Anyone who dabbles in anything theatre-related must be well-attune to Hamilton. It’s one of the most sought-after and revered Broadway shows—and the demand for its tickets is a testament to this. A theatre seat to a Hamilton show could easily force you to part with $1,000+, depending on where you source your tickets—which is why it’s advisable to keep tabs on the Hamilton musical tickets guide.
Hamilton has been a huge success On Broadway, Off-Broadway, on National tours, and even on Disney+ (where it premiered on July 3, 2020). Its bejeweled trophy cabinet sports a Grammy, a Pulitzer, 11 Tony wins, a MacArthur ‘genius grant’ for the creator, a Kennedy Center Honor, and more late-night talk shows than you can care to count.
With the brilliance of the musical now accessible to more people than ever before, it’s the opportune moment to revisit its story. What’s the real story behind the smash-hit Broadway musical? Is it historically accurate? And what’s up with the divisive opinions it attracts?
Read on for answers to these questions, and more.
First Things First; The Life of Alexander Hamilton
Understanding what the Hamilton Musical is about, starts with having a peek at the life of the man behind the now-iconic show name.
The Hamilton musical draws inspiration from the 2004 biography of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (aka., the face on a U.S. $10 bill) as told by historian Ron Chernow.
Alexander Hamilton’s story is remarkable for several reasons. It’s a life story of rags to riches. From a poor immigrant family to a political behemoth. A boy from the Caribbean island of Nevis; turned soldier; turned stateman; turned scholar with an imprint on the U.S. Legal system, and finally going down history as an understated legend.
The musical opening number of Hamilton offers an accurate history lesson of the character. “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman / dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean / by providence impoverished in squalor / grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”
As a driven teenager with an inherent passion for politics, Hamilton moved to New York in search of an education and greener pastures—the American dream, if you may. Later on, when the American Civil War was in its early stages, Hamilton joined and gradually rose up to the rank of lieutenant colonel—eventually helping end the war.
He then pursued his ambition for a political career—which culminated in his appointment as first US Secretary of the Treasury under Washington’s administration. In a tragic turn of events, Alexander Hamilton sustained a fatal gunshot wound following a gunfight with Aaron Burr.
The Making of the Hamilton Musical
Now, is the Hamilton musical an accurate historical re-telling of Alexander Hamilton’s life? Yes—but not entirely.
Talking to The Atlantic back when Hamilton premiered, Lin-Manuel Miranda was quoted saying, “I felt an enormous responsibility to be as historically accurate as possible, while still telling the most dramatic story possible…When I did part from the historical record or take dramatic license, I made sure I was able to defend it to Ron, because I knew that I was going to have to defend it in the real world. None of those choices are made lightly.”
Since its premiere in 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton musical has catapulted into arguably the greatest Broadway show to date. To say the musical is a sensation would be an understatement.
In an impressive feat that was well-worth a MacArthur genius grant, the Hamilton musical is the brainchild of one man. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a book about the musical, composed the music and lyrics, and even stared in the lead role.
When Lin-Manuel Miranda came across the story of Alexander Hamilton in the biography by Ron Chernow, he likely felt he found a kindred spirit. Drawing parallels to his own past as the son of a Puerto Rican and a New Yorker at heart, Miranda expertly explored modern America in the context of historical America—while playing the title role.
The show’s style and music are deliberately anachronistic to create a complex, layered historical concert where the present mingles with the history liberally. While inventive, this approach has also been the subject of opposing opinions on the political message Hamilton puts across.
The Multifaceted Narrative of Hamilton
Hamilton has often been the subject of divisive public debate. One camp strongly believes that it’s a visionary and transformative theatrical experience that champions immigrant inclusiveness.
According to Miranda, Hamilton was written with the intention of “pulling you into the story and allowing you to leave whatever cultural baggage you have about the founding fathers at the door. We’re telling the story of old, dead white men but we’re using actors of color, and that makes the story more immediate and more accessible to a contemporary audience.”
Others point out that the musical is simply a revisionist attempt to push forth the undue celebration of the Founding Fathers. Some historians suggest that Hamilton might have been a slave owner and Miranda’s portrayal of the historical figure as pro-immigration and progressive is inaccurate.
It’s this duality that keeps inviting audiences to rethink the connection between historical and modern political problems—spawning critiques and admirers alike in the process.
Takeaway – Still the Greatest Show
Regardless of whether you think Hamilton is historically valid or not, there’s no denying that it’s a theatrical masterclass. The inventive story-telling is designed in such a way that you actually learn some history—while at the same time stirring a reminiscence of current times. And let’s not get into its enchanting music and great acting.
Simply put, Hamilton is a musical that every theatergoer must experience.