Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, wrote an impressive majority of the Federalist Papers, and was involved in America’s very first political sex scandal.
Therefore, it only made sense to adapt his life story into a ground-breaking hip-hop Broadway musical several hundreds of years later. At least, that’s what a young Lin Manuel Miranda once postulated upon reading the founding father’s biography that he had purchased in an airport nearly seven years before the show’s debut.
Hamilton was by no means a guaranteed success, so considering that it went on to become one of Broadway’s most successful shows came as a surprise to many. It attracted younger audiences and some atypical Broadway fans, myself included. I liked the musical almost instantaneously. I had the pleasure of finally seeing the performance live this summer in Oklahoma City with a group of friends, and it was phenomenal.
Unfortunately, the original cast is no longer performing the show, but that allowed me to enjoy the new cast’s own take on the show, which was really fun. For example, in the original recording, Leslie Odom Jr. portrays Aaron Burr, the antagonist of the play who eventually kills Hamilton in a duel.
His lines in the original show tell the story of Burr’s contempt and annoyance with Hamilton throughout the musical, but Odom Jr. added a hint of admiration and jealousy to the role. However, when Nik Walker delivered the same lines in Oklahoma City, there was a quiet rage in the place of jealousy. It was very clever, as they were both telling the same story with different emotional properties.
As for the rest of the cast, the stand out was easily Erin Clemmons’s portrayal of Eliza, Hamilton’s love interest. The vocal range needed to correctly deliver her lines is the most diverse throughout the entire show, yet Clemmons hit every note with astounding ease.
Another cast member that did exceptionally well was Jon Patrick Walker, who played King George. King George could be considered the comic relief character of the show, despite his brief appearances throughout the show.
Walker did the impossible and added even more flare to an already extremely melodramatic character, and not once did it seem forced.
Despite nearly everyone doing a phenomenal job, I found it rather disappointing that Joseph Morales, the star of the show, was the weakest of the listed talent. Perhaps it was due to such amazing performances from everyone else, but his delivery fell short.
He rarely showed emotion, even during the climax of the show. He seemed to have added a false “surfer” accent to the part, an exceptionally odd choice. It got to the point where I half expected him to finish a line with “bro, wicked.”
Nevertheless, it was still an amazing performance and I absolutely loved the experience. It’s very rare to find a piece of mainstream media that is both extremely successful and entertaining that leaves you with a desire to learn more about American history.
Hamilton: An American Musical is available in its entirety on Spotify, and you can buy the original biography from which the show was inspired, “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. If you haven’t gotten around to listening to it, I strongly recommend that you do. At its core, the main theme of the show is redemption and legacy versus reputation.
What will we be remembered for after we’re gone? For Hamilton, it seemed like the only thing he would be remembered for is the scandal that took place right at the prime of his career.
He was almost forgotten to history, as many historians viewed him as a stain on the American foundation. However, his story kept getting told which allowed a spark of his legacy to live on. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that Lin Manuel used the spark to reignite the flame.