If you haven’t seen “Hamilton” yet, you will have the chance on July 3 on Disney plus.
I was honored to have seen it at the Richard Rogers Theatre on Broadway with the original cast, and it changed my perspective on both Broadway musicals as a genre and, more importantly, on the true meaning of the American Revolution.
“Hamilton,” written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the book “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, features a cast of Black, Brown, White, and Asian men and women and tells the story of Alexander Hamilton’s role in the Revolutionary war and his contribution to laying the foundation of our American democracy.
I must admit, embarassingly, that I wondered whether I would be able to immerse myself in the story given that the music was hip-hop and rap based, not my musical wheelhouse, and that the iconic historical figures were played by a culturally diverse cast. I was wrong. So wrong. Within minutes of the play starting, I was sucked in. The music was groundbreaking, fresh, and beautiful. Leslie Odom, Jr. WAS Aaron Burr. Lin-Manuel Miranda WAS Hamilton, Christopher Jackson WAS George Washington. You get my point. The brilliance of the score and the importance of the story rose above any considerations of the ethnicity of the cast.
And that is important. On July 4th, 1776, a group of immigrants and descendants of immigrants declared that they would no longer live under tyranny. They chose to fight for liberty, for freedom. Hamilton was born in the West Indies. Both Washington’s and Jefferson’s families immigrated from England. Hercules Mulligan (one of the greatest names ever) was from Ireland. And yet together, they took the first steps to defeat the world’s greatest power.
The fight for freedom and liberty, for respect and honor, continue to this day. As George Washington says in “Hamilton,” “History has its eyes on you.” Every generation is judged by the next on what they do to continue the fight that began in 1776. The fight against slavery, for women’s suffrage, for equal pay, for the right to love, for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“Hamilton” will remind you of why America exists. It will open your eyes to the idea that everyone’s story is America’s story, regardless of race, creed, color, or gender.