Why Hamilton is Not the Revolution You Think it is

Since opening on Broadway earlier this year, Lin-Manuel Miranda has received seemingly unlimited praise for his hip-hop infused mega-musical Hamilton, which tells the story of the eponymous American founding father. More specifically, from The New York Times to the oval office, many have lauded the piece for its apparently progressive positions: some have commented on Hamilton’s feminist interventions, while others have raved about the racial diversity of its cast. Even a critic at the conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal called Hamilton revolutionary. Why?

In another HowlRound piece, Jonathan Mandell identified the musical’s groundbreaking character through its difference: different history, different casting, and a different American musical in general. But, politically speaking, how different is Hamilton really? More to the point, what is the function of difference within Hamilton? Is Hamilton as revolutionary as so many seem to suggest it is? I don’t think so for a number of reasons.

Hamilton’s (More Than Questionable) Feminism
I am startled when I come across critics who speak in unqualified terms of Hamilton’s feminist merits. The female characters simply do not get enough stage time and, when they do appear onstage, their desires, fears, hopes, plans, and narratives exist only in relation to Alexander, the man at the center of Miranda’s musical. I’m not even sure Hamilton passes the Bechdel test, the bare minimum for feminine representation in popular culture. It’s arguable. (To pass, two women need to speak to each other about something other than a man).

two people looking at each other
Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Eliza Schuyler (Philippa Soo) are wed during the song “Helpless.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Even the show’s most overtly feminist interventions fall short of satisfying. By way of example, consider Angelica Schuyler’s crowd-pleasing revisionary recitation of the Declaration of Independence in the song, “The Schuyler Sisters”:

We hold these truths to be self-evident
that all men are created equal.
But when I meet Thomas Jefferson,
I’m’a compel him to include women in the sequel!

Unfortunately, these lyrics are then followed by: “Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now” after the song’s melody returns us to Jefferson’s famous words. Though one could argue that this line exhibits the sisters’ excitement to be living in revolutionary times, such a lyrical celebration merely and tellingly displaces a reiteration of the show’s most overt feminist critique of that same revolution. Namely, the beneficiaries of the revolution, and thus equality in the new nation, were always explicitly stated: white landed men.

One could rationalize Miranda’s gender related creative choices with ye olde historical accuracy argument: “Well, this is just how things were back then! Can’t argue with history!” But it’s hard to accept such an explanation when black and brown men populate the stage, a historically inaccurate depiction of our founding fathers. Given all of the cross-racial casting, why was gender-bent casting beyond the musical’s imagination? Though Miranda does offer an admirable amplification of Eliza Schuyler’s historical contributions, this move is both too little and too late for this male-dominated musical. Where were the duets between women about women? Why choose to tell this story?

The Problem of the Bootstraps Immigration Narrative
One gets the sense that Miranda saw a prime opportunity to tell the tale of “another immigrant coming up from the bottom,” a story that epitomizes the American dream. This is the narrative we get in the show’s opening moments:

The ten-dollar founding father
Without a father
Got a lot farther
By working a lot harder
By being a lot smarter
By being a self-starter
By fourteen, they placed him
in charge of a trading charter.

This is a bootstraps immigration narrative. The message? Work exceptionally hard and you too can “rise up” up and out of the struggles of your station. Indeed, Hamilton seems to want to present an exceptionally successful immigrant (Alexander Hamilton) as a model of historical precedent and possibility for contemporary immigration discourse in the United States. The problem? The assertions here, that Hamilton worked harder and was smarter, true or not, imply that other immigrants who have not experienced success in their new nation are somehow at fault. They either do not work hard enough or, simply, are not smart enough. Such logic neglects and obscures the material obstacles and violences (structural racism, predatory capitalism, long-burned bridges to citizenship) imposed on racialized immigrants within the United States in order to celebrate the (false) promise of the American dream and the nation-state. This is the familiar and fallacious narrative that founds the logic of mainstream, immigration-unfriendly politicians on the right (Trump’s wall) and on the left (Obama’s exceptional DREAMers) in the contemporary moment. Given this, one wonders whether Miranda miscalculated the political implications of Alexander Hamilton’s narrative when he chose this story to tell. After all, the musical’s ability to uphold Hamilton as a good American immigrant is premised on its neglect of Hamilton’s own support for the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 which augmented the new nation’s ability to surveil and deport its residents while making it more difficult to become a naturalized citizen and to vote.

It’s puzzling to say the least, that Miranda would propagate this typical bootstraps narrative after producing such a triumphant, complicated portrait of diasporic life with In The Heights. In The Heights depicts first and second generation Americans of Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Latin American descent trying to survive and thrive in contemporary Manhattan. The characters each have different relationships to the English language, to money, to education, to opportunity, and to the United States. Contra Hamilton, In The Heights presents a complex tapestry of minoritized experiences. While Hamilton celebrates settler-colonists as patriots for stabilizing stolen land into a new nation, In The Heights is a critique of the violence of gentrification—an ongoing urban process of displacing black and brown people from their homes, colonization by another name.

But if I’m too hard on Hamilton it’s for two reasons: 1) a polemic is called for, critical engagement with the show’s politics has been sparse at best, and 2) Lin-Manuel Miranda is the best chance we’ve got in the musical theatre.

The Misplaced Revolution of Hamilton’s Racial Diversity
As I write, the Black Lives Matter movement continues to “rise up” against the essential anti-blackness of the United States. Progressive audiences seem to want to read Hamilton, complete with its multiracial ensemble, as a production that is politically copacetic with this contemporary racial revolution. However, in Hamilton, the fact that the white men that founded the United States—colonizers all, slaveholders some—are played by men of color actually obfuscates histories of racialized violence in the United States. Case in point: during “Cabinet Battle #1,” when the talented Daveed Diggs argues as Thomas Jefferson for the security of the South’s slave-holding economy, the actor’s blackness visually distances his performance of racism from Jefferson’s whiteness, enabling a (largely white) audience to forget the degree to which they are implicated in the violent, anti-black histories of the United States.

actors performing
Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton during the song “Cabinet Battle #1.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Remember who actually gets to witness Hamilton in the flesh. The exorbitantly high ticket prices coupled with the perpetually sold-out status of the production prohibit most working class people of color from attending the show. Given that the production’s audience, then, is overwhelmingly white and upper-middle-class, one wonders about the reception of the show’s racial performance. How many one-percenters walk away from Hamilton thinking that they are on the right side of history simply because they exchanged hundreds of dollars for the opportunity to sit through a racialized song and dance? My guess: too many.

Rather than aligning with the critiques leveled against the United States by contemporary leftist social movements such as Black Lives Matter, Hamilton’s valorization of the revolution of 1776 merely indulges in the fiction of a small, innocent, and oppressed group of young (implicitly white) men fighting for freedom against tyranny. Such a narrative resonates much too loudly with contemporary conservative social movements that wax nostalgic for white male “militias” armed against the threat of outsiders and government overreach, “militias” like the one that recently overtook a federal building in Oregon. While Hamilton makes an effort to outline its protagonist’s abolitionist investments and to track the status of slavery in its performance of history, the show’s narrative—made palatable and profitable both by these referential concessions and by the neoliberal imperative of racial diversity in casting—ultimately amounts to a valorization of the US nation-state and it’s juridical and financial systems, systems Alexander Hamilton helped to establish, and systems that have always functioned to the detriment of black and brown bodies despite what the musical might have us feel.

actors performing
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Never Be Satisfied”
I’m aware: I’m being too hard on Hamilton. It’s unlikely that I would hold Jason Robert Brown or Stephen Sondheim to such high political standards. But if I’m too hard on Hamilton it’s for two reasons: 1) a polemic is called for, critical engagement with the show’s politics has been sparse at best, and 2) Lin-Manuel Miranda is the best chance we’ve got in the musical theatre. To the former point, I and others who have risked critiquing Hamilton in public forums have often been dismissed or denigrated for doing so. Hamilton has received rave reviews almost categorically. I agree with much of this praise; the book, the score, the choreography, the direction, the lighting: it’s all genius artistry. I also yield that a Broadway production that puts so many performers of color to work does constitute a victory. This should be celebrated, but this is not enough. We cannot afford to position Hamilton above critique. The critic, perhaps ironically, must be like Hamilton himself, or better yet, like Angelica Schuyler. The critic must “never be satisfied.” We can and should demand the best from Miranda and from all of our most brilliant cultural producers. We can and should demand that the musical theatre stage the revolution we need, that the musical theatre materialize and make irresistible, with its unique magic, the just world that we all deserve.

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Jesus Nieto

I saw the play "Hamilton" three days ago and must say that it was tremendously refreshing to see people of color, both the playwright and the cast, front and center of one of the greatest smashes in U.S. theater. The lyrics and music were fabulous and the choreography and set were adequate, This is truly a groundbreaking production in my opinion. All of the foregoing give me great pause for concern. I cannot begin to understand why:

1. Anyone on earth would decide to write a play about the "founding father" whose actions were most deleterious in the history of the United States, in my opinion, during what I consider to be one of the most extremely boring time periods when only focused on the elites. If it had a single black character, perhaps a slave describing their reality, this would have made a great difference. As it is, it serves to validate the whitewash of early American herstory literally in blackface.

2. Why a "multicultural" troupe would choose to perform in this production, which glorifies a rich white man along with his rich, white, male slave-owning compatriots. Hamilton was involved in the slave trade and married into a slave-owning family (Schuylers), for whom he bought and sold slaves, and there are serious concerns whether he owned at least one slave. He was not the abolitionist the play “Hamilton” pictures him to be, according to various credible researchers. A central creed of the play is that if you work hard anything is possible. As the foregoing review states, the beginning lyrics include: "The ten-dollar founding father . . .Without a father. . . Got a lot farther . . . By working a lot harder. . . By being a lot smarter . . . By being a self-starter" Clearly, the implication is that if the underclass (people of color, immigrants, the poor, women, single parents, etc.) are dumb and/or lazy if they don't overcome their obstacles and become huge successes as did Alexander Hamilton.

