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REVIEW: 'Hamilton' makes vivid display for the Fourth

REVIEW: 'Hamilton' makes vivid display for the Fourth


“Hamilton” is as much of a classic in its movie incarnation as it is on stage.

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the hip-hop music and lyrics for this utterly brilliant stage production, beautifully directed by Thomas Kail.

Although it seems to me this show has been on everybody’s lips, both for its marvelous music and its coveted tickets, it really hasn’t been around that long. “Hamilton” premiered on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers to the public on Aug. 6, 2015. Now you can see for yourself why it earned 16 Tony Award nominations, and won Best Musical and 10 others.

I imagine there are other soon-to-be fans, like me, who for one reason or another have not caught the stage production and will finally be able to embrace this incredible show.

How smart it was of Disney to make a film – a “live capture,” complete with a teeny-tiny intermission – of the show. It gives viewers the best seat in the house to see members of the original Broadway cast.

The movie was supposed to open in October, but Disney moved it up a few months and, because of COVID-19 and theater closures, decided to open it now as a streaming option on Disney + to better coincide with the Fourth of July.

Miranda himself, of course, is Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury for the United States.

Leslie Odom Jr. is Aaron Burr, sneering at Hamilton, whom he loathes instantly — except they could have been friends had their situations been different. “Talk less. Smile more,” Burr advises the intense Hamilton.

The marvelous Daveed Diggs plays both the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. The incredible Philippa Soo as Eliza, Hamilton’s wife, is a tragic, fascinating character who vies with others for Hamilton’s love.

To see this show in this racially charged moment in the country’s history gives its themes new meaning, from George Washington’s comments on the French Revolution as “rioting” to his lines about “partisan fighting.”

And the rhymes come so thick, fast and wittily – “quagmire” and “flag higher!” – you’ll find yourself wanting to watch it again just to catch all the wordplay.

Kail, who directed the stage version too, and earned a Tony Award for it, directs our eyes, with close-ups at just the right dramatic movement and broader views that emphasize the terrific choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler.

“The Room Where It Happens” and the glorious “Alexander Hamilton” are among my favorites.

When I first heard about the show, I could not imagine it actually told a moving story. But it does, and the tragic finale is likely to move you to tears.

Now’s your chance to see “Hamilton” … probably more than once.


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Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.

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