Orange County School of the Arts

Revolutionary musical “Hamilton” sweeps Broadway

When you think of the Founding Fathers—Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, John Jay and Samuel Adams—you probably don’t think of rap, Destiny’s Child, the Spice Girls, or hip hop.

Well, think again. “Hamilton” is a musical that brings together the spirit of the revolution with the spirit of modern music. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer, director, and main character replies that “we take it as a given that hip-hop is the music of the revolution.”

The main character in this revolutionary show is the Secretary of Treasury, Aide to General Washington, Founding Father, Federalist, and writer Alexander Hamilton himself. Miranda, who embodies the Secretary of Treasury, notes that “this is a guy, who on the strength of his writing, pulled our country, and caught beef with every other founding father!”

And though Alexander Hamilton may have lived hundreds of years before Drake came out with “Started From the Bottom,” Hamilton’s life story is certainly similar to the song. Hamilton started from the bottom—an illegitimate birth in a slow Caribbean island—but now he’s here, getting an education and impressing people like George Washington while in New York. Started from the bottom—a poor family who died off—and now the whole team’s here. Jefferson, Washington, Adams, and unfortunately, Burr. Vice President Aaron Burr killed Hamilton (at around 49 years old) in a fatal duel both fought to protect their reputations.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, already a name on Broadway for Tony-winning “In the Heights,” spent six years working on Hamilton. While reading Ron Chernow’s award-winning biography of the man, Miranda thought this dramatic story would be great musical. There are ambitious, smart, revolutionary, and flawed characters. And so “Hamilton” was born. Miranda performed an early version of the first song at the White House Poetry Jam. 

And the show has received nothing less than phenomenal reviews. Ben Brantley, writing for New York Times, started his review with “Yes, it really is that good.” Brantley continues to rave about “Hamilton,” stipulating that it’s worth mortgaging your house and leasing your children to see. The show is revolutionary in other ways, too. The cast–like America–is diverse, ignoring too-typical casting norms.

If you’re as eagerfor Hamilton as I am, this YouTube channel has songs from the show. NPR has the full soundtrack on Spotify. Or, you could just check out your AP US History Textbook.