Hamilton: The Broadway Revolution By Arin garland

On Aug. 6, 2015, co-author of the Constitution and creator of the National Bank, Alexander Hamilton, came together with catchy tunes and rap to create one of the most critically acclaimed musicals of all time. “Hamilton” won 11 Tony awards, including best musical, out of 16 nominations, the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

So who came up with the idea to mix together our Founding Fathers with dance, makeup, and rap? His name is Lin-Manuel Miranda, as you may have already heard. His name, along with the musical, has exploded. Everywhere people are talking about a genius composer who, inspired by big shot rappers such as Jay Z and Kanye West, composed the most popular musical album of all time. As a result of "Hamilton’s" success, Miranda has been asked to co-compose songs for some of the biggest movies of 2016, such as Star Wars, and Disney’s new Movie, Moana. The style of Maui's rap is strikingly similar to the style found throughout "Hamilton" specifically in the song "My Shot."

Not only has the musical score intrigued audiences, but the cast itself. One would expect a historical musical to try to display the historical characters as accurately as possible, including their race. However, "Hamilton" surprised many audiences with a mixed race cast, opening doors not only to it’s musical interpretation, but it’s historical interpretation. In an interview with the Rolling Stones, Miranda said “the idea has always been to look the way America looks now, and that doesn’t exclude anyone.”

(Left to right) Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton

In another interview with the Rolling Stones Miranda said that his “secret dream” for the musical was for the hip-hop community to “embrace” the musical. There was a generally assumed separation between musicals and rap. “The hip-hop world and the Broadway world really didn't know each other or meet, and for the most part, the hip-hop community missed the show,” Miranda said. Just the musicals Hair and Next to Normal did for Rock, his goal was for Hamilton to do the same for rap: to be added to the musical vocabulary. Leora Wong '18, saw the musical when it first came out off Broadway, and said that she had already seen one of Miranda's other works "In The Heights" and "Hamilton" was "a thousand times better. The rap was "unconventional and unique" and surprisingly worked well with the historical theme. Good news for Miranda, because according to Wong and many others across America, his big plans to combine rap and musical was a success.

"The hip-hop world and the Broadway world really didn't know each other"

Another factor that adds to the appeal of the musical experience are the chances of meeting a celebrity in the audience. The number of A-list celebrities who attended the show is record-setting, ranging from artists such as Jay Z and Beyoncé, Eminem, and Kanye West, to actors like Jennifer Lopez, Emma Watson and Neil Patrick Harris. Even the President of the United States showed up surprising both the cast and the audience. Name any celebrity, and they are probably on this list of famous people seen in the audience. Though they may not be the main reason why some are paying thousands of dollars to see the musical, it certainly is a bonus.

The “Hamilton” phenomena has breached Connecticut's borders and found its way into Staples High School through its music. Juliana Hopper ’18 says that the musical’s playlist is the only music she listens to lately. She also says that the only thing that she asked her parents for for Christmas were tickets to “Hamilton.” “I really love the music and I think it's a really inspiring story and I've heard so much positive feedback about the show. Also I love seeing Broadway shows in general, so I think seeing the music come to life is a really cool experience,” Hopper said.

"I think seeing the music come to life is a really cool experience"

Another student at Staples contemplated about the positive effects that it had on getting the younger generation more involved in government and politics. "I certainly understand all the excitement surrounding it and I think it's great that so many people hold such positive views about it. It has done a fantastic job of getting people interested and energized about our nation's history," Angela Zhai '18 said. She also says that the musical's popularity has had perfect timing. She says that the musical gives historical insight as to how our Constitution was formed, and also the limits and capabilities of the president which played in big role in the 2016 election.

So what makes this musical worth $500, and sometimes even $2,000? The New York Times also considers this question, and concludes similarly; that "Hamilton" was made popular through a combination of its unconventional take on history, it's audience of A-list celebrities, its unconventional cast but most importantly the music. Below is one of the most popular songs from the musical. See if you can figure out just what makes it so good.

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