Spectacularly unique and filled with passion, this filmed version of the hit Broadway musical is exquisite to watch – no matter how many times you have seen it.
Having originally set to be released in cinemas next year, thank goodness Disney decided to bring the release forward and onto its streaming platform to offer all those who love theatre and this musical to see it up close and personal.
Filmed with great sleekness by the show’s director Thomas Kail, whose use of the camera really lovingly captures the cleverness of Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography (look out for the routines of ‘Satisfied’ and opening number ‘Alexander Hamilton), the musical tells the story of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
Having won numerous awards, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical has proved to be the most immensely popular Broadway show in recent years and for good reason. Based on Ron Chernow’s biography, Miranda not only wrote the music and lyrics but also the book as well – creating a wonderfully sharp and perceptive musical, highlighting how Hamilton was able to use language and his voice to powerful effect. Which is why the fact the musical style which combines hip-hop, R&B and soul works so well – particularly on numbers such as ‘My Shot’ , ‘Satisfied’ and ‘The Room Where it Happens’, during which the style enhances the reactions and emotions of the characters.
For those who have seen it (and particularly the Broadway version), it is a chance to pick up on smaller details in the show that perhaps you aren’t likely to pick up on while watching it live. This includes the particular intricacies of the choreography or the expressions on the cast’s faces at particular moments that will enhance fans of the shows enjoyment of the musical and gives it something a little extra. The moment that stands out in this regard is the way in which ‘Burn’ has been filmed, that offers lovely close ups of Phillipa Soo as Eliza.
But also what is so impressive with the way in which this has been filmed is the way it also manages to capture the shows sheer energy, passion and even playfulness. It is a show that knows how to balance out the politics with something a bit more playful – with Jonathan Groff as King George being cheekily pompous and delightful, appearing at moments that help break the tension is just one example of this.
As someone who didn’t get to see the original cast on Broadway, this was an extra treat. There are so many high quality performances that really make an impact on the show. Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler is particularly impressive, fully embracing how her character sacrificed her own happiness for her sister – capturing her heartbreak but loyal character perfectly. Her rendition of ‘Satisfied’ is simply magnificent. Elsewhere, Phillipa Soo as Eliza is wonderfully delicate but heartfelt throughout her performance – oozing in warmth and charm, captured in her rendition of ‘Helpless’. Elsewhere, Christopher Jackson is suitably commanding as George Washington, Leslie Odom, Jr. is a charismatic Aaron Burr and Daveed Diggs is equally memorable as Thomas Jefferson thanks to his rendition of ‘What’d I Miss’.
As for the main man himself? Lin-Manuel Miranda, as you would expect, offers great depth and insight into Alexander Hamilton, capturing his passion as well as his flaws with precision.
Overall, capturing the spirit of an immensely popular show on film like this is immensely difficult – but on this occasion it does work extremely well. It manages to offer something new to fans but still makes it accessible to those who haven’t experienced it before. It is emotional to watch from start to finish and makes you long for the return of live theatre once more, particularly when the audience applaud at the end of the show.
By Emma Clarendon
Hamilton is available to stream through Disney + now.