The Reel Review
This is the real life story of one of the lesser known but equally important of America’s founding fathers, the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamiton. This Disney+ original was filmed live over three days at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York in June 2016 with the original Broadway cast just before they ended their Tony award-winning run.
At a time when America has never before been so politically divided, and now crippled by the coronavirus pandemic and protests over racial inequality, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s cleverly constructed historical hip-hop musical comes at a much-needed time, to restore within us a sense of hope and optimism. Thomas Kail, who also directed the show on Broadway, incorporates cranes, close-ups (including a hilarious Jonathan Groff’s unintentional sing-spitting as King George – egads!) and Steadicams to give the two and a half hour extravaganza the enthusiasm of a Super Bowl halftime show – a vast improvement over the more stilted theatrical presentations commonly found on PBS.
Miranda’s recasting of America’s origin story, replacing the slave-owning, white supremacist founding fathers with people of color, while less historically accurate, is a more inclusive, inspiring version of patriotism, reminding us that America is, after all, a nation of immigrants. There is not a single weak link in the cast. Among the standouts: Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr, and Phillipa Soo and Jasmine Cephas-Jones as Hamilton’s wife and sister-in-law. The singing in Hamilton is phenomenal. Theater at its finest.
• Originally Disney planned to release Hamilton in theaters in October 2021, but moved it up a year and onto the Disney+ streaming service due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in time for America’s July 4th Independence Day celebrations.
• Hamilton won 11 Tony awards in 2016 (including Best Musical) out of a record-breaking 16 nominations, just one win shy of the record 12 wins by Mel Brooks’ The Producers in 2001.