When Hamilton opened Off-Broadway in February, I called it groundbreaking and breathtaking – and I was trying not to gush. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical about the life and times of the Founding Father whose face is on the ten dollar bill has drawn exuberant bipartisan praise – from both Obama and Cheney, both Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Now that it has opened on Broadway, Hamilton has the potential to do something revolutionary – to help dissolve Broadway’s dependence on British imports, and throw off the tyranny of Hollywood adaptations.
There seems to be just one major danger ahead – that Hamilton’s early adopters have created such high expectations for this original musical that it will wind up disappointing theatergoers who are used to more conventional Broadway fare.
On the other hand, at a certain point in the life of a hit Broadway show, any individual opinion no longer matters; it’s a hit because it’s a hit, and people go because it’s a hit; those who don’t like it are likely to blame themselves.
Given its $30 million in advance ticket sales, is it possible that Hamilton has already reached that point?
From Orphan Immigrant to Architect of The American Experiment
How does a bastard, orphan son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot
In the Caribbean, by Providence, impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
Those are the first words in the musical, and they are delivered as a rap by…Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.), Hamilton’s killer. John Laurens (Anthony Ramos), a friend of Alexander Hamilton’s who died during the American Revolution, answers:
The ten-dollar Founding Father without a father
Got a lot farther
By working a lot harder
By being a lot smarter
By being a self-starter…