Review: HAMILTON (Disney+)

A revolution led by song and love

“Hamilton: An American Musical” is a sensational, unapologetically diverse telling of the birth of the American experiment. This filmed stage production is, without a doubt, the number one thing to watch this Independence Day weekend.

The brainchild of writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton” was inspired by Ron Chernow’s 2005 biography “Alexander Hamilton.” The idea for this landmark show started with Miranda reading Chernow’s work while on vacation. Having found success with the musical “In the Heights,” he decided to use the biography for an album called “The Hamilton Mixtape.”

His high-concept was revolutionary: telling the story of the United States’ formation using hip hop and R&B music techniques.

Miranda was so confident in his initial efforts that he performed the future musical’s opening number, the now-iconic “Alexander Hamilton,” at a White House dinner in 2009. Look it up on YouTube; it’s flat-out fantastic!

That popular performance for President Obama and a ballroom full of Washington elite created quite a stir. The finished product, “Hamilton: An American Musical,” premiered Off-Broadway in 2014 and quickly became a phenomenon. Garnering numerous awards, including a Pulitzer for Miranda, the show has sold a reported $1 billion in tickets.

Naturally, given the exponential success of the musical, a cinematic adaptation would be mounted. Miranda’s “In the Heights,” for example, has been adapted into a theatrical motion picture directed by Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and is set for a 2021 release.

But the magic of “Hamilton” and the musical genre itself is the spontaneity of stage. Every individual performance is, in its own way, a unique experience. And by creatively filming one of those performances, the hope is to preserve part of that experience.

Read the rest of Jonathan’s review online and in print in the Times-Herald:

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