Alexander Hamilton is a hard working revolutionary who will become George Washington’s right hand man and a founding father of America. He will also make powerful enemies on his way.
The first thing I should probably address is that this is not a film. It is a recording of the theatre stage show. Although it is not a static camera from the wings but a much more roving one that gives us close ups of actors and aerial shots as well. It was originally planned to be released theatrically before the global pandemic resulted in Disney deciding to place it on their streaming service. The main reason that I am covering this film/performance is because it is absolutely fantastic and a true must watch.
Lin-Manuel Miranda who created the show famously came up with the idea because of a holiday read. He took Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Hamilton on holiday with him and decided that it was packed with so much incident he could create a musical from it. Hamilton is an orphan who survived a hurricane, became a revolutionary, married rich, was involved in duels, was the right hand man of George Washington, involved in political scandal and died young. The fact that so much complicated plot is packed into the 160 minute running time is a testament to his grasp of the material.
So what makes it so good? Simply put, the songs and the acting. It is the sort of show that you watch and with each new song think “this is the best one”. And the actors involved are so good that they make the creator look the weakest in such a strong line up. Leslie Odom Jr. plays Aaron Burr, a friend who becomes an enemy whose song “Wait for It” is a stand out, Chris Jackson is a powerful George Washington, Daveed Diggs plays the Marquis de Lafayette in Act One and Thomas Jefferson in Act Two and dazzles as both, Renee Elise Goldsbury is Angelica Schuyler and belts out the fabulous “Satisfied” and my favourite song of the show “It’s Quiet Uptown”, Jonathan Groff is the sardonic King George and Phillips Soo is Elizabeth Schuyler, Hamilton’s wife. It is nice to see little moments from the actors that you would miss on stage as it gets in so close as well, Groff’s spit when he says one line is particularly noticeable.
A musical revelation.