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Review: Revolutionary Hamilton comes to a difficult time | Entertainment




The revolution is finally televised, thank God.

The long-awaited live broadcast of Shake-the-rafters musical Lin-Manuel Mirandas is released on Disney + on Friday, the occasion to celebrate the independence of the Americas with some of its founding fathers.

The timing seems ideal. Or, given everything that has rocked this nation in recent months, couldn’t it be revolutionary enough?

The show presents the original Broadway cast that Miranda called an incredible 28 Yankees of actors and was filmed in the summer of 2016 at the Richard Rodgers Theater in front of a noisy crowd. RadicalMedia, which recorded Rent’s last night, recorded two performances of Hamilton and asked the actors on leave to come back for close-ups.

The show won 11 Tony Awards, including Best New Musical, Best Book, and Best Score. The casting album was a blockbuster and the show shot in crowded houses. But it is only in this filmed version that the original cast marries again with the choreography of Andy Blankenbuehlers and the lighting design of Howell Binkleys. These are all seeds of the conquering greatness of the world.

Thomas Kail, who directed the success of Grease: Live on Fox and won a Tony for directing Hamilton, directed the filmed version. The Kails camera captures the intimate faces of the actors at key moments in a way impossible for theater lovers and integrates the reaction of the public to create an electric filmed version.

The music traces the rise and fall of statesman Alexander Hamilton and highlights his orphan and immigrant origins. We do the job! is a line which receives enormous applause as well as its almost Greek tragedy of a fall, nourished by ambition.

It is difficult to underestimate the freshness of Hamilton just a few years ago: a reconquest of the founding history of the Americas through a multicultural distribution using modern music, language and themes. Based on a biography of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron-Chernow and developed under the chairmanship of the first black president, the show was upbeat and ambitious, changing Broadway traditions but also respecting them. What other spectacle would two founding fathers oppose in a rap battle to know whether to help France?

Many members of the brilliant cast were relatively unknown from around the world when they reached the stage: Daveed Diggs, René Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Leslie Odom Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos and Phillipa Soo. Even Miranda, who plays Hamilton and wrote the songs and history of musicals, was not yet a brand name.

The music mixes R&B, hip-hop and performing tunes. There are bursts of songs from Gilbert & Sullivan, Grandmaster Flash, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Jason Robert Brown, DMX and the Notorious BIG It riffs on Shakespeare and the Bible. It could only come from a mind as bright and hungry as Mirandas.

This version reminds us of this talent but also its absence: Broadway continued to be Broadway after Hamilton for the most part, often returning to dusty or safe shows. It turns out that Mirandas’ daring step was not the sharp end of the spear, it was just a glorious pick. Hamilton has raised the possibility of a bright future and, now five years after its debut, Broadway has clearly wasted its shot.

So, with cinemas inactive due to the pandemic, the arrival in accelerated streaming of cinematographic versions which was to arrive in cinemas in October 2021 is welcome. But a second societal spasm, the confrontation with racial injustice made Hamilton a problematic choice following the death of George Floyds.

The nation looks different from a few years ago, ready for another revolution, this time on the streets, not in the salons where it happened in the 1700s. We re-examine our dark history and to whom it is dear . The statues fall, old heroes are questioned and past indiscretions are brought to light.

Hamilton for all its progressiveness is not immune to this review. He looked at the past of the Americas and raised his own statues. But he bypassed the white supremacist origins of nations, despite the fact that three minority actors play white or current presidents, slave owners.

Thomas Jefferson is depicted as the only bad founding father who participated in slavery. Your debts are paid because you don’t pay for the work, Hamilton teases Jefferson in a rap battle. We know who really does the planting.

However, the ownership of slaves by George Washingtons is not mentioned at all and the role of Hamiltons as the owner of slaves has been cleared. Hamilton in 2020 crashes on Black Lives Matter and turns out to be less powerful, less revolutionary.

In the show, Mirandas line: Who lives, who dies, who tells your story? was a plea to put Hamilton back in the history books, to recover this lost founding father. Hamilton’s genius has not changed the way history remembers and changes.

But in 2020, the question of how we tell stories changed direction. Who tells our story? It would be white and the show’s objective could blur the bridge, but they are still elite white males. Hamilton once asked us to reconsider the birth of America, but it is hard not to think that it could soon face its own kind of calculation.

He did not do all the work.

Hamilton, a version of Disney Plus, is rated PG-13 for gun violence and adult themes. Duration: 161 minutes. Four stars out of four.

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