Thursday, August 27, 2020

Finding Hamilton

I cried for a movie hero. Not like when I was a teenager bawling during a chick-flick. I cried for Alexander Hamilton.

Who is Alexander Hamilton, you might ask?

The brief answer: he is America's forgotten Founding Father and lead character in Lin-Manuel Miranda's blockbuster musical.

The musical tells you about Hamilton's life. Its shocking opening line describes him as a “bastard, orphan son of a whore”. He was a poor immigrant who came from St. Croix and rose to power as Washington’s aide during the War of Independence. In the second act, he forms the United States monetary system, writes 51 articles defining the Constitution, and has the first American sex scandal. All before his tragic death. Though Hamilton lived over 200 years ago, his story, as told by Miranda, relates to today. It provides us a hopeful vision of a fairer America with opportunities for all.

When Disney+ began streaming the movie version, I subscribed. I watched it that evening, savoring the original cast performing in my living room. The opulent costumes and dazzling acting delighted me. The high definition images of Miranda’s perspiration and Jonathan Groff’s spittle were stunning. The rapping, prancing Daveed Diggs was a hoot.

I now understand my friends' intensity who paid for theater seats. Maybe I didn’t experience their theater atmosphere, but I controlled my viewing experience. I even used the closed-caption option to help me absorb the rapid-fire lyrics. The best part is I could enjoy it all again.

The next weekend my step-daughter came over and we viewed the musical together, sitting seven feet apart, each sporting a mask. I’d seen Hamilton six times by then, with each one I discovered details I missed earlier. (The nerd information level is high.) Marie loved it. She reveled in the close-up camera shots saying, “It’s better than the touring show I went to last year.”

I only watch the feature once a week now. Instead, I have its catchy music playing through any speaker paired to my phone. The song list is a feast of hip-hop, rap, and R&B. I listen when walking the dog, cleaning the house, and driving the car. (You get the idea.) At other times, unexpected random Hamilton songs pop into my brain.

Perhaps you love Hamilton’s wordplay as much as I do. The way the music lingers in your conscience proves Miranda’s creative genius. The songs are inspiring. They tell me to stay happy, scrappy, and to “not give up my shot”.

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