Alright, I’ll admit it: I’m a Hamilton rookie.
I’d heard of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterwork – knew of the hype, the logo, and had seen a low-res YouTube clip of My Shot (I don’t live under a rock). But that was it. I hadn’t listened religiously to the soundtrack since it came out, as one of my friends in attendance did. I hadn’t watched bootleg tapings of the show like some (the shame! Support artists!). I went into it with few preconceived notions of what to expect.
I get it now, guys. It was that good.
I was lucky enough to score tickets for Toronto’s production of Hamilton thanks to my status as Mirvish season ticket holder. Many people became subscribers this year for a prestigious Hamilton ticket alone. Torontonians waited a long time for this thing.
I attended the show on March 12, 2020. 2 days later, performances were cancelled through April 12 due to COVID-19. This necessary safeguard unfortunately comes at a terrible cost to all those eagerly awaiting their own chance to see the show. Not to mention tickets weren’t attainable for all. So, I’ll tell you my experience, and I hope it will just get you excited to see it for yourselves sometime – a filmed version of the original cast is coming to movie theatres in 2021 and Disney+ in 2022.
Hamilton is a play about history, of course. At its most basic, it is the story of Alexander Hamilton from his immigration to New York to his death (not a spoiler – it happened in 1804). Hamilton brings history to life. It makes the Founding Fathers feel like people, rather than just names in a textbook. I was happy to see that, despite some adult content, the play was deemed appropriate for ages 10 and up. This is the kind of show that could get kids interested in history.
But Hamilton is about much more than that. It’s about whose story gets told and why.
The show takes care to hire a diverse cast despite the overwhelming whiteness of the historical figures in question. Despite what some people would have you believe (see: the Idris Elba/James Bond debate), this in no way detracts from the story – in fact, it adds to it. Hamilton himself was born out of wedlock in Charlestown, Nevis, meaning he was an immigrant to America. Miranda doesn’t let you forget that immigrants have always been part of the fabric of American society – a point more pertinent than ever in the age of Trump.
Everything about the show feels original, explaining its huge success. The rap tracks are so catchy and fresh to the musical scene. I loved that the music was consistent throughout, with dialogue seamlessly woven into the songs themselves. The bold hip-hop choreography and impeccable costuming also did not disappoint.
I felt the cast of the Toronto production was incredible, but my friend, a Hamilton expert, preferred Miranda’s performance to that of Joseph Morales as Hamilton. Looks like a deep dive into the original soundtrack is in my future – and I’m not complaining.