By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical Hamilton arrived on Disney+ today, ET Online reported. The hip-hop musical dramatizes the life of Alexander Hamilton and has been wildly successful. The play revolutionized Broadway.
According to ET Online, the coronavirus as well as the expense and scarcity of tickets to the Broadway musical Hamilton have made it difficult for all audiences to see nationwide. One solution to this problem is bringing the musical to streaming services—in this instance, Disney+.
“The smash Tony Award-winning musical by composer, playwright, and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda is making its way to Disney+ on July 3 in a production recorded at the Richard Rodgers Theatre with the original 2016 cast, which includes Miranda, as well as Leslie Odom Jr., Renée Elise Goldsberry, Daveed Diggs, and more,” the article said. “As Broadway tickets are expensive and […] can be exceptionally hard to come by, the ability to stream the hip-hop musical is exciting for fans who up until now have only been able to experience it via the official Hamilton soundtrack.”
This groundbreaking musical has brought theater into the 21st century for a number of reasons.
Part of Hamilton‘s popularity is that its music appeals to a modern audience.
“There has been a yawning gap in theatrical culture in that rap has become in many ways America’s music for people under about 50, and yet there’s barely been any kind of rap musical,” said Dr. John McWhorter, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.
“There’s been the occasional rap song in some musicals, as a kind of pastiche, but for a long time, it’s been clear that if there’s going to be a musical theater based on the popular music that people genuinely like and genuinely seek to hear in a long-term way, then there needed to be a rap musical. And that hadn’t happened for various reasons, but finally, with Hamilton, that’s there.”
Dr. McWhorter explained that now, for a generation of people who have accepted rap or hip-hop music as being a mainstream kind of music rather than an exotic exception, they could watch a Broadway musical without “adjusting to” the kind of music it utilized.
Not only does Hamilton serve up a contemporary musical genre to entertain its audience, but it also caters to America’s love of an underdog story. We enjoy rooting for “the little guy,” and in the case of Hamilton, we see a familiar example of this, even if it cheats history a bit.
“Hamilton is couched as the story of an immigrant rising,” Dr. McWhorter said. “So the idea is that somebody came from the Caribbean in very humble circumstances and they rise up to become one of the founders of a great nation—and there’s the line about ‘immigrants getting things done.’
“That’s something that not only immigrants and children of immigrants like to see; that’s something that not only Black Americans like to see as an oppressed group who think of America as something to fight their way through to rise up into, but we’re at a point in the culture where many whites are interested in seeing that immigrant story.”
Dr. McWhorter said that Hamilton speaks to our idea that for all the problems our nation may have, in our eyes, the American Dream is still possible.
The music itself and the ideas behind it have captivated the nation, and will do so for a wider audience on Disney+ starting today.
Dr. John McWhorter contributed to this article. Dr. McWhorter is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He previously was Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his BA from Rutgers University, his MA from New York University, and his PhD in Linguistics from Stanford University.