Hamilton: the American phenomenon

Courtesy of Jeffrey Seller and the Fabulous Fox

Six long months after purchasing my tickets, I waited in a crowd of around 300 people outside of the Fox. They, like my family, had heard all the raving about this new musical and decided that the night was worth a few hundred, or in some cases, thousands of dollars. In fact, most everyone I know has heard of it, even people not so inclined to musicals or theatre. In the age of digital media, it is hard to ignore the hype and recognition surrounding what once was just a name lost to history, Hamilton.

The plot of Hamilton: an American Musical follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from Nevis who has big hopes to make a name for himself. The show weaves together the stories of iconic founding fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as lesser known people like A. Hamilton’s wife, Eliza Hamilton, and his son, Philip Hamilton. The show’s main lead is obviously A. Hamilton, but we get the story from many different perspectives. The second act is fast-paced and emotionally intense, and it includes a lot of my favorite moments from the show. The carefully sculpted storyline makes big emotional jumps, but in a way that doesn’t seem too jarring or unbelievable.

Having the plot of someone’s whole life encompassed into 47 songs is an intense undertaking. The visual storytelling was not only extremely intricate but rather had a modern flair. The center portion of the stage rotated, with an inner circle that rotated as well and was very creatively used to display the passage of time. At one point, the outer circle rotated to show a road that one character was walking down, and the movement made the distance seem real. There was also a very clever set design, and the lighting was incredible in that it made the settings more real. They used simple set pieces over and over to create different scenes. The most commonly used item was brown wooden chairs, and of course the iconic balconies around the stage. 

However, the most amazing part of the entire show was by far the cast. On the night of my attendance, several understudies were performing, which is standard for a Tuesday or Thursday night. I’ve listened to the soundtrack on repeat since it first came out, and so to be frank, I wasn’t expecting too much compared to the original cast—I was blown away.Not only were they unbelievably talented vocally, they managed to deliver the fast-paced lines with incredible amounts of emotion and precision. The actors managed to make the whole audience laugh, cry and sing along with the show, which is a fair sign that they did what they are paid to do.

The only downfall of such an amazing show was the fact that seats were so expensive. The price for the cheapest tickets I could find on a Tuesday night (a typically slower night in theatre) were $125 a piece. The best seats are priced around $625 a piece. If you bought tickets during the online pre-sale, you could only get two tickets together at a time. Obviously, the reasoning behind this is that they are in such high demand, which is understandable for such an incredible show, but a negative nonetheless. Also, I was seated on the balcony, and it was a little difficult to see at times, especially facial expressions. A smart fix to this was many people brought binoculars to view the show, which I recommend if that is something important to you.  

Overall, I highly recommend the show. The music was engaging and entertaining, the plot was incredibly well woven, the characters were well developed, and the visual storytelling was outstanding. This show is worth all the recognition it has been receiving, and the experience was unforgettable.

The Pathfinder gives “Hamilton: the American Musical” a 9.7/10.