The time has finally come, dear friends, that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking, award-winning, genre-shifting, jaw-dropping masterpiece Hamilton has hit the Sydney stage.
Given that Broadway is still shuttered as America continues to wrestle itself from the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, it feels even more special that Australian audiences are able to witness these productions and that a new generation of theatre go-ers can be transported by Miranda’s epic hip-hop prose.
If you are one of the lucky people who have purchased tickets to Hamilton, or if you are planning to do so, here are some fast facts to get you prepared for the show.
Who Was Alexander Hamilton?
Alexander Hamilton was one of the founding fathers of America and the first US secretary of the treasury. An immigrant from the Caribbean, Hamilton became George Washington’s right-hand man during the American Revolutionary War and a staunch political rival to Thomas Jefferson.
Having been instrumental in the ratification of the US Constitution, Hamilton went on to author The Federalist Papers, which explained and support the provisions of the historic document.
In addition to those achievements, he founded the Bank of New York in 1784, America’s oldest continuous banking organisation, and also started the New-York Evening Post —that grew into one of America’s most successful papers, the New York Post.
Hamilton, who is featured on the American ten-dollar bill, was killed in a duel with Vice President and arch-nemesis Aaron Burr on 12 July, 1804.
What Does the Musical Focus On?
The show is divided into two acts, with the first one covering Hamilton’s arrival in New York in 1776 where he befriends Aaron Burr, John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan and becomes George Washington’s aide.
The first act also covers Hamilton meeting and falling in love with the aristocratic Eliza Schuyler, whom he marries and starts a family with.
We also see the end of the Revolutionary War and the ascension of George Washington to the first President of the United States, appointing Hamilton as the Secretary of the Treasury and the latter writing of the Federalist Papers.
Act two spans 1789 to 1804 and sees Hamilton fired by new president John Adams, facing a scandal as details of his affair come to light and his escalating animosity with Aaron Burr which results in his untimely death.
We also learn how Eliza kept her husbands legacy alive through activism and altruism.
How Did Lin-Manuel Miranda Come Up With the Idea?
The US Secretary of the Treasury may seem an odd choice to write a musical on — and a hip-hop musical at that — but Miranda felt compelled to do so during a Mexican vacation on which he read Ron Chernow’s biography about Hamilton, and began to imagine it as a musical.
The composer was so intrigued by Hamilton’s story that he was sure someone must have already written a musical about him, telling Vogue in 2015, “I was like, ‘This is an album. No, this is a show. How has no one done this?’ It was the fact that Hamilton wrote his way off the island where he grew up. That’s the hip-hop narrative. So, I Googled ‘Alexander Hamilton hip-hop musical’ and totally expected to see that someone had already written it. But no. So I got to work.”
That work paid off and the musical has since won a staggering 11 Tony Awards and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, among others.
Miranda performed the first rap he wrote for the musical (which took him a year) at an evening of music and spoken word at the White House in 2009 in front of then-POTUS and FLOTUS, Barack and Michelle Obama.
Why Do People Love Hamilton So Much
In the simplest terms, because it’s so different. Miranda is nothing short of a lyrical genius and blends the genres of rap, hip-hop, pop and jazz in a way that is both innovative and captivating. It’s also an absolute feat of fast-paced dialogue, clocking in at 144 words per minute, with a total word count of 20,520.
The musical has been praised for its examinations of themes that are both historically and currently relevant — such as the importance of immigrants and their undeniable contributions to America (and the world).
Hamilton has also been praised for its use of diverse cast members, which not only flies a flag for the importance of inclusion, but represents a more accurate depiction of what modern-day America looks like.
How Accurate Is the Musical?
As wonderful as it would be to imagine the Constitution being created by the very cross-section of people who would be living under it, the key players in Hamilton were all, in fact, white.
Other than that, Miranda used some creative license with the history, but for the most part, was a stickler for the facts, and even hired Chernow as a consultant on the project.
Meet the Cast
Here’s the Australian cast for Hamilton.
Alexander Hamilton — Jason Arrow
Find Jason on Instagram, here.
Eliza Hamilton — Chloé Zuel
Find Chloé on Instagram, here.
Aaron Burr — Lyndon Watts
Find Lyndon on Instagram, here.
Angelica Schuyler — Akina Edmonds
Find Akina on Instagram, here.
George Washington — Matu Ngaropo
Find Matu on Instagram, here.
Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson — Victory Ndukwe
Find Victory on Instagram, here.
Hercules Mulligan/James Madison — Shaka Cook
Find Shaka on Instagram, here.
John Laurens/Philip Hamilton — Marty Alix
Find Marty on Instagram, here.
Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds — Elandrah Eramiha
Find Elandrah on Instagram, here.
King George III — Brent Hill
Find Brent on Instagram, here.
Rounding out the cast are: Kirrah Amosa, Daniel Assetta, Kyla Bartholomeusz, Isaac Bradley, Olivia Carniato, Luca Dinardo, Jeffery Duffy, Keanu Gonzalez, Winston Hillyer, Jimmie “J.J.” Jeter, Julian Kuo, Iosefa Laga’aia, Stefan Lagoulis, Ashton Lash, Loredo Malcolm, Jayme Jo Massoud, James Maxfield, Callan Purcell, Zelia Rose, Tainga Savage, Jas Smith-Sua, Tigist Strode, Kim Taylor, Romina Villafranca and Zachary Webster.
Hamilton is playing at the Sydney Lyric Theatre from March 17. Purchase tickets, here.