Lin-Manuel Miranda and Phillipa Soo play the leading role in the original line-up of Hamilton.
This weekend, Disney Plus subscribers around the world will be staring at their screens, captivated by the lyrical and musical genius of.
The musicalHe is changing from the misunderstood Caribbean immigrant to the United States' first Treasury secretary. It celebrated its opening year with 16 record nominations for the Tony Award in 13 categories and won 11 – including the prestigious Best Musical Award.
As an amateur music theater actor, I can only talk about it for weeks. I know every single word of every single song. My annual Spotify wrap-ups have included Hamilton songs since the day the soundtrack hit the platform five years ago.
This is exciting. This is music theater history.
But there are many people who don't understand the importance of a show like Hamilton and make it onto such a widespread and affordable platform.
"Didn't they basically do the same with Les Misérables and Cats?"
"Sure, but it's not as big a deal as hitting The Mandalorian."
"It's just another musical, I don't understand why it's so hyped."
First of all, let us never see the film adaptations of Les Misérables andagain in the same breath. But more importantly, there is a crucial difference here that people outside the theater world may not understand until they actually see it themselves.
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Hamilton’s premiere on Disney Plus doesn’t naturally make it a film like the Les Mis adaptation. It is certainly not a TV show, although its duration and pause could make it feel like two episodes.
You see, even though it is filmed, it keeps its core as a theatrical production. You will see how microphones look out of wigs. You will see sweat. You will see meticulously designed set pieces that rotate and move in such a way that the effect is maximized for a full theater, not for your living room. You will see everything up close, better than in the front row.
And that's huge for a show like Hamilton.
Despite my admiration for everything that has to do with theater, I am aware that it has its shortcomings. The great? Accessibility. There is a reason why the stereotype of a theater snob exists.
A culture of exclusivity has surrounded the theater for a long time, especially when it comes to incomprehensible shows like Hamilton. Would you like to see such a show with the original cast? I hope you have a few thousand dollars left – and you live better in the continental US, otherwise you can triple that price with international flights and accommodations.
Sure, you could win the ticket lottery if you were lucky (although chances are slim at best), but for a show where the protagonist is "young, shabby, and hungry", the environment is certainly not suitable for this Customers.
At the start of a run, waiting lists can last weeks or even months before you can get affordable tickets (without being nosebleed). I've heard stories from people who, at the height of Hamilton's popularity, spent hours updating ticket counters on their computers just to get a seat in the back row.
Look at that:
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Unhappy or low-priced fans then turn to the Internet to receive poorly-recorded bootlegs of their favorite shows that are notoriously disguised as "slime tutorials" to circumvent restrictions that prohibit unlawful recording and republishing of a show – and that is a controversial debate in and of itself, because actors and viewers alike know that you won't get the show as intended.
If they miraculously find a usable bootleg, it's probably 10% Hamilton and 90% a shaky iPhone shot of someone's head in 144p.
Not really the same thing, is it?
At a time when we're all stuck and the theaters are closed, the production companies are forced to find new ways. Avenues like Disney Plus. And I cannot stress the value of this change enough.
Art should be accessible. Sure, it's not that hard to see Hamilton anymore, but what about the next big show? What about the next "Hit Us All" hit that lands on Broadway?
The performers preach that theater is for everyone, but if ticket prices are so high that they exclude a significant portion of the population, it simply isn't. A Disney Plus subscription? Infinitely accessible.
Hamilton's premiere on such an accessible platform offers potential for real change and improvement in the future. I know that nothing will ever replace the feeling of being in a real theater and sharing a space with strangers who experience the same extraordinary thrill.
But if this is the best and most comprehensive way to introduce more people to the theater, then I am all for it. It is not just another film musical that is added to the platform. It is a catalyst and a step forward to really make theater for everyone.