“Hamilton” Is An Expensive Disappointment
I couldn’t wait to say “that’s a rap” to my night at this hip-hop musical.
After 7 months of waiting, my night at the hit musical “Hamilton” had finally arrived — and just in the nick of time, it turned out, as this was creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s last week in the cast. While nothing could possibly live up to the hype this show has received, at the very least I expected an entertaining night of theater. As you can see here, my tickets weren’t exactly cheap.
The show began on an immediate sour note. I understand Miranda needed to introduce the main character right away, but was it really necessary to do it with this particular turn of phrase?
What followed was one “pizza party” guest after another being introduced. Some were period-appropriate (“I’m Ben Franklin and I love to dance / gonna boogaloo ’til I split my pants”) while others had no place in a 1776-set production (“My name’s Elvis Presley, they call me the king / all the girlies love it when I start to sing!”).
DJ’s have always been an important part of the hip-hop music that informs Hamilton’s score, but to me the play lost a lot of the historical “feel” by having one on stage the entire time, especially since the DJ was the Kid Rock-associated ‘Uncle Kracker.’
And while I appreciated the addition of comedy to a show about such a serious subject, I still felt too much valuable stage time was spent on Miranda’s arsenal of Family Guy impressions. Maybe throwing in an occasional “Stewie” as a reference would have been funny, but the show devoted nearly twenty minutes to a speech Hamilton begins at the Constitutional Convention by saying: “What if all the Family Guy characters were here? I wonder what they would say (switches to Peter Griffin voice) ‘Hey look Lois, it’s George Washington! Frickin’ sweet!’”
Finally, I felt the ending was a particularly lame attempt at a “twist.” Hamilton, disgraced, falls out of the public eye and is fatally shot by Aaron Burr in their legendary duel. But it is when Hamilton arrives at the hospital, post-duel, that the play truly lost me. The nurse looks at him and says, “Who is this man? He looks familiar.” “Check his ID,” says the doctor. She then pulls an ID card out of Hamilton’s pocket and delivers the final line of the play.
Overall, I give Hamilton: An American Musical * out of **** stars, and that one star is only there because I met Uncle Kracker outside the theater and he was actually really chill.
Tony Zaret is a theater critic who has now seen over 3 plays. He can be reached on twitter at @tonyzaret or via AIM at tonyzman666.