History has its eyes on ‘Hamilton’: Unique soundtrack soars above expectations
December 2, 2015
Filed under Curtain Call
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This week, I decided to finally hop on the musical theatre bandwagon and talk about “Hamilton.” The buzz about this new musical has been crazy; in fact, within four months of opening, it has become the most popular musical currently on Broadway, according to a list from broadway.com. In addition, it has already sold out every show up until June 2016 except for one. Naturally, I wanted to see what all the excitement was about, and I was beyond astonished by what I found. This musical is quite possibly the most revolutionary (pun intended) show since Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.” “Hamilton” is helping to broaden the idea of what musical theatre can be with its unique plotline and musical style.
“Hamilton” is a heavily rap and hip-hop influenced musical about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, from his childhood to his career to his marriage to Elizabeth Schuyler and untimely death. When I first heard the concept of the show, I thought there was no way in a million years that it could be done. Making a musical set in the 1700s that featured rap music? The idea seemed outrageous. However, I did have a small glimmer of hope for the show because of one man who was involved: Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda is a familiar name for Broadway fans; he was the composer, lyricist, and lead actor of “In the Heights” and the co-composer/co-lyricist of “Bring It On: The Musical.” In the past, I have always been impressed with Miranda’s work, so the fact that Miranda was writing the book, music and lyrics along with starring as Alexander Hamilton in the show made the whole thing seem a lot more plausible.
When I finally heard the soundtrack, I was absolutely blown away. Miranda has written absolutely amazing musicals before, but nothing quite like this. Firstly, this musical’s soundtrack was a lot more involved than some of his others, because “Hamilton” features no spoken dialogue in between songs; listening to the soundtrack is essentially hearing the whole show from start to finish. Therefore, it was a lot more for Miranda to write, but he definitely proved he had the stamina for it. The amount of energy in the upbeat songs and the emotion in others is enough to make this soundtrack phenomenal. But when you take that and add in the insanely talented vocalists, the beautiful harmonies the cast produces and the incredible writing of the songs, the soundtrack becomes completely sensational.
I would especially like to highlight the talents of Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr and Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton. I had never actually heard of Odom before I heard the Hamilton soundtrack, but I thought his acting and vocals were incredible. He was one of the few male leads who did a lot more singing than rapping. He portrayed the wide range of emotions that Burr handles throughout the show flawlessly and his smooth, clear tone sounded wonderful and was a great fit for his character. “Hamilton” is Soo’s Broadway debut, which I found surprising, since her voice is good enough that I assumed she had held many roles on Broadway before. Eliza goes through so much suffering in the show, from the death of her son to the public affair of her husband. Soo allowed her voice to show so much of this emotion while still maintaining proper singing technique, which created a mesmerizingly beautiful and sorrowful sound. I think Soo will definitely become a familiar face to Broadway soon.
Overall, the soundtrack of “Hamilton” is one of the best things I’ve heard come out of Broadway in a very long time. I truly love this soundtrack and cannot wait for the show to tour so I can see the magic of “Hamilton” onstage.