Not Throwing Away His Shot - A Look at Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton"

If you're a musical theatre fan, you probably know all about the latest sensation to hit Broadway. Hamilton, a non-stop thrill from start to finish by In the Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, from his humble beginnings to his rise in power and inevitable assassination (Spoilers? No. This happened over 200 years ago). 

Miranda, after reading Ron Chernow's biography of Hamilton, was inspired to create a musical about the first United States Secretary of the Treasury and how he rose from a nobody to becoming one of the most powerful men in the country. Miranda chose to cast an incredibly diverse group of people to play his main characters, meaning that Washington, Jefferson and Hamilton himself (played by Miranda) were all POC. Miranda explains it best himself: 

Our cast looks like America looks now, and that’s certainly intentional... It’s a way 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.

Many musical theatre fans all over the world were waiting with bated breath for Miranda's soundtrack Hamilton to appear online so we could all finally experience what those lucky enough to have seen it live had experienced. 

It most definitely did not disappoint.

Right off the bat, I will admit to being quite ignorant about American history. As a Canadian, I didn't learn about it in school, and what I do know has been gleaned from common knowledge and pop culture. Hamilton is the best kind of history lesson I could have ever hoped for. 

With Miranda's signature blend of hip-hop, R&B and Latin musical genres, he tells Hamilton's story with incredible wit, sincerity and clarity. For someone like me, who thought that Hamilton was maybe a President once?, I understood all the players from Burr to the Schuyler sisters to King George. 

Like In the Heights, the soundtrack is top-notch and filled with tongue-twisting intelligent raps that educate without dumbing things down. Though I can say nothing from an acting standpoint (until I see the musical in person, of course), hearing the way the actors sing their songs, sometimes with triumph, other times with sorrow, every emotion is tackled with aplomb and distinction.

The musical is currently sold out for the upcoming months on Broadway and I anxiously await the inevitable touring cast that makes its way up to Toronto. Until then, I'll have this album on repeat. And maybe take a crack at that old biography too.