The Fourth of July, a sparkling a celebration of the qualities that define this country, epitomizes the quintessential American holiday. But this year, our Independence Day celebration will be muted, somewhat ironically limited by behavioral rules and regulations impeding our freedom, imposed by an invading virus which threatens the health and safety of U.S. citizens as well as populations across the world. However, a patriotic antidote to a glum, colorless holiday will be made available on July 3; that’s when Disneyplus.com releases Hamilton; and if you enjoy it, you can watch it as many times as you want as long as you maintain your $6.99 subscription to the streaming platform!
Even though many hard-working Americans have not yet seen this blockbuster show because tickets are expensive and hard to come by, to say that Hamilton, the multiple-award-winning musical by Lin-Manual Miranda, is a hit diminishes the actual impact of this quite contemporary story of the lasting legacy of our Founding Fathers. Therefore, taking advantage of this opportunity to experience the phenomenon in your own home for just six dollars and ninety-nine cents is pretty much a no-brainer, just from an economic point of view (which is an appropriate perspective, as Alexander Hamilton essentially founded the economic system of our nation.) But that is only one argument for spending time in this world created on-stage that somehow encompasses the entire history of our nation.
The brilliant Alexander Hamilton, born out of wedlock in the West Indies and orphaned by the age of twelve, rose from his penniless beginnings to leave an amazing legacy which lives yet today in the country he helped found. Among his final lines in the play, Hamilton defines legacy as “planting seeds in a garden you never get to see,” and describes America as “a great unfinished symphony” where he was allowed to “make a difference,” helping create “ a place where even orphan immigrants can leave their fingerprints and rise up!” Just that basic insight offers inspiration for investing a little time and money into finding out what all the fuss is about, don’tcha think?
All of the relevant historic characters are included — wise, courageous George Washington, idealistic, yet necessarily realistic Thomas Jefferson, darkly comedic King George, and of course, Aaron Burr, the New York politician who ended Hamilton’s life with a gunshot. The women in Hamilton’s life are also beautifully represented as full-blown contributors to the new nation being born, a place of chaos and emotion not unlike the nation in which we live today. The story incorporates the contributions of a diverse contingent of Americans, many of whom were not native to the land which they helped to shape.
Although I cannot comprehend how Miranda conceived and executed his stage play based on the intelligent and insightful 731-page Hamilton biography written by historian Ron Chernow, I do understand how the story told through a musical production uses the elements of theatre to fulfill its mission, communicating directly to my heart and soul while also stimulating my brain. Art has a long tradition of shaping public perception of history; Hamilton leaves audiences with a profound sense of the possibilities inherent in the founding of this nation, possibilities which still speak to us today.
Have a happy and meaningful Fourth of July!