Years after becoming a phenomenon, ‘Hamilton’ debuts on Disney+ with a live stage production recording that, while not perfectly adapted to the small screen, proves why it was such a groundbreaking sensation in the first place.
Based on the book ‘Alexander Hamilton’ by Ron Chernow, it tells the story of Founding Father Hamilton and his life as an immigrant.
After a stunning debut on the stage and more than a slew of nominations and wins, the acclaimed musical conceived in large part by the central star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, finally finds its way to the comfort of your home (and without the need to spend thousandths of dollars on seeing it). I was skeptical of the effectivity it would have playing on Disney+ compared to a live performance, and it’s fair to say that even watching it that skepticism never went away. Director Thomas Kail does a pretty good job conveying what the experience must have been like on the theater; however, I do feel strongly that it never quite reaches the potential emotional highs the original format probably provoked that Disney thinks it does. So, yes, when reviewing this version of ‘Hamilton,’ I will make a unique exception and clarify that the lacking star in my consensus is based solely on how the musical was, sometimes awkwardly, translated to the small screen.
However, even saying all of this, I have to confess that finally watching ‘Hamilton,’ whatever the format may be, is something that should be seen by everyone. It’s a production that, behind its incredible musical numbers and performances, has an essential and fascinating story that must be required viewing for everyone even slightly interested in what the historical figure was all about.
Miranda’s idea to portray the people in the musical with a cast representing today’s immigrants has become such a staple that no one talks about it anymore. Still, it has to be said that watching it for the first time brings a level of complexity and appreciation to the story. Speaking of the cast, it’s hard even to point out one cast member that might not be as great as others, but there are some highlights, Daveed Diggs being a prime example of one. His portrayal of two historical figures dazzles and takes all the oxygen when he appears. He makes for a welcome dose of excitement every time he shows up. Jonathan Groff is also excellent as King George. Ironically enough, Miranda is probably the weakest of the cast. Yet, he still manages to leave an impression by being the brains of the majestic production, which might be enough for some. For me, it was.
In the end, ‘Hamilton’ might not be for everyone and might prove to be a slightly uncomfortable viewing experience on television. Still, for those somewhat curious or interested, it should be immediately appreciated for its incredible production values and now iconic musical numbers that will surely leave you wanting more in the end.