“How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”
The opening line of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s most recent musical creation, “Hamilton,” sets the stage for a fast-paced, informative, moving and rebellious recounting of classic American history. With a cast of primarily Black and Hispanic actors to play the Founding Fathers, Miranda reckons that this is representative of America as it is now — a melting pot of cultures and diversity. This casting call and many other details solidify Miranda’s role as one of the greatest playwrights of his generation.
It seems like the entire world is buzzing about “Hamilton.” Since its recent debut on Broadway, the musical and its cast have received more praise than ever for exceptional performances, impressive vocals and unique linguistic characteristics. The album, which was released on Sept. 25, combines history with hip hop and educates a modern population on how America was founded. Rap, R&B and ballads intertwine seamlessly to tug on heartstrings and remind us of what it means to strive to prove your worth.
Last spring, I had the privilege of flying out to New York for 24 hours to see “Hamilton” off-Broadway. Sitting in the second row and being spat on by Jonathan Groff dressed in full monarchial garb is still one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton’s rap battle is one that awill live on in my heart forever. “Hamilton” keeps the audience’s attention through its subtle humor and quickly executed lyrics and presenting a figure of American history often overshadowed by his presidential counterparts.
I am currently taking an English class titled American Adolescence, which focuses on common themes throughout children’s and young adult literature, such as revolution, rebellion and friendship. “Hamilton” is truly a story of America in its adolescence, morphing into different ideals and setting the precedence of what is to come. It speaks to and incites youth with ideas of uprising and transformation, and reminds the world of the fragility of the era. Rather than staying stagnant as a play about the past, Miranda creates a story that allows people to become deeply nostalgic for not only America’s history, but their own.
“Hamilton” makes history accessible to a younger generation and inspires others to look into their own past. Despite how important we may think we are, millions have lived before us and millions more will live after us. In focusing on the life of one man and watching his impact on history, it forces the audience to recognize its relationship to others and the influence they have on lives around them.
“Hamilton” ’s story is one that identifies the brutality of war, the pain of defeat and the glory of success. So … what is your story?
Listen to the full Hamilton soundtrack online here.