3. Why Hamilton’s "multicultural" troupe would charge the robber baron price of over $300 - $400 per ticket, thereby excluding people of color from attending, resulting in a lily-white audience. I saw 2 African American males out of many hundreds in the audience I was a part of. No doubt there were more people of color than that but I very strongly suspect that they were more than a handful of the attendees.

4. Why the play would include a scene (when Jefferson first came out) wherein Jefferson acted like a dreadful contemporary caricature of Black face minstrel show performers.

After I wrote this reaction to “Hamilton” for personal reasons I googled a few reviews of this play and was gratified to see that all of the critics whose critiques I read validated my views. Personally, it was very difficult for me to sit through the play, brilliant and ground-breaking as it may be, and I didn’t enjoy any of it due to the subject matter. I would honestly not see it again unless the extremely gifted composer Miranda, who created this amazing production, were to personally pay me $1000 to do so. Seriously. I would donate that money to an organization that supports American Indians. If I were unable to donate the money and had to keep it for myself I would require at least $3000. Seriously. I very strongly disliked “Hamilton” despite its undeniably creative excellence. Miranda is a true genius and the members of the cast are amazing singers, which for me makes his work all the more harmful. The protagonist of “Hamilton” was central in forming the banking system in the U.S. Which type of financial organization profits most from wars? Which U.S. populations have disproportionate casualties in wars produced by “our” government? Which populations are victimized the most by cuts in social services that are made in order to pay for bombs that blow up babies, children, women and men with dark skin in “Third World” nations?

The originators of this financial mechanism which allowed them to be the biggest war profiteers in the world were the Rothschilds, who went light years farther than Hamilton in terms of creating economic institutions which benefitted the very ultra-wealthiest few at the expense of the overwhelming many. By no means was Alexander Hamilton in their league but he established similar mechanisms to promote a means of channeling a great deal of wealth to the top few and war profiteering. Since the U.S. now has the most powerful military by far in the world, Alexander Hamilton’s actions have tremendous repercussions. He thus helped lay the foundation for such present day entities as the Federal Reserve Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. My guess is that Miranda did not give thought to this aspect of Alexander Hamilton’s actions and their impact while writing his masterpiece..

A last point which I wish to make concerns the two populations that I believe are most affected by “Hamilton”:

1. Upper middle class White liberals, and perhaps some conservatives, are given a means of pretending that they are far more committed to social justice in general, and the welfare of African Americans in particular, than they in fact are. By giving a standing ovation to dark skinned faces and purchasing the sound track they deceive themselves and/or others regarding how moral and egalitarian they are.

2. Children of color are being exposed to “Hamilton” in schools, thus more easily swallowing the sanitized version of the herstory of the American Revolution that we’ve been fed for centuries. Because of the utilization of dark skinned faces, rap and hip hop music/dance in this production, children of color can relate much more to this version of the White-washed historical accounts of the “Founding Fathers” (Where are the Founding Mothers?) that we have long been subjected to. ("A cupful of sugar helps the medicine go down.")

Their young minds are fed a distorted herstory of the early days of the United States which completely ignores slavery, the oppression of women, and the genocide perpetrated on the Original inhabitants of this land. Meanwhile, Miranda continues raking in the dough and the apparently vast majority of the population cheers; A capitalist enterprise magnificently done.

Jesus Nieto

I saw the play "Hamilton" three days ago and must say that it was tremendously refreshing to see people of color, both the playwright and the cast, front and center of one of the greatest smashes in U.S. theater. The lyrics and music were fabulous and the choreography and set were adequate, This is truly a groundbreaking production in my opinion. All of the foregoing give me great pause for concern. I cannot begin to understand why:

1. Anyone on earth would decide to write a play about the "founding father" whose actions were most deleterious in the history of the United States, in my opinion, during what I consider to be one of the most extremely boring time periods when only focused on the elites. If it had a single black character, perhaps a slave describing their reality, this would have made a great difference. As it is, it serves to validate the whitewash of early American herstory literally in blackface.

2. Why a "multicultural" troupe would choose to perform in this production, which glorifies a rich white man along with his rich, white, male slave-owning compatriots. Hamilton was involved in the slave trade and married into a slave-owning family (Schuylers), for whom he bought and sold slaves, and there are serious concerns whether he owned at least one slave. He was not the abolitionist the play “Hamilton” pictures him to be, according to various credible researchers.

A central creed of the play is that if you work hard anything is possible. As the foregoing review states, the beginning lyrics include:

"The ten-dollar founding father . . .Without a father. . . Got a lot farther . . .By working a lot harder. . . By being a lot smarter . . . By being a self-starter"Clearly, the implication is that if the underclass (people of color, immigrants, the poor, women, single parents, etc.) are dumb and/or lazy if they don't overcome their obstacles and become huge successes as did Alexander Hamilton.

3. Why Hamilton’s "multicultural" troupe would charge the robber baron price of over $300 - $400 per ticket, thereby excluding people of color from attending, resulting in a lily-white audience. I saw 2 African American males out of many hundreds in the audience I was a part of. No doubt there were more people of color than that but I very strongly suspect that they were more than a handful of the attendees.

4. Why the play would include a scene (when Jefferson first came out) wherein Jefferson acted like a dreadful contemporary caricature of Black face minstrel show performers.

After I wrote this reaction to “Hamilton” for personal reasons I googled a few reviews of this play and was gratified to see that all of the critics whose critiques I read validated my views. Personally, it was very difficult for me to sit through the play, brilliant and ground-breaking as it may be, and I didn’t enjoy any of it due to the subject matter. I would honestly not see it again unless the extremely gifted composer Miranda, who created this amazing production, were to personally pay me $1000 to do so. Seriously. I would donate that money to an organization that supports American Indians. If I were unable to donate the money and had to keep it for myself I would require at least $3000. Seriously. I very strongly disliked “Hamilton” despite its undeniably creative excellence. Miranda is a true genius and the members of the cast are amazing singers, which for me makes his work all the more harmful. The protagonist of “Hamilton” was central in forming the banking system in the U.S. Which type of financial organization profits most from wars? Which U.S. populations have disproportionate casualties in wars produced by “our” government? Which populations are victimized the most by cuts in social services that are made in order to pay for bombs that blow up babies, children, women and men with dark skin in “Third World” nations?

The originators of this financial mechanism which allowed them to be the biggest war profiteers in the world were the Rothschilds, who went light years farther than Hamilton in terms of creating economic institutions which benefitted the very ultra-wealthiest few at the expense of the overwhelming many. By no means was Alexander Hamilton in their league but he established similar mechanisms to promote a means of channeling a great deal of wealth to the top few and war profiteering. Since the U.S. now has the most powerful military by far in the world, Alexander Hamilton’s actions have tremendous repercussions. He thus helped lay the foundation for such present day entities as the Federal Reserve Bank, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. My guess is that Miranda did not give thought to this aspect of Alexander Hamilton’s actions and their impact while writing his masterpiece..

A last point which I wish to make concerns the two populations that I believe are most affected by “Hamilton”:

1. Upper middle class White liberals, and perhaps some conservatives, are given a means of pretending that they are far more committed to social justice in general, and the welfare of African Americans in particular, than they in fact are. By giving a standing ovation to dark skinned faces and purchasing the sound track they deceive themselves and/or others regarding how moral and egalitarian they are.

2. Children of color are being exposed to “Hamilton” in schools, thus more easily swallowing the sanitized version of the herstory of the American Revolution that we’ve been fed for centuries. Because of the utilization of dark skinned faces, rap and hip hop music/dance in this production, children of color can relate much more to this version of the White-washed historical accounts of the “Founding Fathers” (Where are the Founding Mothers?) that we have long been subjected to. ("A cupful of sugar makes the medicine go down.") Their young minds are fed a distorted herstory of the early days of the United States which completely ignores slavery, the oppression of women, and the genocide perpetrated on the Original inhabitants of this land. Meanwhile, Miranda continues raking in the dough and the apparently vast majority of the population cheers; A capitalist enterprise magnificently done.

Regardless of all these strong, important points, I thank Lin Manuel for putting out a musical that has brought so much excitement to the theatre world. Especially for the younger set. He's an excellent ambassador for musical theatre.

Thanks for this article! It's one of the only ones I could find critiquing Hamilton.I've had several women get offended at me just for trying to point out that, yes, the play is pretty sexist and propagates some damn misogynistic attitudes. I mean "There are so many to deflower," seriously?! What could Miaranda have been trying to accomplish w that line? Great, now my 5 yo cousins listening can parrot objectification/virgin-conquesting ideals back to me (and impose them on women). I can't help but feel that L-M M just didn't care about having a gender-progressive play.

I am exceedingly proud to be an American, to have these Founding Fathers, flaws and all, to have the Constitution which has inspired the world, to be born from "Boot-Strap" immigrants on both sides who were as discriminated against as any immigrant in our history but they succeeded regardless of the massive obstacles in front of them and they didn't take a dime of taxpayer money to do it. What's wrong with Hamilton, which I saw because I won an off-Broadway lottery and paid $20 a ticket, is that it is not well written, the male characters sound the same (with the exception of King George), the rap is amateurish, and it is historically inaccurate. It's one of the worst shows I've ever sat through.

There is more to my country's history than the story of these amazing men and we need to explore these inspiring stories as well. We do not have to denigrate these amazing men of the Revolution to lift up the stories of others.

