By now, everyone has heard about the incredible experience of witnessing Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony-dominating musical that has become more famous than the Founding Fathers themselves. Even if you didn't have the chance to see the Broadway show or the traveling tour in person, you've probably listened to the soundtrack. Hamilton has reached a height of popularity that no other live show could ever dream of, which is why it's the only musical in recent memory to have its original cast filmed on Broadway edited into a theatrically-planned feature film. The "movie" version of Hamilton is coming to Disney+ on July 3rd, and it's safe to say that all of the show's wonder, magic, and might are brought to the screen with this phenomenal edit.
It doesn't make sense to write a review for the content of Hamilton, because the show has existed for the last half-decade and is already universally recognized as one of the best musicals to ever hit Broadway stages. That remains true. Hamilton is a near-perfect show in every sense of the word. The lyrics are flawless, the performances are timeless, and the choreography somehow finds a way to steal the show. I could spend thousands of words breaking down what makes Hamilton so incredible but that wouldn't do any good. We all agree on its quality. What I will focus on, however, is how well director Thomas Kail brings that quality to Disney+.
Unlike other live shows that have been released in theaters or on home video, Hamilton wasn't simply recorded from a couple of cameras out in the audience. It's not static in any way. The cameras work to capture the broad spectrum of the entire stage, while also pulling in for the show's more intimate moments. Kail and his team actually manage to do something different with the show than simply film it as is.
That may create some worry amongst fans of Hamilton, especially those who have seen it live. As I mentioned already, the choreography is one of the unsung MVPs of Hamilton, rising up to steal attention in the midst of stellar lyricism and dynamic performances. There are no stagehands in this show — the ensemble dances around and changes the set furniture as a part of the show itself. It's flawlessly designed and meticulously choreographed, and it seems like some of that could get lost in translation in a version of the show that's filmed up close and personal. Fortunately, that's not remotely the case.
There isn't one ounce of Hamilton that doesn't make the transition to the screen. It's all there, and it's hard to describe just how special it is to see the original cast bring it to life. There's nothing quite like watching Daveed Diggs strutting around the stage and taunting the audience, or Jonathan Groff spewing spit from his mouth while chastising the colonies, or Phillipa Soo belting out "Helpless" like no other person in the world would ever sing a song again. Hamilton is special on an entirely separate level. It's impressive just how well that concept transfers to the screen with this film.
Nothing can replace the experience of live theater, no matter how well it's filmed or edited. Hamilton doesn't try to replace the live theater experience. But it does offer an opportunity like no other in history, bringing the show that was impossible to get tickets to right to your living room. Somehow, some way, Hamilton doesn't lose any of its magic in the transition.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Hamilton will begin streaming on Disney+ on July 3rd. If you haven't signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.
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