Hamilton

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Re: Hamilton

Post by EricJ » July 5th, 2020, 6:33 pm

Basically, it's a "Street fantasy" by one writer who--having no knowledge of Hamilton outside of the $10 bill--discovered that young Hamilton grew up on a poor slave-plantation in the Caribbean, and thought he WAS a "freed black slave"...And, like that loopy King Arthur movie a while back, gives us the hip-hop story of Big @13X and his Revo-Posse.
(There's one scene where we hear what happened to one officer who tried to create a freed-black-slave division of the Continental Army and failed...Neglecting to admit that it was historically Gen. Washington who turned down the idea, believing that blacks were "too undisciplined" to fight.)

I'm not sure whether Miranda is black (I gather from "In the Heights" he's Latin?), but the whole musical seems to be the same wishful urban selective-education cherrypicked-history idea that it was really BLACK PEOPLE who created history, while white people, like our overpraised Founding Fathers, were either wimps, loyalists, or jealous scheming backstabbers.
Given that most of the audience knows nothing about the real Hamilton-Burr duel either--and the current Millennial/Gen-Y loathing and demonization of history until they discover a neat, interesting story they get hooked on--this almost plays like the History version of the "Venus Flytrap explains the atom" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. ("See, Washington needed his...wingman to fight the British gang!")
I heard one fan on Twitter say that his fangirl friend had to do a historical project for college, chose Aaron Burr for obvious reasons, and discovered, quote, "...He was WHITE??" Er, yeah--Would she be surprised to learn that Lafayette was, too?

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Bill1978 » July 5th, 2020, 11:57 pm

Thanks for all the feedback on if Hamilton is worth watching if I didn't enjoy the recording as a whole. Sounds like I might as well skip it, especially since there is no longer a free trial period on Disney+. Often I can overlook average songs if the choreography is impressive etc. And as a non-American I feel I am already behind the 8 ball when it comes to the story so will not be able to follow along well enough to enjoy it. I feel the same with the story told in Les Mis, so much time jumping and assumption I know the history - but at least that has some memorable tunes.

I do wonder how long Disney+ will stick to its family friendly approach to what is on there and what gets shifted to Hulu. After reading Ben's review I'm more annoyed now that Love, Victor was shoved over to Hulu for not meeting Disney+ wholesome requirement but Hamilton does.

I am sure eventually I will see some form of a Hamilton production but for the time being I will go and sit with the small group of people who don't think it's the bee knees of musical theatre.

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Bill1978 » July 6th, 2020, 12:05 am

EricJ wrote:
July 5th, 2020, 6:33 pm
I heard one fan on Twitter say that his fangirl friend had to do a historical project for college, chose Aaron Burr for obvious reasons, and discovered, quote, "...He was WHITE??" Er, yeah--Would she be surprised to learn that Lafayette was, too?
Random question and I hope it doesn't spark a heated debate - but can Hamilton be produced with say a Caucasian playing the lead role etc? Is there anything in the rights that says they can't. I understand the concept behind Miranda's decision but wondering if it is a requirement of staging a production. I know in Hairspray, amateur or school productions are required to put a disclaimer out if the population of the area can't fulfil the requirements.

My local amateur production put on Hairspray a few years ago and let's just say the theatre community in my town is not known for the large diversity required for that show. They put something in their program that basically said we (as an audience) have to imagine race, they didn't use blackface but they shoved quite a lot of random non-Caucasian people into the various roles and some people had tanned themselves. It was quite uncomfortable to watch and to this day I don't understand out of all the musicals that exist why they chose to do Hairspray.

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Randall » July 6th, 2020, 1:44 am

That's an interesting question, Bill. Even pre-Covid-19, there were very few productions of Hamilton out there (New York, London, a travelling show or two?), and the intent to produce a "full-coloured" show was clear. A place like London would not have difficulty fulfilling that requirement, assumed or otherwise. Likewise, a national travelling production, even in predominantly white countries like Canada or Australia, could easily audition enough talented people of colour to fulfill the requirement, given the multicultural mix of at least their larger cities. Once the show is licensed out more to regional, smaller city-based companies, the notion of making such requirements contractual is intriguing. And, of course, those countries which are not white-dominant would not necessarily have any issue with casting people of colour anyway.

But for non-American productions of Hamilton, does the colour-blind/colour-focused casting even carry the same cache as it does in the States - especially since those outside the US aren't even all that familiar with the actual history to start with? In short, does anyone else care? This is such a purely American production in so many ways that those casting choices just don't carry as much weight elsewhere, even if we as an audience recognize that all those characters were actually white in reality. To fully appreciate the intended significance of the casting, one must take on an American mentality. Not that there are not racial issues elsewhere (everywhere?), but Hamilton is a uniquely American production, with uniquely American inherent concerns. Incidentally, the play's reception in Miranda's ancestral home of Puerto Rico was somewhat mixed, though that was... complicated.
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2019/ ... omplicated

For the play to work, does it have to have a cast predominantly made up of people of colour? Not really, yet to do otherwise would be to challenge the play's intent. The musical style may work better with that type of cast, but even that is arguable (and perhaps racist to say). Are hip-hop and rap all that "non-white" at this point? I can't rap, but Eminem seems to do pretty well with it. But now that I have enjoyed the cast that they had, it is difficult to imagine a predominantly white cast taking over - just like an all-white production of The Wiz would seem weird. It would simply go against either play's original intent. Similarly, a black Annie was weird to see in 2014, though that was a more contemporary take. And that multiracial French village in Beauty and the Beast was weird to see, due to the time period setting. Casting by race/ignoring race is such an interesting notion. I tend to favour historical accuracy generally, though Hamilton had something to say with its casting. I'm just not convinced that its casting choice is as relevant outside of the USA.

