Alison LaCroix on Hamilton

The Rooms Where It Happened

First things first:  

(1) Yes, it is brilliant.

(2) Tickets purchased last September, nearly seven months before the date of the performance that I attended, were merely expensive, not fisc-shattering.  

(3) The book, published in April, stands as a piece of the total work of art.

Since its debut at New York’s Public Theater in February 2015 and its subsequent move uptown to Broadway six months later, Hamilton: An American Musical has cut an exuberant swath through American culture. Like the Continental light infantry swarming over the redoubts at Yorktown, the show and its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, have laid successful siege to a battery of prestigious awards: MacArthur, Pulitzer, Grammy, and – virtually inevitably, given its record-setting number of nominations – Tony. This haul of prizes rewards a work that powerfully celebrates both history and the challenges of the historian’s trade.

Whether one is absorbing it from the seats in the Richard Rodgers Theatre, the original cast recording, or the deliberately patina-ed pages of the companion volume, Hamilton is important because it is, as Miranda has said, “a story about America then, told by America now.” It delivers complex, forceful messages about the power of words, the historian’s craft, and the legacy of the founders. Indeed,Hamilton may be most superlative as an artwork that depicts what it means to be a teller of history.

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