The filmed recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway extravaganza is total joy!
As you all know, movie theaters and Broadway theaters have temporarily been closed, because of the COVID-19 outbreak. But just in time for Independence Day, the hit Broadway sensation “Hamilton,” created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been filmed at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2016, and made its way on the Disney+ streaming service.
If you couldn’t see it on Broadway, either because of the virus or your location, then this is your opportunity to see it. I assure you it’s dazzling on all accounts. I was reminded of the “Amazing Grace” documentary last year when Alan Elliott realized Sydney Pollack’s filming of Aretha Franklin recording her “Amazing Grace” album in 1972.
Miranda’s music in “Hamilton” combines singing with rap, and each musical number (from “Alexander Hamilton” to “Satisfied” to “History Has Its Eyes on You” to “One Last Time”) is brilliantly choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler and well-performed by its star-studded cast.
You know the story of Alexander Hamilton (Miranda), the poor young chatterbox, who arrives in New York City in 1776 during the American Revolution, and meets a variety of colorful characters, while expanding his horizons-work wise.
- Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom, Jr.), the politician and lawyer, who relies on patience to determine his true destiny.
- George Washington (Christopher Jackson), the general who eventually became the 1st President of the United States (but you already knew that). At this point, he makes Hamilton his secretary.
- John Laurens (Anthony Ramos), the soldier, who becomes Hamilton’s closest friend.
- Eliza Schuyler (Phillipa Soo), daughter of General Philip Schuyler, who now becomes Mrs. Hamilton.
- Angelica Schuyler (Renee Elise Goldsberry), Eliza’s older sister, who regrets not marrying Hamilton.
- Marquis de Lafayette (Daveed Diggs), the French officer, who leads the American troops in the battles.
- King George III (Jonathan Groff), who is presented here as a goofy, comical parody.
- Maria Reynolds (Jasmine Cephas Jones), whom Hamilton had an affair with.
We now have a minute intermission. So if you were in a theater, you have 60 seconds to use the John or make a phone call. But why am I telling you this? You’re on your computer or TV or whatever you watch Disney+ on.
We make it to the second act, when we meet Thomas Jefferson (also played by Diggs) and Hamilton’s 9-year-old boy Philip (also played by Ramos), and when Hamilton acts as the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. And there’s a final confrontation between him and Burr.
Seeing this filmed recording is something to behold. The RadicalMedia cameras film the show in a glorious colors and lighting, allowing us to see the characters with their poetry, and facial expressions. You couldn’t have asked for finer performances from Miranda, Odom, Jr., Diggs, Ramos, Goldsberry, Jackson, Groff, and Soo, all of whom dance and sing their hearts out, and commit themselves full throttle. And I love how the color-blind casting isn’t offensive, but rather outspoken and passionate.
And one more thing: this was suppose to come out next year in theaters, but this virus has allowed it to find its way in the Disney+ schedule this year. That’s good, because we need some joy right now, and that’s what “Hamilton” provides.
The only times when I did get annoyed is when I kept interrupted to help out with some things in my house. Other than that, this is a musical masterpiece that deserves to be seen on stage or on your computer. Whatever comes first. Don’t even try to miss it. You simply can’t, and there’s no use trying.
Available on Disney+