The recent release of the Hamilton pro shot on Disney+ means a lot of things to a lot of different people. For Disney, it’s another success they can add to the tally, thousands of people subscribing to their streaming service for the express reason of watching the Broadway musical in all its glory.
For Lin Manuel Miranda, whose other musical In the Heights was also due to be released as a film this summer (but has been pushed back to June 2021), it must be a dream come true.
For the cast, it has been an opportunity to relive a production that made so many of them stars outside of the world of theatre. In fact, they may now be some of the most well-known theatre actors in the world, Hamilton attracting not just the usual theatre-going community but reaching further than any Broadway production of the past.
And for the Theatre community it’s an incredible step in the direction of a more accessible version of theatre. The arguments – both for and against – on the availability of show recordings is an ongoing and vehement one, but Hamilton’s success has proven that not only is it possible, but craved by many who would not ordinarily have access to his world.
With Broadway closed until 2021, along with hundreds of thousands of theatres across the globe, the release of a pro shot gave lovers of theatre the incredible chance to see live theatre in the midst of a pandemic. It’s hard to understate what that means to so many.
And it’s not just any show; winner of 11 Tony Awards, Hamilton has become one of the most well-known and popular musicals ever. With good reason, I might add.
By now, everyone is aware of Lin Manuel Miranda’s genius; his ability to manipulate words is a once-in-a-generation talent. But the original Broadway cast don’t just solidly perform the words he wrote for them, they bring the characters to life. Figures from America’s turbulent beginning are re-envisioned, telling a story of an idyllic American history where revolution, whilst recognised as a cause of pain, is a bringer of hope and a step on the path of progression.
In watching Hamilton, it’s difficult to know what to look at. The sheer amount of talent onstage is phenomenal, every movement of every figure on stage adding to the story being told. And that’s not to mention the talent behind the scenes. Hamilton shows what can happen when every element of theatre comes together and performs at their best: story, lyrics, music, actors, costume designers, staging, lighting. Hamilton is theatre at its best.
Released at such a difficult time for the world, Hamilton is a story of progress. Of revolution. It might not be perfect, but for a lot of people it will provide hope. Hope that theatre will survive. Hope that theatre can become more accessible.
Hope that the world will survive, and can change for the better in the process.
If there’s one thing the world needs right now, it is hope.