hamilton

What Is Hamilton’s Legacy for Broadway Musicals?

“Hamilton” has gone from Broadway musical to total phenomenon. The story of a scrappy “son of a whore and a scotsman” who helps mold the beginnings of the United States — only to fall to his career rival in a duel — has taken America by storm. The musical has gained plenty of famous fans, including President Barack Obama, who joked that the musical was the only thing that he agreed with Dick Cheney about. Central to the musical’s success are its diverse cast and the way it engages with hip-hop. These unique facets will be the foundation of its legacy.

HAMILTON: THE NUMBERS

What a success it’s been: Hamilton has been sold out from its opening performance at the Off-Broadway Public Theater. By the time the show opened on Broadway, it had already taken in $30 million in its advance ticket sales. The peak of its historical success was in late November 2016, when it grossed 3.3 million for 8 performances for the highest grossing week in Broadway history. As far as sales of the original recording are concerned, the Original Broadway Recording was one of only three cast recordings to move into the top 10 of the Billboard 200.

HIP-HOP

One of the big factors in Hamilton’s success lies in its natural conversation with contemporary culture through hip hop. Before “Hamilton” was a phenomenon, it was a workshop performance called The Hamilton Mixtape, hearkening to how rappers without deals would debut their music on independently released recordings hoping to strike up a buzz. One of the first people to fully buy into “Hamilton” was Daveed Diggs, the rapper for experimental rap group Clipping, who played both Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis Lafayette.

After the show became a phenomenon, a mixtape helmed by Questlove of The Roots and Lin-Manuel Miranda featured plenty of rap luminaries, including Busta Rhymes and Nas. The musical’s reverence for hip-hop is totally sincere, and as hip-hop becomes america’s most appreciated and popular music form, it follows that its best practitioners would respond to a musical that is a love letter to the very genre they pioneered. Broadway musicals often respond to popular music, but rarely respond like this, and it’s shown to be a winning formula.

DIVERSITY

It’s easy to see why “Hamilton” inspired Busta Rhymes to reach out to Lin-Manuel Miranda after he saw the musical: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s project very consciously features a cast made up of people of color and women, reflecting the changing makeup of the United States, with the only white actor in the original cast playing King George III, the King that inspired the American Revolution. As the play asserts, “Immigrants/we get the job done,” and that’s inspiring to a wealth of people across the world.

CONCLUSION

“Hamilton’s” legacy will certainly be represented by its bold embrace of hip hop, the diversity of its cast which is itself an unprecedented embrace of the story of the founding fathers by people of color, and perhaps most importantly the depiction of immigrants as the backbone of the American success story. If more musicals follow “Hamilton’s” example, we’ll continue to see fruitful collaborations of socially aware concepts, inclusive casting, and the exciting currency of popular music.

The Best “Hamilton” Quotes

Three leading actors from Broadway musical Hamilton’s original cast officially departed the show. Hamilton started making headlines in 2015 as it became one of the most sensationalized and beloved modern musicals to date. Now, an international following full of avid fans and musical theatre lovers has its eyes on the cast members taking over the vacant roles. And the verdict? Praise and approval on all counts. Some people even say that the new cast is better than the original.

New York Film Academy students know that in any well-written musical, song numbers serve as structural elements; they further the plot, acquaint the audience with character dynamics, and enhance the show’s innate themes. As each musical number has great value, it is vital that performers sing every lyric with a clarity and attention to expression that properly represents the meaning behind it.

This undoubtedly applies to the show at hand. Hamilton is acclaimed for its writing, and its musical numbers have managed, not only to benefit the structure of the show, but to move and inspire a vast audience. In honor of Hamilton’s explosive success, its meaning to New York City and to our students, here are 10 of the most insightful quotes, ripped from the soundtrack, ordered chronologically.

  1. “If you stand for nothing Burr what’ll you fall for?” – Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Sir
  1. “I’m past patiently waitin’ I’m passionately smashin’ every expectation. Every action’s an act of creation!” —Hamilton, My Shot
  1. “’We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’

And when I meet Thomas Jefferson … I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!” – Eliza/Angelica/Peggy, The Schuyler Sisters

  1. “Why do write like you’re running out of time? Write every day like you’re running out of time? Every day you fight like you’re running out of time.” – Burr, Non-Stop
  1. “ ‘Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.’ ” – Washington, One Last Time
  1. “I’m only nineteen but my mind is older. Gotta be my own man, like my father, but bolder. I shoulder his legacy with pride. I used to hear him say that someday I would – blow us all away.” – Philip Hamilton (and Ensemble), Blow Us All Away
  1. “We push away what we can never understand. We push away the unimaginable” – Angelica Schuyler, It’s Quiet Uptown

 

  1. “I don’t pretend to know the challenges we’re facing. I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost and you need time. But I’m not afraid, I know who I married. Just let me stay here by your side. That would be enough.” – Alexander Hamilton, It’s Quiet Uptown
  1. “Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” – Alexander Hamilton, The World Was Wide Enough
  1. “America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me. You let me make a difference. A place where even orphan immigrants can leave their fingerprints and rise up.” – Hamilton, The World Was Wide Enough