Friday, July 03, 2020

Hamilton on Disney+

Is this the right time to show Hamilton on the new streaming service, Disney+? Months ago, maybe even weeks ago it would have been the perfect addition to a Fourth of July weekend. But after the George Floyd murder and the countless demonstrations that the country has endured, is a musical about a founding father whose views on slavery were, at best, troublesome the politically correct entertainment that Disney was hoping for?

On the one hand, it is glorious that the show was captured live on the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre before the original cast disbanded. Generations to come will have a chance to debate this hip-hop recreation of Alexander Hamilton's life as they watch a pristine 4K capture, showing up close the performances of the show's composer lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, but of the many actors who started out as virtual unknown and became stars during the initial run of the play: Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, Daveed Diggs as the Marquis de Lafayette, and Phillipa Soo who plays Eliza Schuyler.

After a statue of George Washington was pulled down in Portland, Oregon by angry protesters, having the first president of the United States dramatized and fictionalized in the musical will not please everybody. Of course, the role is played by Christopher Jackson, an actor who considers himself African-American. Although I'm sure he is proud of his work, and his association with Miranda (they go way back to Miranda's first show In the Heights), I wonder what his feelings are about playing a slave owner in this new normal society?

The racial terrain of the United States is more troubled than ever. Trump will be at the Mount Rushmore monument for a Fourth of July fireworks show this weekend. Will the monument be the cause of controversy as the president of the United States stands under the visage of those former presidents whose statues have come down recently?

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