What You Need to Know about ‘Hamilton’

Photo Credit: Hollywood Pantages

  1. “Hamilton” is about Alexander Hamilton.
  2. “Hamilton” is not about Alexander Hamilton.
  3. Alexander Hamilton was
    a. a founding father
    b. a federalist
    c. a leader in establishing the national bank system
  4. Hamilton and was born in the Caribbean, and he and his comrade/rival Aaron Burr were orphaned at a young age
  5. “Hamilton” is really about Aaron Burr

That’s the short of it. “Hamilton” is a masculine story of achievement and rivalry. However, what makes “Hamilton” so truly important and deeply American is not the unique retelling about our founding fathers, or the narrow scope on Hamilton’s life, or the competition between Hamilton and Burr. What makes “Hamilton” a monumental work is the juxtaposition between the white-washed history of men in charge and the diverse America of 2017. Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner, is played by a black man. So is Aaron Burr, arguably the main character of the drama. Many of the soldiers are played women, and many are women of color. Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer, here played by a black man, and as an audience we are struck by the regality of this character, emphasized by the over-confidence that comes with youth and power. The magnitude of the casting is this: when all of the important people in history are straight, white men, we are reinforcing the idea that the important people in the world are straight, white men. That is not true, and to make this story relevant and interesting and empowering for everyone, we need to see the faces of everyone.

If you have any way to see the show in Chicago, DO IT. The cast was incredible. My boyfriend and I are both musicians, and we were FLOORED by how perfectly this performance was executed. If you want insight to the plot of the musical, definitely watch the drunk history episode with Lin-Manuel Miranda (Questlove makes an appearance?!). We were so glad we did, it was a much-needed supplement to our limited knowledge about the Revolutionary War.

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