I knew from the start there was something notryt with this musical, and the writer's essay gives credibility to my suspicion.

I was waiting for someone to bring this up thank you Lord. "Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish, my dear Laurens, it could be in my power, by actions rather than words to convince you that I love you."Many people think he was bisexual (myself included #biham make it happen), and Laurens was gay as in his wiki page it says he never expressed a real desire in women and only married Martha Mannings because she was pregnant (John you sinner). The only thing I really wished they'd done in the musical is emphasise the relationship between Laurens and Hamilton (don't attack me for this but I kinda sorta low-key ship it). Also can we talk about the bit in hurricane which was cut where Hamilton goes "the friend who would tell me not to do it is in the ground" and I cry?

What disturbed me most about this essay was that consideration of aesthetics was at best an afterthought: "I agree with much of this praise; the book, the score, the choreography, the direction, the lighting: it’s all genius artistry." The artistry of Hamilton was relegated to one sentence, and the rest of the piece is about ideological purity. I admit to being a full-throated Hamilton zealot, and even so, I welcome diversity of critical opinion. Still, what disturbs me is a trend in academic criticism that feels to me Stalinist in its attempt to reduce art to an ideological test.

As to the Bechdel test et al: To me, the problem is so ingrained that even this critic cannot see his own #2 point in his last paragraph--that a man is the best chance we've got to include women in the narrative. Hamilton is musical theatre at its very best. But it is not about a woman. It never pretended to be.

I wish you had commented on the rape culture portrayals of sexuality this production normalizes. One entire song sung by a woman is titled “Helpless,” which is, I guess, what women are? Especially when they are “lying there” with their “legs spread” looking “helpless.” Apparently, that's a real turn on, according to Alexander Hamilton, that he “just doesn’t know how to say no to.” I’m not making that up. Those lines are actually in the show. Poor Hamilton, the victim of a scheming blackmailing femme fatale taking advantage of a man’s inherent inability to control his lust around a woman’s helplessness. What’s a stud to do?

What? You're reaching mighty far there. "Helpless" is about a woman not being in control of her feelings as she's falling for this guy - a pretty common narrative you hear about people who've fallen in love ("Boy you got me helpless/look into your eyes and the sky's the limit"). There is zero mention or even allusion to sex in the song. And a good chunk of "Say No to This" consists of Hamilton berating himself for messing up by sleeping with a woman just because she was there with her "legs spread" - he never claims to be the victim in that song. He says over and over that he should have said no, but he was weak and didn't and that's why he's in trouble. Also, Maria Reynolds on the floor crying for him not to leave her isn't very femme fatale...

First off, Hamilton is my favorite musical of all time and it deserves everything. I very much disagree with the part when you said having men of color portray our white Founding Fathers is historically wrong and takes away from the acting. Lin says that this story of Alexander Hamilton is the story of then but told now. The present. 2015-2016. It’s not odd that men of color are playing white men. I see Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson without even realizing he is a man of color. Him being a man of color doesn’t distant the acting because “we hold these truths to be self - evident that all men are created equal”. All men are created equal. He still portrays Thomas Jefferson despite the color of his skin.

There's probably nothing here that isn't absolutely true, yet, I think what's being missed here is that the people who need to get the message the most are getting it: you revere these white demigods of the revolution, when in fact their story is parallel to those of the very people you seem to think beneath such valor and admirable struggle. Let's not forget that as difficult as it had been for black and brown people to "rise up," many have done it and will continue to. I agree however, that the privilege shouldn't belong just to those who can afford it, luckily, Lin Manuel partnered with the Rockefeller foundation to make tickets accessible to thousands of high school students so...you know--lighten up! (No pun intended)

actually lin-manuel is extremely open to gender-bending and has said he expects there to be a female hamilton in the future of the show. of course this doesn't erase the critique, and it's a very valid one.

I agree that Hamilton has its faults, and it is good that some people are recognizing them. I, too, found the idea that slave owners were being played by POC, and was disappointed by the lack of female characters (yes, I know that white men were running the whole thing, but you couldn't have at least, I don't know, Martha Washington? Or someone else's wife?) However, you do have to take into consideration the source material. Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton glorifies him and skips over the not-so-great parts, and while I'm sure Lin-Manuel Miranda did more research on Hamilton, his first impression was based on the Chernow biography.Another thing: how Miranda says that he is making "America then" look like "America now." POC existed back then, and while they never received the same recognition, they were as, if not more, important to the revolution.

Thank you, James, for this much-needed critique! A couple of things I would add:

The supposed feminism championed in Hamilton is in word only, for it completely lacks in action. While Angelica speaks of fighting for equality for women and Eliza is a strong, loving spouse, other than Eliza birthing Philip & Angelica providing some encouragement to Hamilton during his negotiations with Jefferson, does either woman have any impact on Hamilton or the musical's greater narrative? Is there any point where they impact Hamilton's actions or perspective at all? Despite Hamilton's will to survive during battle to get back to his wife and to "meet [his] son," he seems motivated enough to win the war, with or without Eliza or Philip in the picture. Likewise during his negotiations to create a central bank, his fervor, and more importantly his tactics, remain unaffected after Eliza's & Angelica's pleas to "take a break," which is all the more bizarre coming from Angelica, who had just urged Hamilton to "get through to Jefferson, sit down with him and compromise, don't stop until you agree!" In the VERY SAME SONG.

Which is a shame, because the real-life Angelica Schuyler shared correspondence not just with Hamilton, but also with Washington, Jefferson, & Lafayette, showing that she certainly was a feminist exerting her power within the patriarchal system, and yet her impact is muted in the musical which basically portrays her as the 3rd wheel in Hamilton's love triangle.

Which leads to the greater issue about the construction of Hamilton's narrative, which follows the Great Men of History model, where just a few men become critical to the narrative. Actually, I'd argue it goes to an even greater extreme where Hamilton as the ONLY person critical to the narrative. I know I'll probably get lambasted by critiques taking a superficial view that a musical called "Hamilton" should obviously put Hamilton at the center, but there's a difference between making Hamilton the protagonist and having every effective event run through Hamilton. Musicals with better crafted narratives (ex: Book of Mormon, Wicked, Les Miserables) better develop the worlds their protagonists live in, and thus provide greater obstacles from which the protagonists can prove their worth. In Hamilton, Hamilton IS the world, and every character, except Washington and MAYBE Jefferson, revolves around him. Thus, save for some explosive breakouts from Lafayette & Hercules Mulligan, the protagonist is the black hole around which every character, and the story, gets obliterated.

It pained me to write this, because I really wanted to love Hamilton. Miranda is an exceptional talent (in fact, my first introduction to his work wasn't In The Heights, but his brilliant mini-musical for a This American Life live show: "21 Chump Street: The Musical") and his inclusion of hip hop and historically-excluded populations should be applauded. But the musical itself is deeply flawed, and I hope thoughtful critiques like yours don't get dismissed just because Miranda's mission for inclusion is deservedly noble.

Lin has completely acknowledged that his musical does not have perfect political correctness, a great example being Maria reynolds, who's depicted as an enchanting seductress, but she wasn't at all. Lin explains that she is written this way because the song Say No To This is from Hamilton's point of view, where he turns himself into the victim. Hamilton was problematic and the musical does not shy away from his flaws. As for the lyrics in Alexander Hamilton, the intention was likely, not to say that immigrants did not work hard or some other twisted accusation, but rather that he was a truly exceptional writer, which was what got him off of Nevis in the first place. As for the feminist agenda, The Schuyler Sisters easily passes the Bechdel test, Hamilton is not mentioned once, and all the males that flirt with the sisters are immediately shut down. Another example is Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story. This song is entirely focused on Eliza's legacy, and yes, a major part of it is Hamilton-centric, but that's not all. She spoke out against slavery, she established the first orphanage in NYC. She was a dedicated wife, that's the truth. And Hamilton didn't put her first. It's not feminist by any means, Hamilton was not so much of a feminist as others in his time; Burr was certainly a better feminist than he. But the musical never says 'Hamilton was a perfect human who never did anything wrong' it says 'Hamilton was and extremely talented man who made some extremely bad decisions that eventually got him killed'.

I do not completely disagree with the author of this review. But some of the criticisms are really of the source material/historical documentation rather than Miranda's work. If the story doesn't highlight significant blacks in Hamilton's life, or if it paints women only in relationship to Hamilton that is because (1) the play is based on a biography - the bio does not really do either, (2) any documentation of Hamilton's interactions with african-American or caribbean blacks is scant. Any documentary information about the accomplishments of the women in his life (apart from their relationship to Hamilton) is also rare.

I don't think you can really criticize this - it is emblematic of the times and of any analysis of history. One can only construct "history" around documentation. It is not new to point out that there is little written about the lives of women, blacks and native Americans of the day. If Miranda would have dramatically left the narrative of the biography, then I think it would have reduced the impact of the play. The fact that it is so "true" (historically verifiable) and "untrue" (in terms of casting and sensibility of the characters) at the same time is a great critique on history itself. In fact I read it as a postmodern statement.

I know Miranda has said that he cast minorities to reflect todays world. But the real genius of this is that it turns the story on its head. Every scene is a statement about racism and the contradictions it has created in U.S. society. I don't see black and Hispanic men and women "playing white". I see the a show that points out the sad irony of a Jefferson who had son's who were black (like the actor). All the while he is advocating for slavery. That irony is important to the narrative. Who is American? How can we in modern America reconcile race and our history. Is putting minorities in positions of power enough?

I think McMaster is missing the postmodern turn of the narrative. The casting of minorities in a "white story" is exactly the point. It creates a narrative beyond the spoken lines of the play that are essential to it.

