By Enobong Ukpong, July 14 2020—
A hip-hop musical about an American Founding Father might have seemed outlandish before, but since Hamilton: An American Musical premiered off-Broadway in 2015, it has been a cultural phenomenon, going on to win 11 Tonys and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2016. And on July 3, Hamilton, the professionally filmed take on Broadway with the original cast debuted on Disney+, opening the next chapter of this iconic story.
As the original cast album has been out for four years, it’s generally agreed that the music in Hamilton is beautiful, but it’s a joy to finally see the actors match the beauty of the music with their performances. One of the highlights of this would be Leslie Odom Jr.’s beautiful performance of Wait For It. For much of the song all he is doing is standing in the middle of the stage as blue light falls on him, but his acting still adds so much more to the song.
Besides singing, what makes this film is the choreography. It’s not only visually appealing but it’s also used creatively, expressing ideas without the need for words. While most of the dancing is hip-hop in accordance with the show’s theme, the dancers do deviate to other styles, most noticeably ballet and traditional show-tunes. One of the most impressive dance sequences is in The World Turned Upside Down, in the interlude between before the last couple of verses. It feels chaotic, but it’s all synchronized: an excellent allusion to a battle’s organized chaos. And while it’s not as impressive, if you decide to watch Hamilton, I encourage you to look at the backup dancers when any of the characters need to receive a letter. It’s over-the-top, but it sure is fun to watch.
And that is what really makes this film fun to watch, because Hamilton is really a stage production, you’ll often get to see things you might have missed as an audience member. It really does make you appreciate that there is not a missed detail on that stage, and that gives you something every film wants: a reason to watch it again and again.
Hamilton has been a success with theatre and streaming audiences. Will this signal in a new age of professionally filmed Broadway shows in the future? Maybe. But as far as Hamilton’s story, this chapter was a massive success.