Hamilton: The Revolution

Monday, October 10, 2016


Hamilton: The Revolution
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter, 2016

Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a play (Yes, I'm cheating a little.)

Premise: The complete annotated libretto of the smash musical Hamilton, along with short articles about the writing, production, and cast.

I loved the cast album for Hamilton, but I wasn’t planning on reading this book anytime soon until it occurred to me that I could use it for the challenge. It does contain all the words spoken on stage, so I think it counts as a play.

First: the style of the book is lovely. It’s full of photos, big color production shots and candid dressing room black and white snaps. The design of the book itself evokes the duality in the show. The articles - about hip-hop, about the writing of the show, about President Obama’s visit - are each introduced with a header in the style of a pamphlet or a newspaper from the 1780s.

The book contains both photos of composer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda’s working notes and photos of letters and documents written by Alexander Hamilton. History is present in more than one way.

The content is equally amazing to go through. Each article is a perfect little story about a particular actor or a particular moment, and together they describe the process of bringing this project from idea to the first few partial trial performances, to the Off-Broadway run at the Public, to the Broadway run.

Each song is peppered with Miranda’s annotations about lines that were cut or rewritten. Sometimes he explains why this or that choice was made in adapting the historical facts. Sometimes he just shares a personal experience from performing the song.

The book made me cry the same way the music does, but it also gave me a clearer understanding of both the power of the show and the reality of the history it’s based on.

(Also, I learned that the associate lighting designer was someone I’ve worked with. Cool.)

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

1 comment:

Tony Laplume said...

My niece is obsessed with Hamilton. Thanks to a visit this summer, I got to have a look at the book.

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