Hamilton – Review

These days, being patriotic is a challenge. You can’t say, “I love America” without someone spitting, “Yeah?! Do you have a flag?!” like some Bizarro World red-hat-wearing Eddie Izzard. For too many, love of our country has warped into worship with the flag as a religious icon. A cross-like symbol of Mammon and his only begotten son, America. If that is patriotism, normal folk want nothing to do with it.

And then Hamilton comes along to remind us of the America in our hearts. Those ideals espoused by Superman and Captain America instead of our politicians.

By now, everyone has at least heard of Hamilton, the Broadway play that required your left kidney to get a ticket. But now, the House of Mouse (obviously more interested in souls than kidneys) has decreed that everyone should buy a D+ subscription and see the original performance of the greatest musical ever written (sorry Cats).

Though focused on Alexander Hamilton, the story takes us through the birth of our nation. Despite what you learned in high school history, the U.S.A. did not begin the day after the Battle of Yorktown. Oh no, there were still a lot of politics and dealings to be done. In Hamilton, watching that sausage get made is far more enjoyable when performed with a hip-hop soundtrack.

The cast is perfect. Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr acts as our narrator. Daveed Diggs doubles up as Lafayette and Jefferson and steals every scene. Jonathan Groff (Kristoff from the Frozens) plays the best toddler royalty since Prince John in the animated Robin Hood.

Like most historical dramas, Hamilton takes some liberties with history. Some major and some minor, but it’s a better story because of its poetic license. Fantasy and superhero movies succeed because we connect more easily with the deeper themes underlying the plot. The Lord of the Rings is a powerful story of hope and perseverance above the dwarves and elves in it. Hamilton takes this similar approach though more rooted in history. That said, Gollum as King George could have worked.

On its face, America was founded with freedoms and rights for white men at the exclusion of others. But there’s a deeper promise that these American ideals are for everyone. Hamilton portrays the birth of our nation with those deeper values at the surface. Freedom, Liberty, and Justice are unique in the world and available to all Americans. Historically, it’s taken centuries for that to be true for many and for others it’s still not. But there still exists a promise and hope that it can be true for all. It’s just gonna take some work.

As a nation, we have retreated to our corners blaming the other side for the destruction between us. Hamilton shines as a message of hope. A reminder that we’re all in the same ring and share a belief that Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness can be a reality for all.

Grade: A+

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