Okay, now I see it. There are recent musicals I’ve seen which clearly were not quite successful. They were speaking to something that I couldn’t quite discern, following in a path that I hadn’t taken the turning for. And now that I have seen Hamilton, I understand! This is what Cagney was trying to do, the superfast historical biography. Here is where Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 were going with the rap music and the multiethnic casting. I was looking at the descendants, and had not yet viewed the progenitor.
Yes, yes. All the hype and reviews are quite correct. This is the next step in the evolution of the Broadway musical; the Company or the Carousel of our generation. Every musical after this either has to speak to Hamilton or defy it. That’s what a watershed work will do for you. The hiphop music, the sharp wit of the fast lyrics, the intense theatricality of the production, the magnificent imposition of theme over what must be a plotless story line, even (my particular bugaboo) the steady evolution in the costuming as the characters pass through time) — all of it is spectacular.
There is so much going on in this musical that I need to see it again: the characters powerful sense of enacting history, of building a great thing for one’s children. The American promise of being able to invent and reinvent yourself. The deeply writerish knowledge that the story is controlled by the narrator, the person who tells the tale. The frissons when the Founding Fathers suddenly speak to us in 2018 (“Immigrants get the job done!”). This is a deep and major work, one of the achievements of the 21st century.
It took me so long to see it, because to get a ticket is -hard-. And expensive! I was entirely unable to get tickets to the Kennedy Center production. However, the producers of Hamilton know that, and it’s sufficiently humungous a hit that they can afford to make it accessible to people who can’t cough up $500 a ticket. Behold, the daily lottery! There is one for every show, and there’s even an app for your phone. I downloaded the app, and entered — and I won! Behold these tickets, and the stupendous price I paid for them. I immediately went out and bought a Lotto ticket, just in case my luck is really in.