Broadway's biggest hit in forever, the ticket that you cannot buy without paying 250% over face-value because the show is sold out until the end of next year, is the story of Alexander Hamilton - the guy whose picture is on your $10 bill.
There is no coincidence that this newsletter starts (and ends) with references to money because Mr. Hamilton is responsible in part for United States first monetary policy, for its currency and banking; for the U.S. Mint; for there being an office of Secretary of the Treasury.
More to the point, it might be worth whatever $$ you have to pay to see "Hamilton" at the Richard Rogers Theater, because the story, the music, the experience is what these "United" (quotes intentional) States of America were in the beginning. And are today. Or not.
"Hamilton," inspired by the book written by Ron Chernow about the statesman, is a theatrical revolution.
Certainly there are many revolutions taking place right now - in society, culture, the arts, technology and customs - but this amazing experience, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (who also plays the lead role and carries the evening), is particularly relevant.
Bertolt Brecht once asked, "With such immense changes taking place, how do we as artists reflect those in our work?" Miranda turns the story of the American Independence from England into a timely, prescient and powerful look into our history. The fact that Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington are played by Latin/Hispanic or African-American/black men should not come as a surprise. (Daveed Diggs as Jefferson is particularly memorable.)
The music is hip-hop, rap and R&B, which makes perfect sense because what Hamilton and the Founders used to convince, cajole and convert people was words. They gave rousing speeches, wrote lengthy essays and papers and books. They filibustered in public and in private. Miranda took those words and quotes and makes our history important and dramatic. Moreover, he makes it real. 240 years later the story rings as true as the latest YouTube video you just shared with your "friends."
The USA is always in a state of revolution. Civil Rights. Women's Rights (Phillipa Soo, an Asian, and Renee Elise Goldsberry, a black woman, star as sisters in the production, and they are profoundly talented and powerful in their performances). Stock Market booms. Stock Market crashes. Anarchy and insurgency, revolt and transformations. It's part of the fabric of our democracy.
Today there is a backlash against Washington, DC politics. Our ruling class has personal, financial and professional protection, while the people they "rule" don't have those protections. Thus we have presidential political campaigns that cannot be predicted. The people are enraged. There is a revolution against the elites.
That anger, directed at Congress and the White House is portrayed perfectly, not to mention hilariously, by King George III in "Hamilton." The actor, Jonathan Groff, is excellent as he sings the words of a befuddled king who cannot understand what his "subjects" are so upset about. It's eerily familiar and brilliantly communicated.
If you get the opportunity, see "Hamilton." It's that good.
Related: I am on the verge of crowdfunding my next project. I'm hoping you and many others will cough up a few Hamiltons, or Lincolns or Benjamin Franklins for a very big project I am far too excited about to deal with right now. Watch for my announcement!
Thanks for reading!