Last point - it is a rags to riches immigrant story. But we should also remember that this didn't have a happy ending. He died penniless and reviled by most of the "American" aristocracy of the day. In fact he was hated because he was an immigrant and came from poverty. Again, ironically he only succeeded because of important benefactors (Washington). If anything it points out the fact that the struggle of the immigrant is still one that is fought - and that any success is tenuous if people in power decide you aren't necessary.

Just fell in love with the show, and decided to look for critical thinkpieces after a few of these critiques slid through my mind while listening to the soundtrack. It's been over a year since it came out and I'm seriously surprised that no one has really emphasized any of the problems with Hamilton in any mainstream publication; probably because Hamilton remains largely a phenomenon for white audiences. It's such a smart, lovable, and wonderful show, and takes pains more than most to create nuance and commentary regarding race and gender. But yeah, as a general rule, anything that has white people going in droves and wins praise from Cheney and Peggy Noonan is not going to be spectacularly radical.

I must preface this comment by saying that my devotion to this show is such that any critique of it feels as though you have slapped my 3-year old. I do not know Miranda or any of his cohort personally but they deserve the highest, highest praise for what they have accomplished, whatever imperfections it contains notwithstanding. While you concede this at your essay's end, I feel it should always be stressed.

So that bias declared, I would like to challenge a strong implication of your piece--namely that Miranda--the best hope we've got--has to address every racial and sexual critique that might be made, in one show, on the shoulders of one (very talented but still one) man. As an artist of color myself (I'm a novelist), it drives me crazy when (imperfect, as is all art) works are critqiued for the many, many things they might not have accomplished on these fronts. As you note, only us folks are asked to do this--and yes of course we bear more weight and obligation. But each artist of color is only, ultimately, who they can be. Spike Lee gets a lot of this kind of commentary too. No one artist will ever meet the standard set by this kind of essay. It's crucial to keep in mind that this is a singular work, filtered through a singular mind, that is going to come out of the consciousness of that one person. I would add that while I think you and other feminist critics do have a point about some of the content. (I don't much like that couplet "she turned red/led me to her bed/let her legs spread") , that applying the Bechdel test to this particular work is unfair. It is what it is and it's focused on the founding fathers--should "Fun Home" be fairer to straight people? Something like that could logically be an extension of your argument. (an aside, Miranda has indicated that he is open to gender-neutral casting in the future. While the economics of Broadway make that unlikely in that venue, he has made this statement).

Regarding the prices--of course they are absurd and exclusionary. But no one involved with the show can have the slightest impact on the market. That's capitalism for you. I appreciate the efforts Miranda is making with 20,000 tickets for inner-city highschoolers, in NYC and beyond, a planned educational program (to be introduced at the White House this week) and a forthcoming book. I think it behooves you not to necessarily excuse him from your critique but to at least acknowledge these efforts. And regarding what people walk out thinking, Mr. Berman's comment about his son points out that it's not useful to theorize about the complacency of the audience. Sure, you might be right. But to critique the work of art on the theorized reaction of the audience doesn't hold water. If there's one thing I've learned as a writer, I do my best (as I have no doubt Miranda has done here--he has done his very best at this moment in time. Will he do better? Will he do less? Only time will tell) but I have zero control over how people react.

So, having defended my child, I'll end here. thanks.

It's not the case that an argument for Hamilton's unfairness to women could extend to one that suggests Fun Home is unfair to straight people. Woman is the minoritized category in the binary founding father/Man - woman, while straight is the privileged category in the binary heterosexual-lesbian/queer.

So while Miranda can't accomplish everything I ask, he might have chosen not to produce a show that valorizes patriotism and the United States as such. While no single person (of color) can accomplish everything I ask, we can all persist in writing ourselves toward the horizon of liberatory political (im)possibility.

Thanks for your feedback, though. I appreciate the thoughtfulness!

Thanks for your reply and glad you found it thoughtful. I also see your point about the binary and the power dynamics within it. I am however EXTREMELY uncomfortable with your phrase "he might have chosen not to produce," this particular work in this particular way. That implies that Miranda is somehow at fault--or rather simply shouldn't choose to-- produce his art, his way, to the best of his ability, if it doesn't meet some sort of standard about various biases, prejudices, characteristics, problems with the United States, etc. To imply than an artist should essentially self-censor how he or she sees something he or she is deeply passionate about because he or she is not moving forward toward the horizon you cite, in the way that you and others see fit (I mean, really, the casting DOES mean and accomplish something, even if not all you would have it mean and accomplish) is deeply troubling to me. I don't disagree with you about writing toward the horizon (for the most part anyway). And I think you and others should critique all you want. Once the art exists, it's fair game, and discussion and disagreement is vital. But to argue that the artist --and this artist in particular--might not create the the work the way they want because of the issues you raise? No way.

As a woman, I appreciated the way Eliza and Angelica emerged as heroes. In a time when women were seen as nothing without their men, they made their own way. Before seeing this musical, I knew nothing about these sisters, so they have been raised from obscurity. This is positive, and I do see this musical as feminist. Would I have liked a whole musical about Eliza? You bet. Still, I think the women characters emerged as complex, interesting individuals.

I don't think you're being fair on the bootstraps narrative. It was remarkable that Hamilton rose to the position of power he held, given what I know now about his humble beginnings. I don't think Miranda is saying that other immigrants are less smart or don't work as hard...we can't always know what brings one person to prominence while another equally intelligent and hard-working person doesn't succeed, but Hamilton's success was remarkable and rare, and his "bootstraps narrative" an important part of the story.

The casting creates an incredible irony that a lot of people seem to miss. The fact that black actors are singing about revolution and freedom when there was none for black men and women at the time is one of the musical's most powerful statements. It's a powerful commentary, IMHO.

Revolutions are fought one battle at a time. Hamilton does not solve or cure all of society's ills. Nothing can or should in a few hours. And yet, it has made a difference, and I think it will open doors to other shows that might otherwise have been overlooked. It is a big and successful salvo in the revolution that needs to happen. Time will tell if we win the war or not.

It's easy to make "demands" on others about what they should produce when you're not in the trenches doing it yourself. To paraphrase a line from Hamilton, "Criticism is easy, son, producing is harder." If Hamilton didn't go far enough, let's see you do better.

Western theater is at its core exclusionary. Augusto Boal argued that the only true democratic theater was the open-air festivals that preceded Greek theatre. There, there were no scripts (which limit ideas) and no selected actors/directors (which limit the interpretation of ideas.) Everyone was encouraged to join in and make up the stories as they saw them.

I doubt we'll ever see those days again, so I am content with agreeing with Zak Berkman.

Of course, as a Native, multi-tribal, person, there are additional problems with Hamilton the person and show. There is substantial reason to believe the revolution was as much an act of rebellion against British constraints on colonial expansion into Native lands as a rejection of taxation. The role of the "founding fathers" in the genocide against Native people was formidable, and hardly heroic. Yet these problems are rarely discussed when speaking of the musical.

Arguing that a musical needs to live up to your expectations of it is the LEAST feminist argument ever.

I was fortunate enough to see it (yes I am white and yes it was expensive but it was my first Broadway show ever and it was a gift to myself for getting a sweet job after 2 years of underemployment and it's my money and I can do what I want with it) but I was legitimately impressed by the diversity - age and color - of the audience.

And while I agree that the economics are fraught, Hamilton and it's producers have done more than any other show in memory to make themselves accessible: daily free Ham4Ham shows; opening in other cities - MANY other cities - to be closer to more people (sure that's a money thing but it's also part of LMM's mission: to get this to the people); not to mention FREE PERFORMANCES FOR 20,000 NYC School Children!!!!! http://variety.com/2015/leg...

I agree with your general sentiment that Hamilton cannot be the finish line. It isn't. But it's a huge step forward - all the more so because it is in the format of a traditional broadway musical. This critique feels a little bit like "Sure we finally got Gay marriage but what about TRANS BODIES?" Some people just want to be able to celebrate this breakthrough. (I would also argue that most of the critics using "Revolutionary" to describe the show are just self-impressed with the Pun. "Get it? Founding Fathers? Rev-o-LUTIOnary?")

Yes: absolutely still issues to be addressed. But those issues should not be on Hamilton's shoulders: they should be on ours.

I agree with your last statement. But I am confused. Who is 'ours'? Are we not a part of Hamilton? Should we not as theater artists address (even if by our criticism) issues. Let me challenge those who are, IMHO, too in love with the show & its brilliance to be critical and address (not *solve*) the issues. Be proud of the show, love it, but do not stop and admire the work. Rather look to the issues it fails to address, as it has dealt with only a fraction. We should look critically at the things it has done well and still look to its failings. The failings are our next move, our next revolutionary goal.I believe many people are so excited that something was achieved, they are unwilling to see any flaws. As if that would lessen the brilliance of the show and its impact. Do we think less of the Kennedy presidency knowing the secrets of the White House? Do we think less of the Civil Rights Movement, knowing that Dr King was a human man and not a deity? Do we live a less holy life as we learn more and look critically at the historical innaccuracies/inconsistencies of the Christian Bible?I am just fascinated by the passion the show has created for not just the work, but for the artist as well. As if his hard work and the show itself are so good, it is blasphemy to say *anything* bad about it. I am drinking from a "World's GREATEST Dad" mug right now. . it is not enough to be a great one, but I must be the greatEST.To paraphase, "People want good theater. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand." Not that this show is sand, but can we at least be allowed to examine the grains before we ALL start farting dust?#HowBoutDemTexasBoys

THAT I can stand behind!! KUDOS for your explanation. I am always leery of the those, in any profession, that we treat as 'above criticism' by those who do not/can not do better themselves. To keep with the sports theme, there is a very winning football coach who never played the game himself; however, his critical eye has been important and even indispensable in the success of his team(s).I am sure we could probably find many food critics who are terrible cooks themselves, but have what many would still consider an 'advanced palete'. Doing good and knowing what is good are not always the same. As an undergraduate, I was fortunately enough to study with one of this countries leading theater historians. He was quick to remind us 'babies' that the practice of theater and the study of theater (by extension critics) are different disciplines. No matter how good an actor I became, it did not mean I would automatically become a good judge of theater.

