Hamilton intermixes rap and history

It’s the play of the 21st century. The Broadway musical, “Hamilton,” dazzles American audiences as it retells the life of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of Treasury.

Written by Puerto Rican, Lin-Manuel Miranda, this multi-award winner is charming cities from Chicago to New York and now to cities across the nation with a tour debuting in 2017.

The musical doused in American history, and is told through modern musical influences.

“The music of the play is different than any musical I’ve heard, simply because it mixes different generations of rap/hip-hop with the traditional Broadway music,” Meghan Hardwick, senior family and human services major and a fan of the musical, said. “Each style of rap/hip-hop [from different decades] is assigned to characters of different ages.”

The music, also written by Miranda, topped No. 1 for rap albums and Broadway cast albums in 2015.

“Hamilton” rose to fame quickly after performing off Broadway and is now selling out shows on Broadway.

Audiences can’t get enough of this authentic and identifiable musical.

“It’s a musical that everyone can love,” Mariah Makil, sophomore music education major said. “It’s the story of how our nation came to be. One of the coolest things Miranda has done for his musical is have an immense multicultural cast play his beloved characters. Miranda himself is Puerto Rican and every cast member is a person of color, with the exception of King George who is played by a white male.”

The musical transcends racial barriers by including the voices of Blacks and Hispanics in a history
dominated by Whites.

“Miranda has said that he wanted this story about America to be told by what America looks like now, a melting pot,” Makil said. “This has been so important for the theatre industry. As a person of color, it is very difficult to get a part on Broadway.”

Makil continued to explain that shows like The Color Purple and West Side Story allow a large number of diverse actors, but actors of color normally play stereotypical roles.

“Miranda’s approach that these beautiful, talented, amazing people can play our founding fathers has opened many eyes,” Makil, who also received the JBU Artie for best actress, said. “It gives young actors and audiences hope and shows the world that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can be successful.”

Miranda took years to perfect the script, which has many critics raving.

New York Times author, Ben Brantley, argued that the show is worth the watch as well as the hype.

“A show about young rebels grabbing and shaping the future of an unformed country, “Hamilton” is making its own resonant history by changing the language of musicals,” Brantley said. “And it does so by insisting that the forms of song most frequently heard on pop radio stations in recent years — rap, hiphop, R&B ballads — have both the narrative force and the emotional inferiority to propel a hefty musical about long-dead white men whose solemn faces glower from the green bills in our wallets.”

Hamilton’s soundtrack has the potential to become another “Wicked” sensation with every high school girl from 2009 to present memorizing every word whether or not they saw the play. But Hamilton lives out the modern tale, incorporating irony into a well-written play.

“I think it has good reviews for a number of reasons,” Hardwick said. “No. 1: History class was only fun for a few people, and I’ve learned more about the founding of the U.S. from this musical than I ever did in school. No. 2: The music catches my attention and I want to listen. No. 3: With all the chaos and doubt in our country, I think it came just in time to give the audience hope. Our founding fathers wanted the best for us, and so this musical encourages the viewer to take a stand so we can become great again.”

To listen to the soundtrack, visit Spotify and iTunes.