“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known”
I can understand why people might be feeling a little Hamilton-ed out with more than 12 months to go until it opens at the Victoria Palace and no let up in the hugely successful Broadway run, even as the original cast members are beginning to scatter. I even sometimes think I feel that way myself but the minute I pop the cast recording on to listen to a song or 3 or even the whole damn thing because I can’t resist, I am swept up once again in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s genius.
Part of this comes from the care and attention that was put into creating the Official Broadway Cast Recording, multiple recording sessions over several days were put in with The Roots on production duties, ensuring the layered complexity of every aspect of the score was preserved on record. And it is densely packed, it needs, nay demands, multiple listens to unpack not just the lyrical content but also the musicality, the richness of the orchestrations and how detailed they are.
And at a good 2 and a half hours, there’s a lot of it. These days I tend to skip to my favourite tracks – today they’re Renée Elise Goldsberry’s life-changingly good ‘Satisfied’ which I’ll happily argue is one of the finest moments ever in musical theatre in the way it shifts perspective to tell Angelica Schuyler’s version of events, and the family moment of ‘Take A Break’ as Philippa Soo’s Eliza, Anthony Ramos’ Philip and Angelica try to convince Miranda’s Hamilton to, well, take a break with some gorgeous harmonising and highly amusing beatboxing.
But ‘Wait For It’ is amazing, ‘Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story’ is almost unbearably moving, ‘Non-Stop’ at once conventional musical theatre and unconventionally brilliant…the list goes on. And why does it all work so well? If we knew the answer to that we wouldn’t have to sit through half the sub-standard musicals that we do. The alchemical magic in the mixture of contemporary music styles like rap and hip-hop with musical theatre tropes is key, so too is the dynamic range of the music and the emotion it holds within – you laugh, you cry, you cheer, you gasp along with every twist and turn, you can’t help but care so much and that I think is the key factor to Hamilton’s success.