Movies Reviews

Televised ‘Hamilton’ stands up to great stage shows

Lin Manuel Miranda played Alexander Hamilton in the show, which he wrote. Image is from the official Hamilton Facebook page.

Liverpool, UK – As a huge theater fan, watching Hamilton for the first time on a television screen could have been a disappointment.

It wasn’t.

I have never seen a show before this where I am so interested in every character. All the actors are fascinating to watch at work and you can’t take your eyes off anybody.

The whole cast brings life and energy to their roles, all of them contributing immensely to the overall vibrancy of the show, which became available in movie form on July 3 on the Disney+ channel.

Hamilton is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in 21st century musical theater. Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show opened on Broadway in 2015, making a massive impact on the musical world in its fairly short history.

Following the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, Miranda created a soundtrack of catchy melodies, massive solos and intricately rhyming ensemble numbers filled to the brim with rap, soul and hip hop.

A highlight for me was the “Schuyler Sisters,” a song performed by Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler), Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton) and Jasmine Cephas Jones (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds). This playful and catchy song introduces the three principal females in the show with a tune that will stay in your head for days. Their performances are excellent throughout and display vocal ranges beyond belief.

Miranda demonstrates his own theatrical abilities in his portrayal of the titular role with a great deal of charisma and displays his complex character development with ease.

Chris Jackson (Washington), Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Jefferson), Leslie Odom Jr (Burr), Okieriete Onaodowan (Mulligan/Madison), Anthony Ramos (Laurens/Philip Hamilton) and Jonathan Groff (King George) round out the principal cast with multiple actors both playing two characters.

I found the approach of having an actor play a different part in act one and act two was interesting and surprisingly effective. It didn’t feel repetitive, although it took a moment for me to register that roles had changed.

The Hamilton ensemble is incredible. The movement pieces are beautifully choreographed, making the cast seem a lot larger than it is and bringing the scenes to life with powerful vocals and great acting.

The set and lighting completely transform the environment from scene to scene, with the revolve being a major piece in the production. Beautiful costumes and an outstanding orchestra complete this show.

With a cast predominantly featuring Black, Asian and Latino performers, this show celebrates diversity and reinvents the narrative of Hamilton’s story. But it doesn’t encapsulate the extent of the cruelty and injustice integrated in Hamilton’s story and in the actions of the historical figures depicted, with topics such as slavery only being mentioned briefly in rap but not addressed in more depth.

It finds new relevance in the Black Lives Matter movement, and in a time of political unrest in America, provides a lot to think about, reflect on and actively question.

That said, Hamilton is artistically a masterpiece and a triumph of musical theatre.

I can’t imagine how much more impactful Hamilton would be to see on stage. The power of live theater can only be reflected so much in a recording (although this is a very good job) but this very successful example of a professionally filmed production will hopefully pave the way to a more accessible Broadway and West End for the whole world.

Rosie Evans is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

More Hamilton coverage from YJI

Lessons from ‘Hamilton,’ and why I threw away my shot

‘Hamilton’ gave her a new love: history

With new access to Hamilton, fans are no longer helpless

Hamilton’s revolution appeals to young people everywhere

With the Hamilton film, The World Turned Upside Down(Under)

We no longer have to wait for it. The Hamilton movie is (almost) here.

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