Unless you have been living under a rock you have no doubt heard of the Broadway phenomenon that is Hamilton. Written by Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton debuted on Broadway in 2015 and went on to win best musical at the Tony Awards, Grammy Awards and even the Pulitzer Prize. Recently the touring production came to Salt Lake City, and I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity of seeing this much-talked about show. Fortunately, I can let you know that it absolutely lived up to the hype and is one of the stronger live musicals I’ve ever seen.
There are a lot of things that make Hamilton unique but the biggest standout is the blending of hip-hop and traditional Broadway musical stylings. Miranda had previously used this style in his Tony winning musical In the Heights to great effect but this feels even more unique given its Revolutionary Era setting. The history in Hamilton is played surprisingly straight and sincere, which makes the music more interesting and impactful. It feels like Miranda never settled for basic storytelling but pushed himself in every scene and song to do something different- but not in a showy ‘artsy’ way but in a way that makes the viewer think. Even the African-American casting is interesting and gives layers to the story it wouldn’t have with historically accurate casting. I love more traditional historical based shows like 1776 but they don’t hold a candle to the experience of seeing Hamilton.
My friend Phaedra has seen Hamilton 6 times, so she can dive into the different productions and stylings over on her blog. It might sound outrageous to see Hamilton 6 times, but I can understand why because it has so many different avenues to analyze it- historical, musical, social, political, etc. Not to mention looking at the nuances and changes different actors bring to roles on each viewing.
In my experience, hype can be the enemy of art, so I tried hard to moderate my expectations going into Hamilton. It didn’t need to be the greatest musical I’ve ever seen, and I don’t know if I can say that it is. Les Miserables will always hold that spot based partly on nostalgia but Hamilton proved to be a strong contender and live up to all the build-up. It is funny, sweet, and very inventive. They use just enough of the hip-hop combined with traditional show tunes to make it work and the performers are all having a blast (according to Phaedra this SLC cast is a strong one!).
Hamilton does have some strong language and adult situations so keep that in mind, but I would be fine taking mature children and teens to it. Like I said, there are so many avenues to discuss the play with them and get their insight into the history, music, artistry and everything else. Phaedra got to take her niece and nephew, and I’m honestly super jealous. I wish my nieces lived closer so I could do those kind of things with them. Regardless, it was a super fun experience, and one I highly recommend if you get the opportunity.
Overall Grade- A+