On a side note, he was quick to point out that as a community of artists, we should also look to the positive side of productions. It is our duty to educate the public, bring them to our world and enhance their experiences. In part that meant, in my interpretation, to not write a bad review. Instead print what is good and feel free to not mention things that were not. This is sometimes at odds with 'celebrity critics', but I have come to enjoy the good reviews over the bad ones - not just for me! :-)I do think there is a good deal of a 'love fest' with this show. For all of its brilliance, I do not think it is above a critical eye. I am finding more and more, especially as the husband & parent of theater artists, people are sooo in love with this show that we are unwilling to examine it with the same critical eye given to such a show as 'Holla If Ya Hear Me', or even 'The Heights'. I find that interesting and disturbing at the same time. Heck, I am old enough to remember people's ire over a critical review of Assassins. . .remember that?!? HA HA HA!

As a Native American playwright/composer. I have not seen the show nor read "Hamilton." However, what I 've read, indicates another revision of history to eliminate the true story of murder, enslavement, rape and theft of native lands that benefitted not only the American Colonist, but the African slave. There is no greater emblem of "White superiority" than the doctrine of "Manifest Destiny" used to justify the horrific treatment of America's first people. The injustices of racism and feminism pale in comparison.

You feminist argument is flawed. You complain that the lyric, "Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now" diminishes any contemporary feminist validity to the Schuyler Sisters song due to the passivity of the statement. It's easy to argue the reverse using the same lyrics you quote, though. You acknowledge that the story depends on historical accuracy and a realistic portrayal of genders for the time period. You also acknowledge that there are reasons why a woman would feel lucky to be alive in a time of revolution. So in a historical context, isn't the lyric, "But when I meet Thomas Jefferson / I’m’a compel him to include women in the sequel," the sentiment of a strong character - a woman who comes to the conclusion on her own that there is an imbalance in gender equality and a woman with enough guts to vocalize her dissatisfaction publicly? Rather than passively accepting her place, she is challenging the status quo.

I'm not sure why you feel that a lack of gender-bent casting makes this show a failed attempt, either. Miranda's focus with nontraditional racial casting was to highlight the effects that immigrants had in building the country by drawing a comparison to what immigrants of today look like. This is one of the central themes of the show. Yes, Miranda could have employed nontraditional casting in terms of gender or age or sexual orientation or ability (note that this list could go on and on), but doing so would have muddied the point about race he was specifically presenting. Traditional casting in terms of gender does not make a show a failed attempt at feminism. There are countless ways to express feminist arguments within the context of a piece, and there's no checklist or quota required.

As for questioning why Miranda chose this story specifically - one centered around two men where all the characters (men and women) exist only in relation to these two men...well...that's the story he chose to tell. As a graduate student in the performing arts, you must know the various ways of structuring a story. I'm sure you've also heard that critiques are most effective when they are based on the show you saw and not the show you wanted to write yourself. As I said above, a story that lacks cherry-picked feminist elements you might want to see, can still be a feminist piece.

Thank you, James McMaster. Was anyone else disappointed by the lost potential of the silent(-ced) women in the chorus who were costumed in TIGHTER-fitting versions of the male costumes??

Also, at the Smithsonian, LMM had an pretty sexist and terrible answer to why he didn't cast women in FF roles:

"It's a complicated answer...My only trouble with doing it on Broadway is (music) keys. Because changing keys is a pain. You can actually hear in (his first musical, In the Heights) how tough it is just to write a duet for a guy and a girl to sing together. It's a challenge as a writer for them both to sound good. So that's my trouble...That being said, no one's voice is set in high school. So I'm totally open to women playing founding fathers once this goes into the world. I can't wait to see kick-ass women Jeffersons and kickass women Hamiltons once this gets to schools."

Full article (by Caryn Robbins for BroadwayWorld in Nov 2015) link: http://www.broadwayworld.co...

Yeah, many people have cited this statement in response to my piece. Indeed, I was aware that LMM made these remarks but I share your opinion that Miranda's openness to cross-gender casting in the future despite an unwillingness to have produced that possibility in the present amounts to a somewhat weak position. Nonetheless, I'm glad for his openness and interested to see this possibility get taken up in future productions of the musical.

No, James. It's not the "revolution" YOU want it to be. I'm not sure who you think said it was a "revolution" but it IS pushing the boundaries of traditional musical theater. Most scholars of dramatic criticism (as compared to "critics" . . . they are not the same thing) talk about new forms in context with stage traditions and foundations. While many may want transitions in dealing with diversity to be immediate, these movements forward are no less profound. And as to the mixed racial casting, you may be encouraged to re-examine the meaning and use of "irony" in context of HAMILTON, which seems to have gone over your head. While we do need to move beyond satisfaction of productions that calm the "white man's burden", ill-placed judgement on other work doesn't advance your thesis. And as far as your self-servicing statement "the critic must never be satisfied" . . . who do you thing ever does, or should do, anything to satisfy the critics? I do have a problem with price-gouging that the producers have inflicted on this work, that's a different point to be made.

Quick ones to your points/question:1) I've personally seen on TV and in person after the show the term 'revolutionary' used. I *may* have heard it at the Grammy's, but do not have documented proof. The point is that the term is out there and perhaps, I think you will agree, it is hyperbole. Critics are what Edward Bulwer-Lytton's " great unwashed" are atoned to in this society. Scholars of dramatic criticism be damned.2) I am of the opinion that many people and companies do productions to satisfy critics. Critics and reviews affect opinions of patrons. Patrons = $$ = ability to do 'revolutionary' show that move theater forward with things like mixed racial castings.

Thanks David. You are correct. Hyperbole. In context of "revolution" these are baby steps toward a greater good. My reference to dramatic criticism was more in the line of critical thinking and cognitive processing, which I think escapes the understanding of Mr. McMaster, as does his ironic understanding of irony.

I would argue that the irony of the cross-racial casting of the founding fathers does not in any way negate what I've observed about the implications of those decisions within the present neoliberal moment.

I also want to clarify something that has come up a lot in these comments about the category of the critic. Admittedly, I failed to account for the ways in which the Ben Brantleys of the world have stained the word, associating it with an impulse to 'take down' productions that is founded only in their own cultivated, personal taste. While taste is not absent from my own account of Hamilton, the kind of criticism to which I refer in the article is not at all distinct from scholarship (indeed, I'm a performance scholar that writes performance criticism, as are many in the field). The article attempts to participate in a sort of criticism other than that of Brantley, a criticism that attempts to trace the production's resistance to, subversion of, and complicity with histories and systems of power and oppression. I certainly don't expect any artist to do anything to adjust their practices to meet individual tastes, mine included. However, to reiterate what I've already written: I do not think I am proposing too much when I suggest that critics (which is to say spectators, scholars, admirers, fans, and others alongside those conventionally understood within the Brantley-esque critical frame) can and should hold cultural producers accountable to a robust political attunement within an everlasting project of producing the conditions for a better, more just world.

What a terrible argument to lay out there? "If you don't like it. . .do better yourself"? Really? I equate that to 'if you don't like America, go back to your own country. . ' If nothing else the theater is THE place to be critical of ourselves as well as others.

No. Not really. I am not ethnically so sensitive that the mere mention of intonation of something racial is offensive. I was raised to say phrases like "call a spade a spade", "Paddy Wagon" and have no issue with historically contexted (is that a word?) phrases like 'Nazi' to describe an extremism. Maybe it is because I was raised a black man in the South, but I am just not that culturally as PC as others. I am fine to accept the language and use of words in context. Perhaps that makes me a bad person, but in this comparison it about an analogy of offense, not the offense itself.

okay right, hamiton may not pass the bechdel tests, but it shows that women can be strong independent characters, even if they are centred around men. if it wasn't for Eliza, then this whole story wouldn't even be happening right now. and something important, 'we know all about the founding fathers but the mothers are a mystery' Hamilton gives an insight to what their lives were like and because their interactions are brief, we don't see every aspect of their lives.another major point about Hamilton is adding poc stories and lives back into the narrative. i do agree with your point about 1%ers, but just the fact that the leading role is played by a Puerto Rican man, all of the roles are poc gives 'white-way' diversity. there are other musicals like the colour purple, which add to this, but bc Hamilton is a huge success, it shows young children who are black, who are immigrants, who aren't treated equally by American society that they do have a shot and that's why Hamilton is a revolutionary musical. because a traditionally white history is being told by poc who wouldn't have that voice usually.

Thank you, James, for requiring us to think deeply about work-- beyond whether it moves us or not. I believe we should be applying a thoughtful critique to all of our work, especially as Latin@s. I personally have not seen Hamilton, but I look forward to being able to access it in the future with this critique in mind.

For those of us in the U.S.-- the buzz around Hamilton reminds me that we live in a country that is caught between wanting to deport or extinguish us but at the same time consume our culture and our work. I'd be curious to hear thoughts from people with that reality in mind.

I'm happy for Mr. Miranda's success, but I am not all that anxious to see it. At age 63, I am simply not into hip-hop. Music for a younger generation.

