I asked the critics at large Wesley Morris and A. Scott, the co-chief theater critic Jesse Green, the chief pop music critic Jon Pareles and the arts critic fellow Maya Phillips to discuss the show in changing contexts: onscreen not onstage, and as protests over racism and police reform are forcing the country to face up to its history. Here are excerpts from their round table.
Hamilton wasn’t an abolitionist? I’m confused.
I am loath to tell people to mortgage their houses and lease their children to acquire tickets to a hit Broadway show. Miranda, might just about be worth it — at least to anyone who wants proof that the American musical is not only surviving but also evolving in ways that should allow it to thrive and transmogrify in years to come. So are Aaron Burr and the Marquis de Lafayette. They wear the clothes by Paul Tazewell you might expect them to wear in a traditional costume drama, and the big stage they inhabit has been done up by David Korins to suggest a period-appropriate tavern, where incendiary youth might gather to drink, brawl and plot revolution.
The 15 or 20 minutes before the performance ticked by the same way they do on nights when Rome Neal presides over jazz at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. But this time Mr. Neal was directing a reading of a play. So this was different from the jazz nights.
And even theater reactionaries seem destined to be swept up in its doubt-defying ardor. Miranda in the title role, persuasively transfers a thoroughly archived past into an unconditional present tense. Written and composed by Mr. Miranda, this work may reap the pattern-bestowing benefits of two centuries of hindsight. Yet it exudes the dizzying urgency of being caught up in momentous events as they occur. During the first half of the 20th century, the American songbook was often dictated by Broadway tunesmiths. But by the late s, songs from musicals had become a quaint breed apart from the songs that America danced to and sang in the shower. And though many major talents have tried to close that gap including Mr. And its numbers come across as natural and inevitable expressions of people living in lateth-century America. Like the early gangsta rap stars, the founding fathers forge rhyme, reason and a sovereign identity out of tumultuous lives.