Who left the musical Hamilton on Broadway
musical: "Hamilton": US history in the rap battle
Looking at the current situation, one can also be glad that Alexander Hamilton did not get through with some demands for the US constitution. For example, that of a lifetime term for the president. That this consideration, which is relatively fatal by today's standards, was probably due to his loyalty to President George Washington, is one of the insights that can be taken from the musical "Hamilton".
The play about one of the founding fathers of the USA was the greatest Broadway success of the past few years. The actor Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote it after reading Ron Chernov's biography of this historical figure, which is depicted on the ten-dollar bill, but otherwise less prominent. But Hamilton's life story also fits too well into a popular dramaturgy: an abandoned orphan from the Caribbean islands works his way up to become the first finance minister and co-architect of the United States - and dies a tragic death in a duel with a former friend.
Hopelessly sold out
From now on - in time for Independence Day on July 4th - a filmed version of the play can be seen on the Disney + streaming service. Director Tommy Kail filmed three live performances on Broadway in 2016 and cut the film from them. The release was brought forward about a year and a half: The film was actually supposed to come to the cinema in autumn 2021, but Corona and the long-term closure of Broadway (until the beginning of 2021) meant that the musical lull is at least ended on the screen. For many people interested in pop culture in our part of the world, this is the first opportunity to see this hype up close. Because performances by "Hamilton" were hopelessly sold out from the start. On the black market, tickets came to an impressive 2,000 euros, fans camped for nights in front of the theater in the hope of returned tickets.
The resounding success - also with the awards from the Tonys downwards - is due to the surprising shape, which stands out from the musical monotony due to the curious mixture at first glance: In "Hamilton" the historical figures in historical costumes are spread over a wide area Rapped tracks, now and then there are soul and jazz elements (when Thomas Jefferson has a gig). That sounds strange, but it works perfectly - especially when Jefferson and Hamilton fight political debates as a rap battle, that has its charm.
Whites are black
Another special feature of "Hamilton" is in keeping with the zeitgeist: Miranda cast almost all roles with colored actors. A daring decision, given the historical figures that were verifiably white. But if you had traditionally cast, you would have had to expose yourself to the criticism that only white, old men were in the foreground again - even if they were the actors at the time. So a clever trick by Miranda, and also a pioneering achievement in how the irrelevant skin color effectively recedes behind the role. In addition, an effective line of defense for those who complain: "Nice anyway, but the fact that the founding fathers of the USA were also all slave owners is not an issue." The meta-level in which the once oppressed write the story and tell it with their very own musical genres weighs quite heavily as a counter-argument.
That this is so popular with many can be seen from the fact that banners were repeatedly presented at "Black Lives Matter" protests that quoted songs from the musical: "I'm past patiently waiting" or "History has its eyes on you" . In an interview when streaming started, Miranda said: "The struggles that we fought to create this country are still waging. I've always said that slavery is the original sin of our country."
Only an original version without subtitles is currently available on Disney +. That makes it a little more difficult to follow the brisk history lesson that dances from the Revolutionary War to saving the states from bankruptcy to political intrigues - but it also makes it even clearer that "Hamilton" is a thoroughly American piece of culture. In the end, after Hamilton's death, there is still room for the historical-philosophical question of power over narration. Who will report what about whom in the future? Who stays in the collective memory, who doesn't?
Lin-Manuel Miranda made sure that Alexander Hamilton doesn't fall into oblivion anytime soon. At least when it comes to pop culture. And not just that. John Bolton's reveal book "The Room Where it Happened" about Donald Trump's presidency "quotes the song" The Room Where It Happens "from the musical - as a tragic comparison to what real statesmen of stature look like.
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