Op-Ed: Hamilton Hits Home Because it is Our Own Story 

Via Facebook

(Mirror) I can’t think of a better show that mirrors America more than ‘Hamilton.’ You see, Hamilton is a show about an immigrant.

Yes, one of our Founding Fathers, the primary author of The Federalist Papers, a constitutional doctrine for the ages, and the nation’s First Secretary of the Treasury, would be deported if he tried to cross the border today.

History is not sure whether Alexander Hamilton was born in 1755 or 1757, but we know it was on the Caribbean island of Nevis, and that he was orphaned shortly thereafter. But nothing held him back. He got his shot.

By the time Alexander Hamilton arrived in Manhattan in 1773, he was a young man with a bold purpose. The show bearing his name captures a glimpse of the earliest days of America while it magically and marvelously tells his story. 

If you go though, hold on to your seat. Don’t be surprised. This is not your mother’s musical. This is no “Hello, Dolly.” Dont expect dancing waiters or Auntie Mame.

This is a fast moving and stunning production which from the very first number integrates hip hop, R & B, pop, soul, and show tunes into its script. 

It uses expressive, color-conscious casting of non-white actors to play the protagonists, our Founding Fathers, along with related historical figures. It is off the charts. 

You just don’t expect to see Thomas Jefferson as a 6’6” black man, but damn, it works, and here is why. America is a melting pot of diversity. We ARE a nation of immigrants. 

The show is riveting because of its intense and driving score which captures the spirit of rebellion in all of us. It is a story of young lives carving out their own tomorrows, boundaries tossed aside, lives motivated, dreams energized. 

Very subtly, this is a show that speaks and raps out truth to power, mocks monarchy, promotes democracy, speaks out for equality and against slavery, and fights for justice.

Hamilton’s multi-racial cast represents theater at its best. It exemplifies the truth that there is no limit to what any of us can achieve, what roles we can play given the opportunity to do so. Hamilton pushes the envelope at every corner. It’s a ground-breaking, breath-taking musical; a cultural phenomenon.

History, not Hollywood, wrote the script for the Hamilton book. It is a telling glimpse of America’s emergence as a nation.  Ron Chernow did a great job scripting it.

Alexander Hamilton was a rebellious young man when he arrived in New York in 1773. He became a Kings College student who actively spoke out against the king (George) that young America rebelled against. Alexander Hamilton became a revolutionary. King George went mad.

By the age of 24, he would rise to stand by the side of General George Washington and command armies of his own. He fought the British Empire. He did not claim a draft deferment for bone spurs.

After the war, Alexander Hamilton took part in the Constitutional Convention and the discussions and debates leading to our constitution. He was a smart man, but not known to claim to all that he “had a great brain.”

A prolific writer, Hamilton would eventually author most of the writings in the Federalist Papers. He used no ghost writers.

A dedicated constitutionalist, he advocated for a strong central government. He published thoughtful doctrines, not daily tweets. 

 Alexander Hamilton would become the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, laying out the case for a national banking system under a unified system of currency. He did not use the system as a tool to declare bankruptcy five times.

 Alexander Hamilton would also become a renowned statesman, and when one of the first votes for the presidency of the United States resulted in a tie in the electoral college in 1800, historians tell us he crossed party lines to support Thomas Jefferson, because he was a candidate of principle not expedience; honor, not politics.

Alexander Hamilton was as human as all of us. His own political career came to a crashing end when he was caught in a sex scandal, revealed to have engaged in an all too embarrassing and adulterous affair. He admitted to paying blackmail to keep the story quiet, but it became public anyway. Shakespeare has cast many in his shoes.

How did Hamilton get through it? Oh, he just became a lawyer, helped start the Coast Guard and the New York Post. He was a journalist, too. 

Unfortunately, his story took an irreversible course in July of 1804, by a New Jersey lake. Alexander Hamilton would die in a duel with the man he blocked from becoming president, Aaron Burr, who just happened to be at the time the sitting vice president of the United States.  

Burr lived only to be forever remembered as a villain - the man who killed Hamilton.  The location of this deadly duel was less than a mile away from where Hamilton’s eldest son, Phillip, had been killed in a similar duel three years before, at the age of only 19. 

Hamilton left behind 7 other children. The story was tragic; Shakespearean.  All of this happened 214 years ago. Just the stuff a musical is made of, right? Lin-Manuel Miranda apparently thought so.  

Miranda saw mystery and magic in Alexander Hamilton’s two century old story. His ingenuity and spark converted it into the hottest and hippest Broadway production in decades. It has crossed generational lines and ethnic boundaries. Like the stage it is set upon, the show spins us round and round.

Excitement and anticipation blanket every city on the national tour. The Broadway productions still have lines. Tickets are impossible to come by. Touring shows have public lotteries to get them. From students to seniors, everybody wants in.

Since its debut in 2015, Hamilton followed up the Tony Awards wins with a series of Drama Desk Awards and Grammy Awards. Damn, those immigrants are good. 

Hamilton has become an American history lesson, wrought with high energy, human drama, and heartfelt pain. It touches all of us because it is about all of us.

 Theater is all about capturing dreams and destinations, aspirations and ideas. Hamilton does. This is the reason this production has stolen the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere, young and old, theatergoers or not. Hamilton’s story is our story. The revolution, the revolt, and the rebellion continue still today. 

Each day our own story unfolds. We don’t always know where the road is going to take us or what obstacles may get in our way. We find many of our own dreams defeated, some deferred, and others denied. No matter. We rise. We try again. We are, after all, the product of a revolution. That is what this show is about. 

 In our own lives, we all come of age hoping to make our mark. 

As the musical score Hamilton sings out, in one of its most popular songs, we all want “to be in the room where things happen.” 

Like Hamilton, we pray for the day when we “get our shot.”

None of us ever know how long we have, or how many chances we will get. We may not make it to the ten-dollar bill, but Alexander Hamilton’s story is that of a decent citizen who did his duty boldly and honorably. 

The message to all of us is that we too, can be Alexander Hamilton. His journey may have ended. This show reminds us that ours goes on. 

“Give me a place to stand,” wrote Archimedes, “and I will move the world.” As long as you are still here, you can take your shot. That is the message of Hamilton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Like us on Facebook

  • Latest Comments

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS