Updated: Jan 12
Book, music and lyrics: Lin-Manual Miranda
I’m probably one of the last people in the theatre-going world to see ‘Hamilton’. The first time round I was thwarted by Covid restrictions and second time round one of my party was out-of-action with the dreaded bug.
Having finally got there, I couldn’t help wondering what those visionary gentlemen from American history would have thought of the 6 January riot on Capitol Hill and how that recent mob insurrection aligned with the philosophy of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’? ‘Not’, I am sure would be the answer.
I loved the portrayal of ‘Hamilton’s‘ Washington (Matu Ngaropo). This nation-making gent was characterised as a troubled older patriarch who realised nothing was as clear cut as the less experienced forefathers envisaged; namely Hamilton (Jason Arrow), Madison (Shaka Cook), Laurens (Marty Alix), Jefferson (Victory Ndukwe), and all. Washington’s portrayal was of a man who felt his responsibility acutely and his ‘One Last Time’ was a highpoint of the musical for me, for how many of today’s leaders realise that to say goodbye at the right time and allow the world to move on is as important as any of the other elements of far-sighted leadership?
Likewise, the mixed-race casting definitely gave the statement ‘all men are created equal’ true meaning and highlighted how very white were America’s founding father (as they were here in Australia). A reason to love the original Hamilton was because he actually did consider this, while the aristocratic Jefferson envisaged a future of freedom and laissez faire so long as the slaves of the South could deliver the agricultural needs of the country.
Did those forefathers get it right?
It would seem the polymath Hamilton certainly had a grasp of post-war economics and also saw a mercantile future as the way forward for his young nation. However, would America have been better off with a political structure more like Australia with regards to a parliamentary system rather than a presidential one? It is an interesting alternative universe to consider.
‘Hamilton’ was so high energy and inspiring, the cast so dynamic and the scores so catchy it was hard not to want to dig a little deeper into the era and compare it to present-day America.
Washington’s theme song 'History has its eyes on us' is a great sound-track to live by.
It will be interesting to see what theatre piece becomes the world’s next ‘must see’ production. 'The Book of Mormon' to 'Hamilton' was a massive leap so the possibilities are endless.