Review: The film version of the Broadway hit is not exactly like going to the theater, but it is a dramatic thriller nonetheless.
A much-awaited Disney Plus arrival, in Lynn-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, Broadway hit you’ve been watching for years, but can’t find tickets for, lands streaming service July 3.
Disney Plus: Watching the story of Alexander Hamilton, the founding father from home, does not feel like watching the drama live with the audience. It cannot completely replicate the magic of a live performance or the excitement of reacting in real time with other audiences in a packed house.
But you can still enjoy it a lot. This filmed version of Hamilton was captured at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Broadway in June 2016 with the original cast. Stage director Thomas Kael draws double duty as the film’s director.
Cal is sure to fulfill Miranda’s promise to get you the “best seat in the house”. The play is shot from different angles in the audience. But it also uses repeated close-ups, offering bird’s-eye views of the entire stage and occasionally frames the scene from backstage. The first time King George (Jonathan Groff) appears on stage, the camera follows him from behind, offering a backstage scene that a regular audience member would never see. You can also take Philip Soo’s (Eliza Hamilton) tear in the face after a devastating incident.
This filmed version of Hamilton demolishes the viewer’s experience, but it is also difficult to forget that what is captured here was a play and not a film. Lighting, costumes, hairstyles and makeup are designed for a theater. The close-up saw the viewer hiding the microphone on Miranda’s hair, but also her sweat. A regular theater person would not have seen Groff spitting from such a short distance while singing “You’ll be back”. And a blue glow illuminates the actors’ faces due to the spotlights illuminating the game. Not all of the theater’s welcome artifacts found its medium on a TV screen.
What I am trying to say is not the equivalent of Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables. Luckily it is not even his cat.
Once you are ready for the idea of this hybrid between a play and a TV movie, you can resume Hamilton. And glad I did.
Back in January, I saw a live version of the show in San Francisco with a completely different cast. I loved it. This second view of Hamilton allowed me to abandon the experience and appreciate it more. It was the first time I saw him to enjoy the catch and sharpness of the show’s songs.
Due to the coronavirus epidemic, recorded theater performances are the only way to enjoy this art form. I still love the thrill of watching a play live, but I can meanwhile fare like Hamilton on Disney Plus.
Hamilton is a United States origin story told with a diverse cast of Black, Asian and Brown actors. There is an outcry for immigrants who play a role in establishing this country. “Immigrant, we’re done,” Marquis de Lafayette (Daveed Diggs) famously tells Hamilton in a hilarious scene that this American immigrant was unnecessarily the first time I saw Hamilton. There are references to the divide between North and South and the need to end slavery. There are political plans, family dramas and romantic plots. The best thing is that the show considers writing as a way of life. You know, like the whole writing, he does Hamilton.
The show, which runs two hours and 40 minutes with a one-minute intermission, is one of those musical experiences that benefit from the second and third scenes. On this occasion, I prioritized aspects of the Disney Plus Hamilton experience – it’s a lot cheaper than theater tickets for a beginner. But I also enjoyed watching that I could ask my husband questions of history (he has seen HBO’s miniseries John Adams at least twice). I caught parts of the plot that had survived me for the first time. I reunited myself with the history of American Presidents George Washington, Adams and Thomas Jefferson. I need to be convinced of the value of sound advice like “talk less, smile more”. And I listened to the delightful soundtrack again the way it was meant to be heard: with images, choreography, and cast.
When it ended, Hamilton’s infectious hip hop and rap-infuse songs were stuck in my mind again and I’d probably keep humming them for days. The first time I saw the show, I was caught on a non-stop loop of “The Room Where It Happens”. Now I am going through the “my shot” phase.