The Katz Meow: Hamilton Craze

If you have been at school in the last month or so, which hopefully you have, there are some new things at Latin you might have noticed— from the sleep-deprived teachers (thanks to the looming deadline for finishing college recs) to the new cheese sauce at the mac-n-cheese bar, the first quarter has been a busy time at Latin. There may also be some key “new” but not necessarily “improved” vocab words that you may have heard as you walk down the halls, which have become part of the typical Latin student’s everyday vocabulary. An example of some words that may be heard rolling off people’s tongues at this time of year with the same frequency as leaves are gently falling off the trees: Tired, Hungry, Stressed, and, of course, let’s not forget: Hamilton. Although I have not yet had the great privilege of sitting in The Room Where it Happens, the rap-based account of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, written by the star and creator himself, Lin Manuel Miranda, is the talk of the town (well the talk of cafeteria and classrooms, but same idea). So the real question is: why? Why is everyone raving about this broadway production? How is it any better than the beloved Newsies, Wicked or Rent? Since I have not actually seen the show (yet) I gathered insight from some of my Hamilton-obsessed classmates to get real answers as to why I find them in my math class, during Gathering, or even in Best Buddies belting classics such as the “The Schuyler Sisters” and “My Shot.” We should always remember that we usually don’t sound how we think we sound when singing…just something to keep in mind, folks. Junior Alex Rickett exclaims, “If we’re being honest here, I’ve never had a real interest in history—it has always been a class that is hard for me to stay engaged in and be passionate about. The amazing thing about Hamilton is that the delivery of this dense period of history is all in song, specifically rap, which makes it super easy for our generation to relate with and engage in.” As a junior, I am currently immersed in the study of American History, and for all of us at Latin, and one point or another, we have taken a similar course. In the greater scheme of things, the Historiographical analysis of American History (shoutout to Ms. Gallagher for teaching me that word), for most, is dry and colorless. Hamilton brings this fragment of American History to life in an engaging rap battle (Listen to Cabinet Battle Number 1). Erik Piepenburg from the New York Times confidently publicized that “Hamilton is on track to become one of the biggest critical and commercial hits in Broadway history. It won 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album” (Piepenburg). Aside from it’s engaging structure and music genre, the cast of Hamilton is extremely diverse, contrary to the nonexistent diversity of the actual eighteenth-century founding fathers. Lin Manuel Miranda claims, “Our cast looks like America looks now, and that’s certainly intentional…It’s a way of pulling you into the story and allowing you to leave whatever cultural baggage you have about the founding fathers at the door” (Miranda via NY Times). Miranda’s point is a good one, dissolving any discomfort with the saying in theatre that “someone who plays the part should look the part.” How America looked four centuries ago is nothing like, nor should it be, what America consists of and resembles today. Sophie Norris, one senior that We Know is more obsessed with Hamilton than physically possible, shares with The Forum, “Hamilton was introduced to me by my older sister after she got to see the performance in New York. After Molly introduced the show to me, the soundtrack was on repeat everywhere I went with my family. We listened to it on a daily basis and the brilliance of Lin Manuel Miranda and Alexander Hamilton was the chosen topic for every family dinner. My siblings and I told my parents that as long as we got to be in The Room Where It Happens, that would be enough. Feeling helpless, we begged one last time. Three weeks later we went, and saying I was satisfied is an understatement. It blew us all away and following the performance, we only appreciated every song even more—if that’s even possible. ‘What Comes Next?’ is all I can think about now.” Sophie, along with many others, feels so strongly about the show, which is one of the countless reasons I am dying to see it. “Even the best reviews don’t do it justice” says Simian Kohli, raving about the production. I think it is easy to conclude that seeing Hamilton is a life-changing experience, regardless of whether that means having a new album to constantly jam out to on Spotify, getting that A you have always wanted on your American Revolution paper, or even just having a better understanding of the life of Alexander Hamilton, a man who was discredited for his tremendous work, but stayed determined and claimed that he was “not throwin’ away my shot.”]]>