Katie Ribbens – Staff Writer
The musical Hamilton proves that history can be put into a performance of singing and dancing. The groundbreaking musical will finally be making a tour through the Midwest and Hamilton will be showing in Omaha from September 10 to September 29.
True to its namesake, Hamilton opens with following young orphan, Alexander Hamilton, on his journey to America at the start of the Revolutionary War. The audience soon meets the infamous Aaron Burr and the other Sons of Liberty: John Laurens, Marquis de Lafayette, and Hercules Mulligan. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, carefully weaves internal conflict and romance that Hamilton faces as he discovers the importance of family in the midst of war.
The music beckons the audience across uncharted territory as the founding fathers start building the United States from the ground up. Kara Jasper, a freshman at Dordt, says that before Hamilton, she knew he was “an important figure” and “kind of [knew] what his time period was” but now has a much better idea of his role in founding America.
Arguably, Elizabeth “Eliza” Schuyler, Hamilton’s wife, plays an even greater role in history. Eliza was a prominent member of the Dutch Reformed Church and, in the musical, she is a symbol of redemption. With his marital infidelity and political aggression, Hamilton often needs that redemption. In the song “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Eliza’s words apply to a bigger picture: “Grace too powerful to name…forgiveness, can you imagine?”
While Hamilton boasts a large historical perspective, the show also takes charge of the theatrical arts. Lin-Manuel Miranda fills the role of the character he wrote and lives the music he created—music that crosses several genres—from rap to opera. There is certainly a satirical feel to much of the musical, especially in the songs depicting the villain, King George III.
One thing that especially sets Hamilton apart from other musicals is the fact that there are no speaking lines in the play; the entirety of the story is conveyed through song. “Laurens’ Interlude,” a secret song that can only be seen in the live performance, provides further incentive to watch the show live.
Unsurprisingly, songs are easier to memorize than textbook facts.
“We relate to stories way better than we relate to ‘this fact’ and ‘this fact’” Jasper says. “When we see human suffering, I feel like it’s way more relatable than just reading about it.” Hamilton ensures that history and politics teachers alike will be pleased as their students can name random facts. How else would they know that Hamilton wrote 51 of the Federalist Papers? It is also incredibly handy—especially during quizzes—that almost all of the key battles of the Revolutionary War are embedded in song lyrics. There’s even something here for the English professors: Lin-Manuel Miranda uses direct quotes from Macbeth in his song, “Take A Break.”
Hamilton unites a multitude of themes into one complex story. Many ambitious students will identify with young college student Hamilton as he seeks to “rise up” (“My Shot”) from amongst the ranks. Parents will grieve with those onstage as they lose innocent children in the horrors of battle.
The story of brokenness and redemption will no doubt pull the heartstrings of all the audience. Jasper recommends Hamilton to “anyone who likes music, and who likes stories. It’s an experience…just watching theatre is amazing.” The drive to Omaha is the perfect length to play Hamilton in its entirety before appreciating the performing genius in front of you. Even though the tickets are expensive, Jasper asserts that “these actors work so incredibly hard at what they do. And they train so much, and they have to pay for the facility. So, I guess it kind of makes sense.” Students now have no excuse to be bored on the weekends, nor do they have due cause to complain of boredom. Hamilton is coming to town, and it is a must-see.