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Sort of “Satisfied”: A Review of Hamilton’s America

Molly Heyner, Staff

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The hit broadway musical, Hamilton: An American Musical, is quite possibly one of the best broadway shows of all time. Recently, a documentary entitled Hamilton’s America aired on PBS showing the creative process of the writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and giving some history at the same time. As an avid fan of Hamilton myself, I knew that I had to watch it.

This huge hit was created by writer and original broadway cast member, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and tells the story of one of America’s most influential founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. Miranda plays Hamilton and gets to tell the magnificent story of his life. From orphan immigrant to our nation’s first Secretary of Treasury, Hamilton  boasted many political accomplishments in his lifetime. In a dramatic twist, he was also part of the country’s first sex scandal where he cheated on his wife, ultimately paying money to cover it up. The timeline of the play ranges from the revolutionary war where Hamilton was George Washington’s “right hand man”, to the time of his death, when he was shot by long-time frenemy Aaron Burr. The show has two acts and tickets are highly sought after and very expensive. In the documentary, it says that it took Miranda seven years to write the complete show beginning to end, and the first two years were spent entirely on only two songs . Knowing this show was going to be a huge success, the producers of Hamilton’s America began filming Miranda in 2014, months before opening night off-broadway.

Those featured in the documentary include President Barack Obama, Former President George W. Bush, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and even Jimmy Fallon. These interviewees answered questions about the history of Hamilton and his contributions to the country in its early stages.  Original broadway cast members also make appearances, going to historical places where their character lived or had some importance to them. We see Eliza Hamilton and her two sisters Angelica and Peggy (played by Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Jasmine Cephas-Jones) visit the place where Eliza first met Hamilton, whom she later married. Revolutionaries Marquis de Lafayette, Hercules Mulligan, and John Laurens (played by Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, and Anthony Ramos) even stand on the very ground where their characters served their country in war.

While I love all things “musical theater Hamilton” and I really enjoyed this documentary, I wish that it would have had a little more to do with the show itself than the history behind it. I was expecting to see backstage clips and the creative side of making the show, but instead I learned a lot about Alexander Hamilton. While there were some professionally filmed clips of the show, I was left grasping for more when they reverted back to the historical significance. Other than this, I really enjoyed Hamilton’s America and am very excited for whatever else Miranda has in store for his die-hard Hamil Fans. I would give this documentary ⅗ green waves!

3-out-of-5

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