The Bechdel test is satisfied through "Schuyler Sisters," (the girls sing to each other about the revolution) and this also checks off the females singing to females song that you're looking for. Moreover, the fact that their entrance into the story is through their desire to be a part of the revolution elevates them. Especially when you consider the fact that the male characters think the sisters are just there to look at all the guys, but the audience has the opportunity to be privy to the fact that this isn't their mission at all. As for your assertion that Eliza is reduced in the end to just the carrier for her husband's legacy, she has a line where she says, "will they tell MY story." She also makes a point of listing all of her accomplishments. She didn't just read his work and endeavor for others to do the same. Were her actions *motivated* by her love for her husband? Yes. But would you advocate for her not loving him that deeply? She was also motivated by the fact that she learned so quickly how precious time is. You say that all of this comes too little, too late, but this is actually one of the most beautiful facets of the musical: by seeing at the end that Eliza is the one who made all of this possible, who made such lasting contributions as her orphanage, suddenly it seems possible (as other articles and think pieces have proposed) that the Hamilton of the title is referring to both Eliza and Alexander.

THANK YOU! The Schuyler sisters are introduced discussing the Revolution and their place in it. That people disregard this and focus on what the men on stage are (incorrectly) asserting tells us a good bit about how women's voices are dismissed.

That they also discuss their father and their suitors doesn't somehow un-bechdel the rest of the conversation.

It's also worth noting that Alison Bechdel has said again and again that she had no intention of creating a "test."

Go ahead and critique it. Hold Lin to a higher standard. He's strong enough and the work is strong enough to take it. The information about Hamilton supporting the alien and sedition acts is flat out incorrect. From two immigration history websites I found this: "Even Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist himself; and co-founder of the party, went out of his way to support the Democratic-Republicans in their furor over the Alien and Sedition Acts. Hamilton felt that the Federalists actions in enacting and enforcing the Alien and Sedition Acts were essentially the same kind of tyranny that they had fought so hard to remove themselves from during the Revolutionary War." A quick fact check will point out this error.

The very article you cite here includes the following text with regard to Hamilton's position on the original laws: ""Hamilton did not object to the section in the bill which provided that any alien could be deported without trial by jury, or to the one which stipulated that any alien who returned to the United States in violation of a removal order by the President might be imprisoned for life at hard labor without trial by jury. His sole remedy for the cruelty of the bill was pro- tection for foreign merchants and for the few aliens whose demeanor had been "unexceptionable." Hamilton, himself alienborn, apparently thought that it would be neither cruel nor violent to uproot the mass of peaceable aliens in the United States and deport them...In short, Hamilton urged further consideration of the bill because it threatened to strengthen, rather than weaken, the Republican "faction." He did not oppose a sedition law as such, nor did he urge the Federalists to kill their bill. He only hoped that they would not hurry it through in its original form." The article also states that Hamilton was a huge proponent of the bill's enforcement once it was passed.

Thank you for writing this, James! I think it's so important to have critical reviews such as this one.

Full disclosure: I love musicals, but can only name a few that I liked when I saw them the first time without knowing any of the material. Like many, when I saw Hamilton, I had only heard LMM's White House performance.

I absolutely love Hamilton (saw it at The Public), but it really took me a few weeks to get on the bandwagon. When I saw it, I thought of many of the issues/points you raise - especially, what you talk about in regards to Hamilton being a feminist musical. (In the end, I think I realized I was being too hard on the show based on the buzz). I really wanted more for the women to do, but I do think LMM has really crafted some strong female characters despite the issues with the historical record/moment and a lack of material to work with on their end (i.e. Eliza's letters and writing "Burn"). So, this does raise some interesting questions and ideas -- while I would never say that Hamilton is a feminist musical, I believe LMM takes a feminist approach to how he crafts the show and especially Eliza and Angelica. It's an interesting notion nonetheless.

Regarding the bootstraps narrative, I would recommend Donatella Galella's review, "Racializing the American Revolution Review of the Broadway Musical Hamilton" - http://gcadvocate.com/2015/...

Final thoughts - I think there HAS to be a place for critical inquiry about theatre, performance, and especially works like Hamilton that have truly crossed-over into mainstream culture. If we aren't doing this work as theatre scholars, then what are we here for? The negative, troll-like comments in this thread reiterate that there is so much work to be done to make the theatre community inclusive and open-minded to critical reviews such as this one.

Thanks for this perspective, Trevor! Thank you, also, for citing Donatella's brilliant review. I was quite relieved to learn that someone of her intellectual rigor and I align in our critiques more than we diverge. Speaking frankly, I harbor a lot of the same recuperative impulses as yourself. For instance, I happen to think Angelica is, as she is constructed in the context of the musical, a steadfast feminist; "Satisfied" amounts to an incredibly astute feminist analysis of her social positioning. That said—and I'm speaking mostly for the clarifying benefit of others, as I'm certain you're already attune to this—I intended for this piece to be something of a polemic, a direct and hardened response to what I perceived to be the monolith of praise the musical has received (aside from Donatella's review). I set out to offer a list of talking points onto which political allies could latch and to which those less than aligned with my point of view could at least be exposed. As you point out, judging by the surfeit of pushback my piece has received, I believe I've succeeded. That many here seem to think that musical theatre and social change are incommensurate or that the critic's words are only as valuable as their ability to make superior art is disheartening, but, as you say, it all points to the work that is still to be done.

The idea that in order for something to truly be revolutionary it has to be revolutionary on every level is rather absurd, isn't it? Maybe, at best, Hamilton is the beginning of a slight shift or sea change of the American commercial theater. Maybe not. We won't know for a long time. But like Showboat, Oklahoma, South Pacific, A Chorus Line, Rent, Book of Mormon and many other musicals before it, Hamilton certainly has taken the American Musical Theater into a new place, and maybe to another level of belief that musical theater can be relevant and impactful as well as entertaining. Sure it's not the exact moment that everything changed forever. It might be worth it to think about when the last truly revolutionary musical theater piece was created. I'd suggest that revolution in theater and in American history is a marathon, not a sprint.

Woo. You done did it now. LOL. I appreciate the conversation. It's layered. There's a lot that could be applauded. There's a lot that could be criticized. I believe HAMILTON is an artistic triumph. I also believe it just reinforces narratives Americans seem to like... rags to riches/fame/power... climb the hierarchy... the "universality" of the immigrant experience as American... etc...

"The critic should never be satisfied?" Really? I fear you have fallen into the narcissistic joy of seeing your own words in print - criticising for criticising sake - even though your points may be valid - that statement nullifies them.

Very interesting. As a huge fan of Hamilton, I am interested in reading your thoughts. I personally would love Miranda to read Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, about the Koch Brothers and their ilk. It would make an AMAZING piece of theater, and educate people about the real power brokers in America. Might make a better tragic opera, though.

This article brings up the excellent point that nothing should be above criticism. But here’s why I disagree with this guy’s specific criticisms.

In general, I could summarize this article as saying, “Yes, it has some revolutionary stuff but it’s not revolutionary ENOUGH.” (The author actually says this in his final paragraph: “This should be celebrated, but it’s not enough.”) I don’t think anyone is claiming that Hamilton IS enough. I think people are just celebrating what it is. Which is something.

Here are some of my specific criticisms of this article:

Hamilton’s Feminism:

I recently read an article that praised Hamilton for the way in which it presents its female characters (linked below). They’re allowed to be complex and real and they defy the tropes that women are usually given in musical theatre. It’s true the show doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. But it seems unfair to criticize the women for having lives that revolve around Hamilton IN A SHOW CALLED HAMILTON. This particular story doesn’t focus on the women. It focuses on Alexander Hamilton. It doesn’t claim to do anything else. There simply isn’t enough time or room in this particular narrative for the women to be given the same stage time. That’s okay. They’re still given complexity. Furthermore, the ensemble IS gender-blind casting.

To me, this criticism reminds me of when people criticized Mad Max because all the wives looked like supermodels. But it makes NARRATIVE SENSE for the prize wives of a powerful man to be gorgeous. It makes narrative sense for Angelica’s and Eliza’s narratives to center on Hamilton. IN A SHOW CALLED HAMILTON.

Bootstraps Immigration Narrative:

I do see how this is problematic. However, I would actually argue that the story of Hamilton is in many ways a tragedy, rather than a deifying of a founding father. Alexander Hamilton was prideful and overzealous and PAID A MAN A YEARLY AMOUNT SO THAT HE COULD HAVE SEX WITH HIS WIFE. He didn’t even die peacefully at home, as a wealthy, successful man. He died in a freaking duel against someone he spent a lot of his life antagonizing. But Hamilton was also intelligent and passionate and hard-working. The show is honest about his strengths and his faults. I think if the show only focused on his strengths, and had a “happier” ending, then this accusation would hold more water.

Racial Diversity

Here’s the most important thing to understand in the “color-blind” casting of the show. Lin-Manual Miranda originally never envisioned this as a stage musical. He envisioned it as a “mixed tape”—a soundtrack only. His first intention was to just record the songs. And with that in mind, he chose people like Daveed Diggs and Christopher Jackson because they had the best VOICES for the parts. And as the production grew into a stage musical, they continued to be the best people for the roles—Daveed Diggs has an astonishing ability with wordplay that works so well for Thomas Jefferson, and Christopher Jackson has a moral authority that no one else could match as George Washington. The message about race and casting is sort of incidental—something that Miranda is aware of, but didn’t necessarily intend. He’s talked in interviews about how it is appropriate because the story of America’s founding DOES belong to people of color, and they should get to be part of the narrative too. Regarding the discussion of racial violence in the show (or lack thereof), Miranda has talked about how it IS kind of a glaring hole in the show, but there simply wasn’t room for it, either time-wise or narrative-wise. There actually is a “Cabinet Battle #3,” where it’s discussed, but it was too long, was out of place, and brought down the momentum of the show. So they cut it. There is irony to a black man discussing slavery in “Cabinet Battle #1.” But the solution is either to cut the discussion of slavery altogether, which seems dishonest, or re-cast Jefferson, which would be a shame because Daveed Diggs is the best for the role.

