I had the privilege of going down to San Francisco recently to see the traveling cast of Tony award winning Hamilton. Now if you’re unfamiliar at all with Hamilton, it is a musical based on the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton and what history books generally gloss over.
Lyrical genius Lin Manuel Miranda takes you into each character of Alexander’s narrative with rich songs full of intrigue at a rapid pace that has you on the edge of your seat. The cast does not dare to take a second too long rest between songs, and keeps his world spinning time and time again. Speaking of spinning, the show utilizes a rotating inner stage in which they even reverse for certain songs. It was truly a masterpiece.
But what truly is the forefront of Hamilton is its use of diversity in theatre on such a grand scale. Something that I’ve always admired about TV and television production is the notion of blind casting which was used for the show Grey’s Anatomy specifically, but it meant that actors were not cast for characters with skin color in mind. That was what Lin tried to with Hamilton, and succeeded.
See where as Lin was not only the writer of this show but he played Hamilton in the original New York Broadway run of the show, and Lin himself is of Puerto-Rican descent. Subsequently he makes sure that for each of his shows that a majority of the leads are people of color. This was true of the production I saw in San Francisco, and I honestly would never think to change it.
My Hamilton was played by Michael Luwoye, a young black man. He did phenomenal as far as I am concerned. Something else that really struck me was the character of Angelica Schuyler played by Emmy Raver-Lampman. She had this beautiful hairstyle including a half shaved head, which I think contrasted against the period clothing she wore was very eye catching.
While Hamilton is the story of a white founding father, and very much a story that is something aligned in the ‘american dream’ it is important for us to make the american dream accessible for everyone inside our country so that includes through the media allowing people of other cultures and races to feel at home. Everyone can be Hamilton because of his unnerving want and will to better his world. And if we can step forward and accept others opportunity is just as great as ours, I think the world could be such a greater place.
For more Hamilton content you can buy the soundtrack and mixtape (which is a series of popular musicians covering some of the songs) as well as the novel it was based on, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and watch the PBS documentary on how the show came to be. It is worth the investment to see the show.