Something else: Whereas Hamilton tried to portray its protagonist as an immigrant "making good," having EVERYONE in the main cast being of colour makes the point less visually obvious. Hamilton was white anyway (I assume), but it might have been more interesting had the Latin Miranda's role be played by someone who looked more western European, and then have the rest of the cast be black or southern European in appearance.

And in a time when we are being asked to see past colour, we are ironically being called to be so focused on it. It then becomes funny when "each" side accuses the "other" side of "playing identity politics," either by wanting to talk about it or by wanting to ignore the issues. So complicated!

(Sidebar, to go along with the Hairspray story: This also reminds me of seeing Pride and Prejudice at a local theatre last year. Of all the plays to go colour-blind with the casting! They actually had two of the daughters being black and Chinese, which visually was problematic. In an English family of that period looking to climb socially through marriage, the multiracial daughters really made no sense historically, and it was hard to look past it. My Asian-ancestry wife, who adores Jane Austen's stories, really disagreed (hated!) with the casting, and would have preferred seeing an all-white cast in order to be historically accurate. Later in the season, we saw Boeing Boeing, and the Chinese-ancestry actress played the role of the Italian flight attendant. That worked fine, though, as there are Italians now of Chinese descent living in Italy. And Boeing Boeing isn't about class or race anyway. The actress's race therefore wasn't relevant.)

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Re: Hamilton

Post by droosan » July 6th, 2020, 2:05 am

Watched it this afternoon; I rather enjoyed it .. and that was with me never having heard any of the songs, before seeing it. I wasn't aware that most of 'em trended more toward hip-hop, either .. I found that a little jarring at first, but I quickly accepted and rolled with it. 8)

I was familiar with the actual history and persons involved -- and even noted where some events were condensed or glossed-over .. but, as I've said before on this forum: IMHO, there is more than one way to tell any story .. and AFAIC, that includes 'true' ones.

As to casting, the only thing that really 'threw' me were the actors who played multiple roles .. not sure what that was about, other than keeping the cast size to a bare minimum. :? But there again, I've never had a problem with an actor's appearance/skin tone not being an 'exact match' to a character, whether fictional or historical .. all that really matters is the performance; and I thought everyone was excellent, in that regard.

Having not been exposed to Hamilton hype may have helped me enjoy it more, than if I had .. but I'd still be hard-pressed to label it "the bee's knees of musical theatre". :lol: I liked it .. but it didn't knock any titles off of my personal list of favorite musicals. :wink:

I still think a Schoolhouse Rock-style animated adaptation of Hamilton would, well, rock. :mrgreen:

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Re: Hamilton

Post by EricJ » July 6th, 2020, 4:44 am

Regarding the college-project story:
I had a great history professor, who talked me into doing mine on Thomas Jefferson, who I learned to like for his Age of Enlightenment smarts, despite his later political faults. (The musical saying "Virginia had da slaves, mic drop!" is doing a jawdroppingly imaginary disservice to one of the US's earliest lone abolitionists, who would have put anti-slavery into the Declaration of Independence if South Carolina hadn't acted like racist jerks.)

So, watching the musical, I at least had enough historical background to know that the real Jefferson was white, didn't dress in pimp-purple, or jump around like Morris Day & the Time.
Something else: Whereas Hamilton tried to portray its protagonist as an immigrant "making good,"
Again, it seems to be the only thing Miranda DID know about Hamilton going in--

That, and my complaint that the Mainstream Broadway Musical seems to have become extinct, except for gay cult-movie musicals, self-marketing studio-bankrolled cult-movie musicals, or--when we do get some young, new, original songwriter--stories about how great and colorful it is to live in NEW YORK CITY!
It's true that NYC was President Washington's first capital before DC was built, and Hamilton wanted it to be the business/trade capital as well as the political one...But even though Jefferson's Democrat-vs-Federalist compromise with Hamilton over the states' war debt resulted in the capital being put in Maryland, he's literally made out to be the villain because, quote, "It could've been New York!! We weren't there at the table to know what corrupt backroom negotiations really happened!"

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Re: Hamilton

Post by droosan » July 6th, 2020, 9:13 am

:|

Y'know how -- in MCU's Ant Man movies -- there'd be an occasional scene where Luis would relate a bit of exposition which was uniquely from his own POV .. right down to the characters in his 'back-story' actually behaving and speaking with Michael Peña's voice..? **

The entirety of Hamilton is basically that. And that (IMO) is what makes the casting and music/costume/overall story-telling styles of its presentation 'work' so well.

To paraphrase Ben Kenobi: this is the story of Alexander Hamilton .. from a certain point-of-view. It's very deliberately not intended as a 'documentary' of the actual events or people portrayed .. and whether certain 'founding fathers' are presented as 'villains' is very much a product of the voice with which the story is being told.

At least, that was my take on it ..

-------------------

** and, boy howdy -- IMHO, did Avengers: Endgame ever miss a golden opportunity to have Luis 'recap' the events of Infinity War to Scott Lang, from his POV, upon Scott's return from the quantum realm .. imagine Thanos, speaking with Peña's voice & mannerisms! .. how hilarious that could've been..?! :lol:

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Re: Hamilton

Post by Daniel » July 8th, 2020, 2:32 pm

Listen to Act 1 of Hamilton by The Muppets: (fanmade)



From what I've previewed, the voices and Muppetisms seem to be spot on! Pretty amazing.

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