Hamilton: From Broadway to the TV Screen

Image Courtesy of Hollywood Reporter

By Katie Van Lew

Hamilton, written and created by renowned playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, is dedicated to the Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. Since the premiere of Hamilton on Broadway in January 2015, the musical has been highly praised by many critics, and applauded by many public figures including former United States President Barack Obama. The show has accumulated a number of highly-coveted awards, including eleven Tony awards and the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Because of Hamilton’s eminent reputation, thousands of people have flocked to theaters across the country to witness the spectacle. The Hamilton team has put on three United States tours, with the hope of bringing the show to countries worldwide.

On February 3, 2020, Miranda, announced via twitter that his musical Hamilton would be released to theaters everywhere on October 15, 2021. Due to the hardships and turmoil that have afflicted families globally, Bob Iger, the executive chairman of Disney, announced that the video streaming platform Disney+ would be releasing the film adaptation of Hamilton 15 months earlier than expected.

“In this very difficult time, this story of leadership, tenacity, hope, love & the power of people to unite against adversity is both relevant and inspiring,” Iger announced via Twitter.

For many people, the wish to see a live performance of Hamilton had merely been an unfulfilled dream due to the costly expenses of tickets. The film adaptation, which costs viewers a fraction of what a ticket would be, is a spectacular watch that brings the show to the living room. The production is not necessarily a film, but more-so a filmed performance of the play. 

Miranda resurrects Alexander Hamilton in a stunning performance reminiscent of Hamilton’s struggles to challenge the tyranny of men during the time of the American Revolution. Miranda cultivates an arrogant yet equally ambitious Hamilton who strives to take risks in order to ensure a better America. Alongside Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr. stuns in his performance of Aaron Burr. Initially comrades, the two men differ in their political perceptions and thus become each other’s enemies. The increasing tension between the two political leaders fuels the intensity of the play, reflecting the conflicting ideals of America.  

Miranda revives history with catchy tunes and lyrics that capture every emotion evoked in every scene, heartbreak and humor alike. From beginning to end, Miranda’s lyrics are stupefyingly brilliant, as he blends hip-hop into the earliest days of American history. The music defies traditional theater music, intertwining musical genres like in Phillipa Soo’s sweet ballads as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, along with Odom Jr. and Daveed Diggs’ spine-tingling rap verses as Burr and Marquis de Lafayette. The diversity of musical range resonates equally to the choreography, as the dances are a mix of ballet and hip-hop. The dances are elegant yet interspersed with more modern dance forms. 

Although the overall experience of the theatrical performance is vastly different from the film adaptation, cinematographer Declan Quinn ensured that not a moment was spared with the use of nine cameras. In a live audience, people have the privilege of scanning the stage and absorbing the entirety of the production, whereas the multitude of cameras used for the film serves the audience with close-ups and different perspectives. In a theater, people are dispersed throughout, with many audience members being seated further away from the stage. The numerous cameras set up were able to capture angles that audience members would not be able to see from their seats. The constant movement of cameras provides a more personal touch, as they allow the audience from home to sympathize with the many scandals and tragedies the characters endured. Although the cameras fail to capture the entire stage, they vividly show the most important and intimate moments. 

The diverse ensemble is admirable while simultaneously adding a contemporary twist to history. Miranda was adamant about preserving the history of America, and by constructing a diverse cast, he is able to do just that. The film adaptation of Hamilton is a satisfying escape from the current pandemic that America is faced with. Although the film is unlike the experience of sitting in a Broadway theater, the film elicits the same bursts of laughter and tears that would echo across a theater. The outstanding cast delivers an unforgettable performance of history that does not change history, but rather reinvents it to match modern America. Hamilton is a melting pot of artistry that will go down in theatrical history forevermore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *