I will preface the article by saying this is not a review of newly added to Disney+ Broadway musical Hamilton, no this an an opinion piece on how I have come to accept the phenomenon that it has become.
My first introduction to Hamilton Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was through his work on Disney animated hit Moana, where he wrote the Dwayne Johnson rapped track ‘You’re Welcome’ (He also released a version of the track himself alongside fellow Disney darling Jordan Fisher) as well as the title track ‘How Far I’ll Go’ which garnered him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song (check out the demo track for this,which featured his stage wife from Hamilton, Phillipa Soo)
Disney animated hit Moana, for which Miranda wrote two tracks
Then came the announcement that he would replace Dick Van Dyke as the male lead in what I would say was a 40 years too late sequel to a favourite film of mine, Mary Poppins. While the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns doesn’t compare to the original, there are some standout performances, the main one being Miranda’s performance as Jack the Lamplighter, who actually ends the film giving me a reason to want to see another film in the series.
While the announcement had originally got my back up, as nothing would beat the original, actually catching his performance, gave me an appreciation of Lin as a performer.
Obviously I had heard of Hamilton before all of this, but never really connected the two. To put it in to context, when people make such a fuss about something, I tend to avoid said thing. I don’t like to be pressured into liking something. I don’t want my opinion to be clouded by others. Hamilton came into that category. I had avoided it like like the plague.
So honestly it wasn’t until he made an appearance on the Graham Norton Show, a chat show here in the UK of similar ilk to Late Night talk shows, where Miranda was promoting Mary Poppins Returns, while also deep in rehearsals to return to the role he wrote for himself, Alexander Hamilton, for a fund raising event in his home country of Puerto Rico, where Norton requested a performance of one of his early tracks from the show ‘My Shot’
To say I was mesmerised would be an understatement, but still I didn’t get ‘it’. While the musical style was not really my taste, I also didn’t understand how it fitted the story that came with the background that it had. What did intrigue me was the story itself, with a surname like Washington, that really isn’t a surprise. (George Washington’s grandfather was born not far from where I grew up, so the likelihood is there is some relation along the way).
But still I wasn’t going to go out of my way to see the show, while I did download ‘My Shot’ just cause it caught my attention. Then came the announcement that Disney had purchased the rights to a filmed version of the Broadway Show featuring the original cast, including Miranda, that would be released in cinemas in 2021.
Fast forward to July 2020, the world had changed, as had Disney and Miranda’s plans for Hamilton. No longer a cinema release in 2021, but a Disney+ release this month, so I took the plunge and downloaded the rest of the soundtrack so that I knew the full extent of what was coming before I watched the movie. And boy was my opinion changed. While it still isn’t my regular musical tastes, my god was the writing and the performances ever so clever.
Then came the show and wow I was blown away. Not just from what I already knew, but just what a marvel it was. From the stage setting, story and mostly the performances on that stage, Stand outs for me are Soo as Eliza, Daveed Diggs as Lafayette/Jefferson, Jonathon Groff as King George and of course Miranda as Hamilton.
While my opinion as to the fact it isn’t my type of music hasn’t changed, Hamilton is a theatrical marvel, creating something new in the musical theatre genre. All the while telling a story of some very important moments in history, in a sometimes hysterical but heart breaking way, even though it does take some liberties with some of the facts.
I can only recommend watching this on Disney+, but all the while now thinking I probably won’t ever attempt to see the show live on the West End or Broadway, having been spoilt with this version, with the original cast from the comfort of my own sofa.
What I do look forward to is seeing what comes next from Miranda. A movie version of his first musical, Into the Heights, is due in the next 12 months, as well as some song writing for the upcoming Little Mermaid live action remake that Disney are currently filming (also starring Diggs as Sebastian), that I can only see being the tip of the iceberg for the Puerto Rican National.