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Hamilton
A big bouquet to Disney streaming services for thinking of those of us who live outside the tri-state area, making it pretty much impossible for us to experience the sparkling and highly stylized Broadway experience Hamilton, which opened on Broadway in the summer of 2015, won 11 Tony Awards and was still running when the Co-Vid virus caused the closing of the production in March of 2020.

This 2020 film version of the musical is actually a filmed performance of the Broadway musical that was filmed in 2016 at the Richard Rodgers Theater. The musical focuses on Hamilton's arrival in New York where he meets with Aaron Burr, the Marquis de Lafayette, John Laurens, and Hercules Mulligan, who strategize about how they are going to bring their own skills to winning the revolutionary war, much to the chagrin of a panicked King George. We also watch Hamilton's fairy tale romance with Eliza Schuyler, which is complicated by Hamilton's unresolved feelings for Eliza's sister Angelica.

It's not long before Hamilton finds himself George Washington's right hand man in battling in the British, which actually ends up getting Hamilton appointed America's first Secretary of the Treasury, a position that severely affects his relationship with Aaron Burr, as well as future presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, not to mention his son Phillip, who is determined to make the most of his father's legacy, though it is never to be.

Even hardcore fans of the genre known as the Broadway musical will find themselves wading into virgin territory here, because this piece is unlike anything we've seen from Broadway before. The only Broadway composer whose work might rival Lin-Manuel Miranda in his style is Stephen Sondheim, though Miranda's music has the pulse of the 21st century...the majority of the libretto for this musical is done as a rap, accentuated with full musical numbers. What Miranda has done here is created the first rap opera. Miranda has taken a classic historical figure and broken down his story in a way that might be more accessible for general consumption, the same thing Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice did when they turned the last seven days in the life of Jesus into Jesus Christ Superstar.

I would be lying if I didn't say that this musical reminded me a lot of Jesus Christ Superstar in terms of the journey that this central character makes. He starts off as sort of a messiah of the 18th century who begins to believe his own press and before we realize it, the masses that have been worshiping him have morphed into a mob who decide he must be stopped. Hamilton is portrayed as a fearless rebel not the least bit intimidated by the likes of George Washington or anybody else, quietly working his way into Washington's graces, not concerned about who to step over to accomplish his mission. Is this what the real Alexander Hamilton was like? Who knows, but it makes for one hell of an entertaining musical.

I love the fact that director Thomas Kail filmed a stage performance of this piece, because this work is too stylized to work as a real movie, but it allows a lot more people to experience this musical who otherwise would have never had the opportunity. Lin-Manuel Miranda's funky and melodious score is the real star of the piece as it should be...not since West Side Story, have I seen the finger snap be such an integral part of a musical's orchestrations. Musical highlights include "My Shot", "A Winter's Ball", "Right Hand Man", "Ten Duel Commandments" and "Aaron Burr sir". This musical requires complete attention to the lyrics as there is no dialogue, and even though you won't catch everything, it's never uninteresting.

Miranda is wonderful in the title role and mention should also be made of Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica, Lamar Odom, Jr as Burr, Jonathan Groff as the madcap King George, and especially Daveed Diggs, who is absolutely dazzling in the dual role of Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. It's not for all tastes, especially people who hate musicals. but for musical lovers who like a dash of the offbeat, treasure will be found here.