Overall, I get where this article is coming from. But it ignores the complexity of storytelling, and doesn’t give enough credit to the positive things the musical DOES do. And even if you were to remove the race and gender issues from the script, you’ve still got a damn good story. It’s complex and honest and scathing and uplifting. I want this author to let the show be what it is, instead of lamenting what it’s not.

Coming from someone who isn't really a fan of this show... The sentiment behind this piece could apply to any work: no stage production will ever be a perfect example of modern political correctness (of course, that should go without saying since there's no general consensus to begin with). No logical person would argue a work of art can ever be "perfect" so why argue that it's not? A work of art doesn't have to attain perfection to be enjoyable, groundbreaking, or revolutionary (all subjective terms btw). Perhaps the headline is the issue.

Thanks for citing my review in this article. A more careful reading of my piece would make it clear that I see "Hamilton" as being in the mainstream of American musicals. Paradoxically, THAT's much of what makes it different. I make this point repeatedly. For example, I write: "So much of what makes Hamilton groundbreaking is its return to familiar theatrical ground from the past, in a way that makes it feel freshly sown."The focus in the essay above is an argument about the musical's conservative reserve regarding race and gender, which I won't address. But one could also argue that Hamilton the musical is politically conservative from a historical perspective -- reflecting the "Hamiltonian" view that is embedded in the Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow, which is the musical's major source. Pulitzer-winning historian Joseph Ellis has explained what that means: “It is truly humbling, perhaps even dispiriting, to realize that the historical debate over the revolutionary era and the early republic merely recapitulates the ideological debate conducted at the time, that…historians have declared themselves Jeffersonians or Hamiltonians, committed individualists or dedicated nationalists, liberals or conservatives, then written accounts that favor one camp over the other.” In Hamiltonian accounts, Jefferson is a villain -- as he is in the musical.So, when I've used the word "revolutionary" about the musical -- and I suspect this is true of other critics as well -- it's in part a pun (because it IS about an actual revolution, after all), and it's in part to gush about the show aesthetically.

I appreciate the core points you raise here, but when your skinny long haired pale skinned eleven year old son who has memorized nearly every word of the cast album bemoans that "I will never get to be Hamilton because I'm white" and you get to talk with him about the history of white privilege and the exclusion and discrimination people of color have experienced throughout our country's history --and then he goes off to do research and rap battle with his eight year old brother, well that's radical and fantastic, whether the "revolutionary" label applies or not.

http://madamenoire.com/4810...

"For black history buffs, it’s really all about the Hamiltons. Alexander Hamilton isn’t just the man on the $10 bill, he was the United States’ first Secretary of the Treasury.

His mother, Rachel Fawcett Lavain, was said to be of “mixed blood” and his father was the son of a Scottish Duke. Alexander’s older brother was dark-skinned and treated as black. But Alexander was light enough to pass and went on to establish the first national bank in the American colonies, founded the U.S. mint and wrote most of the Federalist Papers."

Nice myths but essentially rumors generated by this enemies. His mother was a French Huguenot. His father was the 4th son of a laird, which isn't a duke. I'd like to know where you got the idea his brother was dark since I've read several bios and that never showed up. (I know, historical correctness instead of political correctness.- ship me off to the reeducation camps!)

Have you ever seen the movie "Belle"? You should watch it. Brings a whole new light about what "white" people were doing in the Caribbean. Hamilton's mom can mostly definitely be French Huguenot AND "mixed blood"--whatever that means. ;)

His mother's father was white. However there were some questions about the racial lineage on his maternal grandmother's side (Chernow's bio). If Hamiltons mother did have mixed race ancestry it would have most likely been one of her grandparents that was of mixed race (part black, Caribbean). It wouldn't have been uncommon.

Even if there was mixed race heritage, the family though poor had privilege that far outweighed that of free blacks on the island. Hamilton's maternal grandparents owned slaves (five, I believe). His mother inherited three from his grandmother. Whatever her racial background, she and her family had no ethical issues owning slaves and in fact she needed her slaves desperately for financial reasons.

His father, James Hamilton, was the fourth son of Alexander Hamilton, Laird of Grange in Ayrshire, Scotland, and his wife Elizabeth. Alexander Hamilton's mother, Rachael Fawcett Lavien, was born on Nevis to John Fawcett, a local doctor of French Huguenot origin, and his British wife, Mary Uppington Fawcett. Rachael’s parents owned a small plantation in the Gingerland region of Nevis. Nice try on mixed race.

Agreed re: white rappers. We are fortunate to live in a diverse part of our town and have an elementary school deeply invested in the history of people of color. And we are equally invested in sharing and discussing that history with our children, taking them to plays and music and dance that achieves this as well. But that's all sidebar to the main point here that now Lin-Manuel and his cast ARE actual historic figures in themselves to young people

My daughter loves the play and we have had many interesting and great conversations about race, democracy and women. She is one of only a handful of kids at her school who has heard of the musical. She is introducing others to it. We play it in the car everyday. We just received the Chernow biography and will be reading it together - all 800 pages.

If any child becomes engaged enough in the story to obsessively fact check the musical and read an 800 page biography by this musical, then it is amazing in my book!

What a nauseating read. That is 6 years of brilliant and back breaking work, by Lin-Manuel Miranda reduced to someone’s rant on what the piece doesn’t speak to, and NEVER claimed to speak to in the first place.

The creator never claimed that his piece was feminist – this critic wrongheadedly arguing the merits of Miranda’s work based on the ideals forced upon it by someone else’s critique is a non sequitur at best. Stating in the article “I am startled when I come across critic’s who speak in unqualified terms of Hamilton’s feminist merits” - and so what? How does asking this piece of theatre to speak to and for the observations of others have any baring whatsoever on its artistic merit and or weather its revolutionary?

I also find it absurd that the writer accuses Miranda of “propagating a bootstraps immigrant narrative” by simply re-telling Hamilton’s actual story of an immigrant who over came adversity in a time during which our country was hungry for change and or revolution. Since when did one man’s story need to become everyone’s story in order to be free of scrutiny? That’s like being mad at a Nina Simone bio pic– for propagating the image of the down trodden and or beaten black woman, who’s mentally unstable. It’s actually one story that does or does not illuminate your own narrative.

Also condemning artists of color for making a profit in a field that is all about profit is ridiculous. He has just as much of a right to make a profit – in the profit machine of Broadway as his non-brown counterparts. He never launched it as a non-for profit piece about racial-equality, feminist ideals and immigration reform.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing what many cultural revolutionaries have done. He is attempting to crumble the institution from the inside. He is inserting people of color (and immigrants) into the center of the American narrative in an effort to give birth to a love of country and history. A love that isn’t ashamed of what it cannot look at but rather, a love that is reborn by what it once refused to acknowledge.

I applaud him. And for those who can’t figure out how Hamilton is “different” than what they have seen and or heard on Broadway in the past – it may be time to have your eyes and ears checked. I hope that we can figure out one day that the formula to our success isn’t in wasting time explaining why others don’t deserve theirs.

Mr. Carrillo ~ What do you mean by encapsulated academics? Those that "write" on theatre only? What if you are an academic and an artist? Or an academic and a hip hop teatrista? Or an academic who is an ethnic minority? Or an academic who is also a female-bodied actor who does not hear her voice in this piece? I would be hard pressed to generalize "encapsulated academics" as persons who "can't tell the difference between art and reality." BTW - Bravo Mr. McMaster. It is truly courageous to put your opinion out into a hostile world and suffer the slings and arrows of the populace! I fully support your decision to speak YOUR truth.

You can be all of those things you just mentioned "and not hear your voice" and that does not make the piece in any way less representative of a real story. Not every living person's story will be told in a single piece of art. You are free to critique a piece however you choose, but DeeDee brings up a wonderfully compassionate point that it's easy to sit down and judge a piece for what you want it to be and not what it actually is. It's less work to critique a piece for a few hours than to create the piece for six years. In that regard, I'd throw the word "courageous" to Miranda in this game, because he had a lot more invested in Hamilton than the author of a single blog article.

Fantastic. I agree with your point. Mr. McMaster is free to critique a piece of art anyway he likes. That surely doesn't make him "encapsulated" or unable to decipher "art from reality." After all, that's what a critic does, right. And Mr. Miranda creates his art, and that's what he does. No insults should be directed towards either person regarding the performance of their vocations. And I wholeheartedly throw all the praise I can muster towards LMM's initial courageous work, In the Heights. And for that matter, all the critics who did their job, hopefully sans insult, who critiqued it as well.

Alex- well put, bro; for me, an encapsulated academic is someone who spends their entire life in the classroom, and who seem to think they have a special grip on reality; the revolution is to suggest that theater should reflect the diversity of the people of all colors in the community, it should mirror the people it serves; theater of the people, by the people, for the people. Punto/Period

'mano, the important thing I want to stress here is the necessity for everyone to have a voice in the discussion, without feeling they are being shot down. I love the fact that Mr. McMaster put HIS truth out there -- knowing how many people would come screaming back. Whether I agree with his criticism is not the issue. After all, I'm sure LMM wants to hear the voices of dissent combined with those who love the rhymes spit out by Doogie. For now, I'll leave it at that. Peace.

Well, we hear Eliza Hamilton singing about removing herself from The Narrative. Then about putting herself back in. Yes, LMM has the vocabulary.

In those days, especially, war & government were sausage fests. Women did not often participate actively. Ron Chernow made an effort to include Eliza's story & LMM continued. A play just over two hours long cannot include details on everybody alive in early America.

