Recently, in a conversation with a colleague, the musical and recent Broadway sensation, “Hamilton” was brought to my attention. To be honest, once he explained it was about American founding father, Alexander Hamilton and the American Revolution my interest waned significantly. Don’t get me wrong, I do LOVE a good musical. Seeing a show on Broadway has always been on my bucket list, and I enjoy what I can in the way of musical tours through Winnipeg or those to the big screen. But, if there is anything that interests me less than American politics, it is American history. It’s typically not my thing, so Hamilton was not on my radar.
However, as I looked for a Saturday afternoon “Cleaning the House” sort of playlist on Spotify this weekend, wouldn’t you know that indeed the “Hamilton” original cast recording had somehow made its way to my recommended section. I decided to give it a chance.
As I let it play out, I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised.
As the musical score played on, I was sold. Clever, creative, contemporary, inventive, moving, and unique…Hamilton is in every sense, truly a work of art. It tells the lesser known story of Alexander Hamilton, from his humble beginnings, to his rise in the ranks to be George Washington’s right hand man, his role in writing the Federalist Papers and the shaping of America, his scandalous personal life and the tragedies he encounters along the way.
How Hamilton’s creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, manages to take this historic storyline of the life of Alexander Hamilton and so passionately bring it to life using hip-hop and a modernized perspective, is beyond extraordinary. The soundtrack is truly remarkable including contemporary hip- pop, rap and R & B influenced songs you will choose to listen to over and over again. The storyline is informative, engaging, fast-paced and captivating.
In my mind, this musical is truly one of a kind, and it seems well deserved of every bit of critical acclaim, the countless awards and the record breaking box office sales it has received. It is lively, energetic and laugh out loud funny. It is a history lesson like you’ve never had before. It is moving, gut wrenching and at times brought me to tears. If the music in itself is this powerful, I can only imagine the emotion and reaction that must be evoked by experiencing this story in theatre. Add that to the bucket list….
For me, the most interesting part of this story lies with the playwright. Lin Manuel Miranda, an American actor, writer, rapper, and composer with Puerto Rican roots is an intriguing individual and speaks articulately about his inspiration for writing the musical. When asked about the innovative, contemporary spin he has put on these 18th century beginnings he discusses the creative license of artists and says “I think that’s what we do as artists. It’s coming up with, what’s the thing that only I can contribute? It’s saying, hello world, here’s this idea that never existed. It’s in my brain, and unless I express it, it’s only going to stay in my brain. It’s more about personal expression than imposing your will on the world. It’s more about, you know, if I don’t get this idea out of my head and onto paper, it dies with me. You think to yourself, what’s the thing that’s not in the world that should be in the world?” Hear more of Miranda’s reflections and insight on the writing of Hamilton in the video below.
Lin Manuel Miranda’s words resonate with me. We are all creators. Each and every one of us has novel, ingenuitive, worthy ideas that deserve to see the light of day. Each and every one of us is a creator in our own right, based on our own strengths, passions and interests.
As parents it is our job to support and help develop this creativity in our children. As educators part of our role is to encourage creativity in our learners and help them to make connections, take risks and go in new directions. Somewhere along the way Lin Manuel Miranda found the inspiration, the insight, and the ideas to create Hamilton and put this unique, monumental and hugely enjoyable masterpiece out there into the world and for that the world is a better place. Check it out!
(**Note: I found this link to Hamilton’s script/lyrics helpful when listening through for the first time.)