The Hamilton Phenomenon

I’ve always been a fan of movie musicals, and I’d seen musicals like Wicked, Matilda, and The Sound of Music before, when I travelled interstate to Melbourne, but Hamilton was my gateway into the world of Broadway. I remember my best friend, who had always been a fan of musical theatre, raving about this new musical extravaganza that rapped about America’s history. I wasn’t really interested in hip-hop, but soon her persistence wore me down, and I listened to the soundtrack. My God, was it a masterpiece. Hamilton chronicles the extraordinary story of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of America, and was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda (my role-model and an indisputable genius), who wrote the lyrics, composed the music, and starred in the titular role. The musical is a lyrical masterpiece, exploring historical events, social classes, politics, relationships, and the importance of leaving behind a legacy, and it paints a compelling story that has enchanted audiences worldwide.

There’s this video of Lin, from 2009, when he was invited to the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and Spoken Word to perform in front of the Obamas and other distinguished guests. He announces that he will be performing a track off an album he’s working on, regarding the story of someone he believes embodies hip-hop: treasury-secretary Alexander Hamilton. The audience, as would most, laughed, but when he starts to sing, with such passion and eloquence, it’s clear that everyone is intrigued, if not impressed. In my eyes, it’s a truly spectacular performance, and a testament to Lin Manuel’s character. Despite the sniggers and belittling from the audience and, I presume, from many who would’ve turned their head at his concept, he believed in himself and invested in his idea.

As of last week, it was 10 years ago that Lin-Manuel performed this song about the treasury-secretary Alexander Hamilton, and the rest, as they say, is history. Cut to today and Hamilton has won 11 Tony Awards, a Grammy, and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama; since 2015, it has been running on Broadway to sold-out theatres, with desperate fans hitting up online auctions and spending upwards of $1,000 USD to witness the show. It’s opened in Chicago and the West End in London, and as was recently announced, will be travelling to Sydney in 2021. It has become a cultural phenomenon.

To look at where Hamilton is, where Miranda himself is, and to look at where they started, is extraordinary. The entire show is a conglomeration of breathtakingly brilliant music, stellar stages, and incredible choreography, and to think that it all spawned from an idea that one man had, an idea that he stood by and developed, no one could have predicted the success of Hamilton, and yet, Miranda believed in it; to put it lightly, it’s inspiring and motivating as hell. An exemplar of what it means to have faith, and to not ‘throw away your shot’.








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