HAMILTON THE MUSICAL: What IS The Message, Exactly?

Written by Judy Rice on November 26, 2016

My daughter and I recently saw Hamilton in Chicago. We thoroughly enjoyed this very fun, highly inspirational, upbeat show. I have to admit, I don’t think I paid much attention in history class in high school. I didn’t really remember much about Alexander Hamilton except that he was a key player in the founding of our country. My curiosity was most definitely peaked after seeing the production. I started looking up and reading about the real Hamilton and some of the other main characters and wondered how much of the production was historically accurate and what parts were more embellished by the writer, Lin Manuel Miranda.

Of course, I knew the entire show was a “hip hop” version and quite honestly, I thought the idea was brilliant. What a fantastic opportunity to teach history in a very fun, modern and trendy way. Our youth and quite honestly, much of the general population are truly flocking to the theater to see the show. Tickets are not inexpensive and yet the show continues to sell out.

I have had a vested interested in musicals after my daughter became involved in them. Typically, when casting a show for live theater, talent and appearance are both taken into consideration. Actors understand that the more they “look the part and act the part,” the better chance of their being chosen for the role. As I watched this production with a “naked eye”, I can clearly see that this show was cast quite differently. Like most Americans, I knew enough about history to know that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton were actually white. This didn’t bother me, it just surprised me. I simply wondered what the writer was thinking?

The history lesson the production portrayed in dialogue, song and dance seemed fairly accurate, but the characters on the stage didn’t look at all like the historical figures the actors portrayed. I found out later that the casting call went out for “non-white” actors. That truly didn’t make sense to me, unless the writers and producers had another agenda. I truly would have loved to see this exact production acted out with characters that resembled their real-life counterparts. In my opinion, this would have been more unifying and honest than the version that was portrayed on stage. I think choosing the most talented actors that portrayed the parts with the most historical accuracy would have made the production even better. It’s simply being honest to real history and truth. Why not just portray the truth accurately?

When Brandon Victor Dixon made his “speech” at the end of the show to Mike Pence, the “disconnect” between the actors and the actual story they just portrayed clearly couldn’t have been more obvious. In Dixon’s mind, that stage represented “a diverse America” yet the casting call didn’t call for that. The call actually excluded “white people.” How is that diverse? He expressed concern that the people on that stage were concerned that their rights were not going to be protected by upcoming presidential administration, but we find out that very few of them even voted. How concerned can they actually be when they forego this privilege? He also mentioned that he was concerned that this administration won’t uphold their “inalienable rights.” I am wondering if he really understands what that means? Those rights are what drove the Revolutionary War. People were willing to die for them. Those are rights given to us by God.

I think Pence handled the situation well, even though I don’t think setting a precedent that actors can call out people in the audience from the stage is the direction we want to go. Dixon is paid to act out a part and do his job. His opinion is welcome in America, but that wasn’t the time and/or place. None-the-less, if he wants a conversation, I say we give it to him.

I have often argued about how disconnected America has become. In order to successfully fight anything, we must first know what we are fighting for. In my opinion, the spiritual foundation of America was highly “under-played” in Hamilton. The Father of our Country, George Washington and our other Founding Fathers were well aware that our rights come from God. Alexander Hamilton was George Washington’s right-hand man! His writings included the theme that Christianity and political freedom go hand in hand. Our nation is indeed a nation of immigrants that all shared the same philosophies of freedom. Should it really matter what color skin they had? They were fighting for all people. The Bible was their “handbook.” Whether they were real Christians or not is between them and God, but there is no denying that they were driven by Judeo-Christian principles.

I would like to see the entertainment industry go back to displaying those principles on television, on the big screen, on stage, and in the media. If we want to create unity, those principles will do just that, despite the skin color or ethnic origins of the person speaking, acting or writing, etc. What a wonderful opportunity to use this production and Dixon’s “outburst” as a sounding board for real discussions. Get the truth out there.

Image: By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47271664;

Share if you agree the musical “Hamilton” prompts a number of worthy questions.

Judy Rice is the proud mother of teenage triplets, Jillian, Spencer and Derek and wife to Gary, one of the most loving, hardworking, honorable men in the world. She is a Christian who is a huge fan of traditional marriage, freedom, and is pro- life to the core. She has a Masters in Counseling from DePaul University in Chicago and a Bachelors degree in Communications from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Before kids, she worked as a counselor, advisor and teacher at the university level. She clarified her world view in her thirties and believes her most valuable education continues to come from reading the Bible, reading in general, listening, paying attention and participating in meaningful communication wherever it occurs.