Hamilton’s America: A Window into the Creation of America’s Most Popular Musical

ham-fbHamilton’s America is an engaging documentary that allows the viewer a look into the creation of Hamilton, an award-winning Broadway musical written by Lin Manuel Miranda about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, from the perspectives of those involved most intimately in its creation. It also provides an in-depth look into Hamilton’s life and how Miranda felt personally connected to it.

The documentary reveals a lot about the musical that I otherwise would not have realized. This includes Miranda’s choices regarding the style each character sings in. Take Jefferson, for example. When he first appears, singing the song “What’d I Miss,” he isn’t rapping like everyone else. Instead, he’s singing a jazz song. The reason for this choice is to show that Jefferson, who was in France during the Revolution, was so far behind everyone else.

Other than revealing tricks, it also touches on the thoughts the actors had about who they played and how they got into character. The actors immersed themselves in the history of their characters, even going to their homes. Christopher Jackson, the actor who originally played Washington, for example, went to Washington’s home, stood inside the slaves’ quarters, and tried to reconcile the image of the great Founding Father with the reality of owning human beings.

Miranda explains how many parallels he sees between Hamilton’s story and the story of his father. Both were immigrants who came to a new country and reinvented themselves by getting an education and trying to improve their situations.

For me, seeing the thoughts behind Hamilton’s creation, and the connections Miranda had to Hamilton’s story made the show a lot more personal. Seeing this documentary made me feel as if I knew not only the actors, but also the Founding Fathers. It was both entertaining and informative, a rare combination. On the whole, I would give it a 10/10.

(Copyright 2017 Nora Santiago)