Yeah, yeah, I know… this is supposed to be a Shakespeare blog. And no, I’m not going to go deep-end and say Lin-Manuel Miranda is the new Shakespeare, as some are wont to do (let’s wait a decade or three and see what the complete body of work looks like, ok?). But I am going to say a few words about Hamilton, which I caught on Saturday with the family…

As a piece of writing, it’s brilliant, and as a production, this is awesome. Yes, it’s a touring company, and no, none of the original Broadway cast are filling their major roles, but damn, it’s good.

Stagecraft, awesome.
Acting, top-notch.
Singing, great.
Rapping…very good. The only issues I have are with a sometimes muddy sound-mix so that some of the quicker paced pieces get lost in a torrent of sound, and one performance which–because of an imposed accent–is not as well enunciated.

But I totally recommend it.

I knew there was a Shakespeare reference coming–Macbeth, in specific–but I had forgotten in what song it’d come. So when it did come, it felt like a bolt of lightning. Near the start of the second act number “Take a Break,” as he pens a letter to sis sister-in-law, Hamilton sings,

My dearest Angelica,
“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day.”
I trust you’ll understand the reference to another Scottish tragedy
Without my having to name the play.
They think me Macbeth, ambition is my folly.
I’m a polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive pain.
Madison is Banquo, Jefferson’s Macduff
And Birnam Wood is Congress on its way to Dunsinane.

Good stuff, no?

As a part of the companion book to the musical, Miranda remembers of writing this sequence:

This used to be a really obscure Macbeth quote: “They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly, but bear-like, I must fight the course.” (It’s from a really short scene in Act Five where Macbeth kills Young Seward.) Then Oskar Eustis said, “Lin, I run the Shakespeare Festival, and even I don’t get this reference.” He was correct. I was being willfully esoteric. So I went with one of the greatest hits. But I still like my Act Five reference better.

What I love about this is the process. Writing something, having to kill it for legitimate reasons, but still missing it (and wanting to share it).

Yeah. I get it.


One Reply to “Hamilton”

  1. So cool, right? So many references- actually there is a “The Last Five Years” reference as well! So beautiful and dense.

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