SAT., JANUARY 23rd – HAMILTON: An American Musical

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Hamilton AThis post is about the MWC’s Annual Family and Friends Matinee – which, yes, for the last five years has taken place in January.  -As it will this coming one, on SATURDAY, JANUARY 23rd, 2016.  At this time this event is sold out.  However, if you now find you would like to go with the group next January, pls. either sign-up for the MWC waitlist (by sending in an email with “Hamilton Waitlist” in the subject line) or simply buy tickets for yourself for that particular performance – and meet us afterward for our annual drinks party.  One way or another – you should see this !

hamilton DWhy-o-why is the theater world going ga-ga for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop, rap take on American Revolutionary era history, HAMILTON: An American Musical?  Mostly because it pretty much redefines the artform, combining contemporary music with a historic story which resonates in our current political era (uh, think about immigration).  For those of us who still think of our country’s revolutionary history as having been created by well-dressed, well-spoken white men with lofty aspirations, think again – the game-changing HAMILTON will disabuse you of those preconceptions.   The Founding Fathers are shown to be a scruffy, volatile group of revolutionaries, orphans and misfits who realize they are on the edge of a moment of history  grasping for great opportunity and entertaining even greater risks.  People who go see musicals with historic themes generally aren’t expecting hip-hop, but here’s a sample rap about Hamilton:

“…the ten-dollar Founding Father without a father / Got a lot farther by working a lot harder / By being a lot smarter / By being a self-starter.”

Hamilton SilhouetteThe Pulitzer, Grammy and multi-Tony Award winning Miranda, 35, took the theater world by storm with his 2008 production of IN THE HEIGHTS, focusing on the largely Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights – where he still lives.  But after picking up the 2004 Ron Chernow biography of Hamilton for a big-book vacation read, Miranda became entranced by the brash and brilliant head writer of the Federalist Papers who came to America from the West Indies as a bastard orphan.  Miranda was struck, too, that this particular historic biography was not the dry stuff usually associated with the genre.  Hamilton certainly obliged by being the central figure in a sex scandal when he was blackmailed by his mistress’s husband.  His fateful, mortal duel with Aaron Burr (which took place right across the river) is, sadly, what he is most commonly remembered for.  Interestingly, Miranda takes this incident too, and uses the multi-layered rap refrain to introduce Hamilton:

“Hey, yo, I’m just like my country / I’m young, scrappy and hungry / And I’m not throwing away my shot.”


In this one quick refrain he shows Hamilton’s ambition and drive but also nods to the future when, of course, many historians believe that Hamilton did, indeed, throw away his shot when aiming at Burr – but was felled by Burr’s bullet.   This gives a hint at what lyricist, composer, writer and star Miranda is offering up in this ground-breaking work – a compressed, multi-dimensional, contemporary approach to a historic character and period which allows us all to understand it in a brand new light.

Burr Hamilton Duel engraving

New York is Hamilton-country and for those of you interested in exploring his tracks, there is the newly restored Hamilton Grange on West 141st Street between Convent and St. Nicholas Avenues, right at the foot of Hamilton Terrace in St. Nicholas Park.  There is also his grave, in the Trinity Churchyard at the head of Wall Street – it’s the large, triangular-shaped one.  And, of course, you can go to the Burr-Hamltion dueling grounds on the cliffs in Weehawken, overlooking the Manhattan skyline. 

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