Who Tells Your Story?: The Journalism on Hamilton

Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton face off in the greatest cabinet meeting/rap battle you’ve ever seen. Photo courtesy ashbydodd.com.

I know what you’re thinking, dear reader: “She’s going to talk about Hamilton yet again?” You bet your sweet cheeks I am. But I’m not going to praise Lin-Manuel’s incredible lyricism or how he was able to score and write and act in a single historical rap musical all at once. In fact, I’m going to talk about how that’s all anyone can talk about.

I get it: there’s not a lot of rap musicals that admit to being rap musicals. Sondheim has written some of the craziest tongue twister showtunes ever (like the line”while her wither withers with her” from Into the Woods? Or “Getting Married Today” from Company? Lay it on me, Steve), but as a whole, his musicals don’t reflect the genre. Even more than that, nobody has thought of the idea of a rap musical based around American history. But Hamilton has been running for almost ten months now, including its Off-Broadway run, and as much as I’m happy for its success, I’m getting sick of the news stories being the same.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll see in every Hamilton feature ever:

  • Okay you guys, okay, you’re not even going to believe this, but there’s a RAP MUSICAL based on ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Whaaaaaaat!
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation and picked up, at random, Ron Chernow’s biography on Hamilton and thus, the legend was born
  • Non-white people playing white people. Outrageous!
  • The word “urban”
  • Celebrities that come to see the show (e.g., POTUS has come twice)
  • The story of Miranda googling if a hip hop musical on Hamilton already existed. Guess what, it didn’t!

Here’s what you won’t see in Hamilton features:

  • Phillipa Soo, who plays Eliza Schulyer Hamilton, on her Broadway debut and how she’s definitely earning a Tony nom
  • Hamilton’s fluid sexuality, which Miranda openly talks about on Twitter, and his alleged relationship with John Laurens
  • How intricately involved that Hamilton and Aaron Burr were in each other’s lives (even more so than in the musical — Burr was Maria Reynolds’ divorce lawyer after she had an affair with A. Ham!)

As a journalism student, I’m getting sick of the same story over and over again. I love watching features like the one on 60 Minutes this past Sunday, but only because I get to see new footage of the show. I know how it got written. I know how we got here. But it’s time that we take a new perspective.

There’s been little to no press on Allegiance, which just opened on Broadway, starring George Takei and Lea Salonga about Japanese internment camps during the Second World War. There’s been little to no press on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock musical that started previews yesterday. Journalists, take note — you’ve got the world excited about musical theatre for the first time since RENT. Let’s spread the love.

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