A few months ago I raved about the musical Hamilton, currently a huge hit on the world’s culture scene – bursting through the velvety walls of Broadway and into the mainstream as it scooped Grammys, Tonys, appeared on the BET Awards and outsold countless pop albums. Much of the original cast has left Broadway, and new productions are being mounted from Chicago to London.
As such, there are millions of digitally-engaged Hamilfans hanging on writer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s every tweet, posting devastatingly cool fan art, making hilarious memes and discussing the hip hop, Broadway and cultural references in the lyrics on Reddit every day. It was about time for a souvenir book. And boy, did Lin-Manuel and journalist Jeremy McCarter write a belter.
It’s so beautifully put together that I almost cried. Pages of the show’s sublime lyrics and stylised production and behind-the-scenes photographs are intersected with thoughtful essays by McCarter on the phenomenon that is Hamilton. I don’t mind admitting that I welled up every third chapter or so, as the delicate detail and personal background behind many of the show’s choices were revealed. Every time you think you’ve learned everything you could ever need to know about this show, something else fascinating crops up – one of the most fascinating insights was how this cast of super-talented non-A-listers shaped their characters, as Miranda frantically added in faster raps for motor-mouthed Daveed Diggs, or Destiny’s Child-style runs for the always-jamming Schuyler Sisters, or an element of silent ferociousness for Leslie Odom Jr’s Burr.
So much love has gone into this book, from the styling of chapters like an 18th-century tome to the heartfelt tributes to every single creative and cast member. But the best thing about it is how well-written it is; each chapter has a theme and a purpose, and moving conclusions sneak up on you faster than Hercules MULLIGAN and his furious rap verses.
There will possibly never be another theatrical revolution like this in my lifetime; it’s our generation’s RENT, or Oklahoma. I’m so privileged to have watched it unfold, and so glad I have this piece of the action to read back when it’s a classic.
Hamilton: The Revolution is £24.99 on Amazon.