little stories written in between the different sections of songs. I really enjoyed it (I actually read it all the way through which seems crazy looking back, but I couldn’t stop!). Definitely worth getting if you’re interested and can justify it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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