Best for: Those who have been sucked into the Hamilton zeitgeist; those who are interested in learning more about creative genius.
In a nutshell: Annotated lyrics to Hamilton interspersed with stories from the development of the show and spotlights on original cast members.
Line that sticks with me: “I think it’s unfair to ask actors to go onstage and expose themselves with anything less that what he calls ‘ultimate support.’”
Why I chose it: Because it’s Hamilton.
Review: I enjoy musical theater. I’m not a fanatic, but I have been known to sing along to “On My Own” from Les Miserables in my car more times than I can count. I put the Thoroughly Modern Millie soundtrack on in the background when I’m working. And I own the original cast recording of Hamilton on vinyl (along with Patty Lupone’s Evita).
I came to the Hamilton phenomenon a little later than most, but before some others. I’ve still not seen it, but I have tickets for the tour when it arrives in Seattle in February 2018 (on Valentine’s Day, actually). I ran around giddy when the Hamilton Mixtape was released at 9PM instead of midnight (yay west coast!), and of course I watched the PBS special.
This book was a delight to read. I started it on Saturday afternoon and finished it up after lunch on Sunday. I didn’t want to put it down. The notations on the lyrics provide lovely insight into the choices an artist makes, but the real story lies with the chapters that follow the development of the show, from a concept album through the full-blown Broadway blockbuster it is today. The stories about the original stars provide some insight into people who all of a sudden are household names in a way that many stage actors never are.
But what I think I found most interesting were the stories about the nitty gritty – the costume design, the stage production, the choreography. My husband has maybe listened to the soundtrack once, but even he didn’t mind when I kept interrupting him with a new amazing nugget I’d learned about the behind-the-scenes world. And the section about “It’s Quiet Uptown” – devastating.
I can’t imagine that anyone who is interested in the musical hasn’t at least added it to their to be read pile, but if there are any holdouts, there’s no need. Check it out.