contemporary · discussion · review

Hamilton: The Revolution – Lin Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter

“For all its variety of style and subject, rap is, at the bottom, the music of ambition, the soundtrack of defiance.”


Blurb: “Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.”

Hamilton was something that initially passed me by. I was very much aware that it was a hip-hop musical about an American Founding Father and on both counts it was something I just wasn’t interested in. That changed when I found out that Jonathan Groff (known for his TV role in Glee) had a part in the original broadway cast. Shortly after that I passed my driving test and needed some new CDs to blast out on drives. It was in this moment that I came across the Hamilton soundtrack and figured I’d give it a go.

There are not enough words in the English language to describe this musical. Words like “masterpiece” and “genius” just seem to fall far too short of conveying just how spectacular the songs in this show are (sadly, I am yet to see it actually performed on stage).

Hamilton: The Revolution is an absolute must for fans of this show, or musical theatre fans in general. It goes into enormous depth about the origins of Lin-Manuel Mirandra’s interests in this particular historical figure and how he originally intended for the project to be a hip hop album, not a musical. Everything you can possibly imagine from historical context, the original cast, production, costume design, to the initial reaction when it hit broadway is covered in these pages with focused chapters on each.

Every song performed in the show acts as the transition onto the next aspect of the show and are all linked. For example, a chapter about Jonathan Groff getting his part as King George is followed by page spreads of the lyrics to “You’ll Be Back” with footnotes on certain lines where Lin explains what he was trying to convey in the beats, timings and actual words themselves. I feel that the use of spreads dedicated to the shows was one of my favourite parts of this whole book. In a musical where the songs carry so much weight and meaning to them, it was fascinating to see the clever tricks Lin used to make certain phrases as catchy as they are along with historical context along with some facts that he tweaked a bit to fit the songs better.

Did you know that the track “My Shot” actually took Lin a year to write?

There are many more secrets unveiled in this book that left me dumbfounded. It is mind-blowing the amount of work that, not only he but the rest of the team poured into this show.

I truly believe that Hamilton is a show that will stand the test of time. After all, history has its eyes on you.

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