So here’s my current dilemma.
Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hip Hop musical about Alexander Hamilton) was so fucking good — yes, Dad, that f-bomb was extremely necessary — so utterly mindblowing that I feel really, really overmatched by the task of writing about it. Except. EXCEPT. I loved it so much that I feel compelled to talk about it. Like. I want to evangelize. Like. Hamilton may be my new religion? And maybe it should be yours too?
Okay. I’m hyperbolizing.
But really, only just a bit. I really just. By the time the first number was over, I knew something special was happening because my scalp was tingling. The last time that happened to me at a musical? Spring Awakening. And this is way better than Spring Awakening, which, no matter how much I loved it, sadly suffered from some moments of like, oh, old white men, that’s a very nice try but you only THINK the kids talk that way. Hamilton just really doesn’t have those moments.
Then, midway through the first act, as Leslie Odom Jr. was SLAYING a song called “Wait for It” I actually felt so overwhelmed that I got teary. Not because this was a sad or particularly emotional moment in the arc of the story (nope, those tearjerkers were all in the second act) but seriously just because like… I could not believe how much I was loving the show. How fucking GOOD it was.
Seriously. The people in the seats around me were basically physically incapable of sitting still, of being quiet. They were saying “oh shit” and “oh my god” and at one point I think I actually said — out loud — “I’m going to die.”
I left the theater and I wanted to sit down with Lin-Manuel Miranda and spend six hours talking about the history of Hip Hop and R&B. Then I wanted to watch him talk to Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell about musicals, and musical forms, and how you make music that’s completely credible to it’s form also fully functional in the context of a musical. Then I wanted to talk to Lin some more, about the whys and the hows. About the ways he was able to connect Hamilton’s story as an immigrant, and writer, and revolutionary, to the story of the hip hop movement itself, and the moment he realized this was the story he wanted to tell, and the moment he realized it was actually going to work. I wanted to hear it all.
But mostly. I just wanted to go back and see Hamilton again. Already. Every day, maybe. Like maybe I can just sleep under the seats in the Newman, or something? I don’t know.
I just think this is big. Like. I sat in the theater and thought… I’m witnessing something here. A movement of the form. Where we’re credibly using the idiom of hip hop and R&B to tell a story that is both specific and universal, historical and of this very second. Where someone proved — again, like Bloody Bloody did 5 years ago, and Spring Awakening and Hedwig before that — that musicals are alive and well, and that we really can stop trying to replicate some long dead ‘Golden Age’ where everything sounds like some attempt to put a synth to Rodgers and Hammerstein, or we regurgitate more Gershwin.
I can only hope for more of this. So much more. More of Hamilton and more of Lin-Manuel Miranda and more of people smart enough to find the right ways to be authentic to both the musical and the music, more producers brave enough to put their heft behind this kind of work.
Until then, just… come at me bro, I am so ready to talk about this all day erry day. 5eva. (No please, I have so much to say, let’s be friends and talk, okay? Okay. BRB I’m gonna go write like a hundred more things about this show now.)
PS. Some of Thomas Kail’s direction was so straight up amazing I stopped breathing (holy shit the staging of “Satisfied” as he replays the events of an evening and the stage picture when he freezes Hamilton in the eye of the hurricane in the second act). Leslie Odom Jr. will be nominated for a Tony in 2016 for his performance as Aaron Burr. In fact, if Tony nominations don’t rain down on this show like Hamiltons in a rap video set in a strip club, I am going to make good on my previous Alex-Timbers-inspired threats to burn the Tonys to the ground and dance in the incinerated rubble, flames licking at my feet.