Let’s face it, if you haven’t heard of Hamilton by now, you’ve been living under a rock. But in case you are one of those people, Hamilton is the new hit Broadway musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda about the life of the man on the ten dollar bill, founding father Alexander Hamilton.
Miranda describes Hamilton as being “the story of America then, told by America now,” which is a perfect description for this hip-hop musical full of POC. When asked about casting some of these white historical figures as POC, Miranda replied, “It’s told by America now. It should look like America now.” And it does, we see a cast that is predominantly people of color playing historical figures that were predominantly white.
Hamilton goes through Alexander’s life starting from nineteen years old at the start of what would become the American Revolution until his death at forty nine. Through raps, this unconventional musical takes a founding father we Americans never thought twice about in our history lessons, and turned him into a character we’d come to fall in love with. Every character and historical figure in this show is the same way. I really did not want to like Thomas Jefferson, but Daveed Diggs portrayed him in a way that made him funny and likable. Through this musical, we get personality from these names we’d just skim over in history lessons. They get to live again through Miranda’s writing. We learn that nothing really changes. We can find ourselves relating to the men and women that founded America, and that’s really something admirable.
And don’t even get me started on the women in this play. We see Angelica Schuyler (Renee Elise Goldsberry) speaking out against sexism in the very first scene we meet her, saying that she wants to be educated and have the same rights as any man might. Throughout the musical, she has no patience for casual sexism. She calls out Alexander when he’s doing the wrong thing (no spoilers, I promise). She puts her own interests aside in order to keep her sister happy. And on top of all this, she’s another amazing example of a person of color being cast as a white historical figure.
This musical truly is revolutionary, and is going to change Broadway. It challenges the way we’ve always done musical theatre, combining it with the music that interests the youth of today. It took white figures and made them people of color just because we could. I truly hope that this will spark a change in the theatre industry and that it will make way for more POC actors to make their way onto the stage where they belong. Will this mean a more diverse Broadway? Well, I think that this is definitely a start.
Don’t worry, I know tickets are expensive, and that not all of us can hop over to Manhattan whenever we want to see a musical. Though seeing it would be the optimal way to enjoy this amazing musical (as I hope to this summer), the musical is pretty much entirely sung through, so listening to the soundtrack will allow you to enjoy the story without dropping hundreds of dollars on a ticket. You can listen to the soundtrack for free on Spotify or YouTube! I would highly recommend giving this a shot.