There are many other stories to be told. I hope some of the critics will use their ideas & talents to get those stories across.

Boy this is unfair.

Feminism? Of course it doesn't pass the Bechdel test -- it's 18th century America. That the composer has fleshed out the female characters as much as he's done -- in a show not really in any way about them -- is to be applauded.

Immigrants? To say Hamilton succeeded in spite of his outsiderness is not to to say that's the exclusive path or to diminish the hardships of anyone else. The piece says immigrants CAN succeed through wit, charm and luck -- it doesn't deny disadvantage, then and now, locks out so many others.

Race? That the audience is full of rich white people is not the composer's fault, nor did he invent the industry's undeniably inequitable pricing model. He HAS, in fact, successfully chased corporate partnerships to ensure more disadvantaged school kids DO have the opportunity to see this show. Thousands will as part of this program. I'm not aware of a similar gesture by any other show. And the lengths he's gone to in reflecting diversity on stage, and I'd argue dealing with race in an historical story that dismisses it, are quite remarkable. Certainly for Broadway.

The show is, indeed, not above critique; I'm not aware of anyone arguing that. But your bar, as you acknowledge yourself, has been set impossibly high in this circumstance.

Just how big a revolution can you reasonably expect in one show ...?

Ugh. I could not disagree with this more.

1) It doesn't have to pass the Bechdel test to be a feminist work. What is so feminist about it is that it acknowledges the blatant sexism in the options available to women at the time. Angelica will never get the opportunity to be "satisfied" except for through a man. Eliza, "best of wives and best of women", gets screwed over despite her virtue. Maria Reynolds is clearly a pawn in a man's world. Yet EVEN despite all of this, the whole narrative - literally the whole thing - is framed through Eliza's eyes at the end. His legacy is literally in her hands, and she gets the final power of perspective. Miranda did not have to include female characters at ALL, especially given the narrative's historicity. The fact that he uses the story of Hamilton to shine a right on both the rights and the wrongs of the time is important. By the way, cross gender casting does exist in Hamilton... the ensemble is gender neutral. By the way, Miranda HAS clarified himself that he is not opposed at all to women playing the revolutionaries in future iterations of the show. By the way, "The Schuyler Sisters" IS a song that is an all-women's song (in the principals).

2) Your immigrant critique places contemporary politics into the story. Accusing Hamilton of perpetuating gentrification does not make sense. He WAS called a "Creole bastard" and accused of being "uppity" because he was an immigrant. Shattering glass ceilings is an essential part of Hamilton's historical narrative. He was literally a figure who came from nothing to become something. You would have to adjust the whole story for this not to be true. Additionally, it is an inherently progressive act to re-frame something that was once considered EXCLUSIVE (that the story of the Founding Fathers exclusively belonged to European, Anglo-Saxon Americans) and make it INCLUSIVE (being an immigrant is part of the story of America in itself, from the very roots of the nation).

3) See above. The WHOLE POINT is to reframe the narrative to argue that America belongs to all people, including non-white people. That is the ENTIRE POINT. YES, it is patriotic by design. By the way, your piece conveniently does not acknowledge that in his FREE pre-shows, Miranda has given much more to prospective musical-goers rich and poor alike than any other show on Bway. By the way, the piece conveniently does not acknowledge that the show will be FREE for all NYC public school children (mostly black and brown) to see - the show's producers made a revolutionary agreement with the city. By the way, your entire piece does not convey the depth of the idea of the spectator as critic and why having upper-middle class white people cheer at lines like, "Immigrants, we get the job done" is actually important and revolutionary.

4) The argument that the single piece of theatre that has done more to capture the public's interest than any other in decades is not revolutionary is too ignorant to bear. It reeks of college campus-type social justice that argues in the widest ideological terms while rejecting a pragmatic little thing called reality.

Precisely. I guess that the novelty of

{ "OOH, it's both hip hop AND a musical! It's the Story We Know™ but this time they're telling it in RAP. Far out! And is that a founding father in a dew rag? How daring! How new! Did I mention that it is a hip-hop musical?" }

is enough to make people feel they are not in Kansas anymore. But Biggie speaks the truth: "it was all a dream"

Beats me. I've only listened to the soundtrack twice and haven't seen the show, nor am I especially familiar with the real-life history, so I don't really feel qualified to argue one way or another about how prominent Peggy's role was in Hamilton's life compared to the show. I just wanted to make a silly reference to the lyrics.

Actually he answers that question in "Wait for It" and "Dear Theodosia".

We all have scenes we'd like to see. Mine would be when he dared Gouveneur Morris to slap Washington on the back, and I'm sorry they left out Baron de Steuben, who was way more interesting and essential to the revolution than Peggy. (OMG am I being politically incorrect again???)

he has an illicit affair with the wife of an english officer and suddenly has a baby. makes perfect sense. like i said. a couple of minutes on that, a couple of minutes on peggy's life and death. why even bring her up in the first place.meanwhile , a possibly untrue ''romance'' with angelica who had ''no brothers''. hollywood won't even have to try to screw up an adaptation, this already has the hallmark of one.

I'm not sure if you realise (you've probably done your research but) Peggy died fairly young, which is why she wasn't in the second act at all. Although I would've loved to see a lot more of her in the musical, seeing as she really was incredibly (eg. Peggy saves the baby), there was a limit on how long the production could be, and adding in more details and solos for Peggy and then suddenly dropping her out in the second half wouldn't be possible to do without explanation, which would probably add a fair bit onto the musical. Alongside this, Lin-Manuel Miranda would probably have to add in part about the remaining sisters coping with their grief on the matter, otherwise- well, and Peggy. As in it would just emphasise the and Peggy element if they didn't grieve over her properly. This is why I think she didn't have as much stage time (aka, basically none at all), but feel free to disagree with me or offer an alternative reason.

it's not about age but impact on ham's life. they were friends, he was at her deathbed. kind of significant. also, burr goes from an illicit affair with a married woman to being a father.ange has NO brothers!there are many flaws. and many lies. and many choices are are less than perfect.

I mean no disrespect, but I think you forget this is a stage production, and the creator has admitted it's not incredibly accurate and shouldn't be used as a completely accurate reference for things like essays, etc. And is it really that hard to figure out what happened in between wait for it and dear theodosia? The details would've added what I think is unnecessary length. Also, the musical is centred around Hamilton. Although Burr narrates it, he is not the main focus, and honestly his story could be a whole other musical- I agree Lin-Manuel could've possibly added more details (if you listen to the cut songs, I think he actually originally did- but it's been a while since I listened to those so I'll have to refresh my memory), but in the end, it's a broadway production, not a history textbook, and it shouldn't be interpreted as one.

burr suddenly having a baby is really weird. he's having and illicit, and illegal relationship, then he has a baby?!?not a hint of a mention of how that came about. a play should explain basic things.and did we need the whole angelica love story? most of it being not confirmed/outright lie? i quibble with his/their choices. the flaws just become more apparent over time. most probs haven't listened to it for a year.

I think "best friends" is a bit strong. Chernow and others have indicated that she and Alexander ("ham" just sounds lilly, btw...) kept up a correspondence (Platonic, as opposed to Angelica's flirtations...) for many years. He was, as you said, at her deathbed, but only because he happened to be in Albany on business at the time. She stayed in Albany for most of her life....little of the musical takes place in Albany; therefore she simply isn't a big part of the show.

I thank you for bringing up Ham4Ham and the efforts on the part of the production to bring youth into the theatre for little to no cost. I had hoped to be able to include this detail in the article, but there was not enough space to do so.

Most of the counterarguments to the points you make here are already in the article. (Though, to make a premise of my argument more explicit: patriotism is not a progressive position and neither is the aspiration for inclusion within it. The reasons for this can be found in the article.)

Regarding the show's feminism, this review by preeminent feminist musical theatre scholar, Stacy Wolf was just published on The Feminist Spectator:

http://feministspectator.pr...

You'll find that her argument aligns with and extends beyond mine in a number of ways. I find this passage particularly compelling:

"In the end, then, the three women in the musical occupy the most conventional and stereotypical roles—muse, wife, whore...The musical’s last number is quiet and choir-like, crammed with information that surprises an audience accustomed for the past 2½ hours to seeing the women on the sidelines. On the one hand, it’s a profound gesture of respect towards Eliza. But theatrically, it’s too little too late. After a musical packed with non-stop movement, dramatic intensity, strong melodies, and galvanizing rhythms, it’s narrowly focused and understated. Though appropriate for the show’s conclusion, it can’t rescue Eliza or women in the musical from their inconsequential role."

''literally the whole thing - is framed through Eliza's eyes at the end''that doesn't make that much of an impact.upper middle class white people cheering, feeling all warm and fuzzy and self congratulatory, i think you derailed your own argument there. of course nobody mentions indigenous peoples either. it's only about immigrants.

Hardcore disagree. It's very important that the audience understands that the story is framed through Eliza's eyes. Without her, his story wouldn't have been told like it was, especially since she organized his writings and made sure that Hamilton's hard work building our nation didn't get pushed to the side because he wasn't a president. Most people today can only name presidents and Alexander Hamilton when they think of founding fathers. A lot of that was because of Eliza. She deserves props for that, yet this fact is often pushed to the side. The show also ends with her talking about the bad-ass stuff that she did on her own after his death, like raising the other 7 successful kids and founding/running the first private orphanage in the city (which is still open today).

And upper middle class white people realizing that they are cheering for the idea of immigrants being a hardworking group of people who enrich the future of this country is important. Definitely not the priority, but if it makes even one person rethink the insanely inaccurate, yet pervasive viewpoint that immigrants are lazy and sucking the US of its resources, then it's worthy of a thumbs up, because that person is going to go out in the real world and vote based on those thoughts.

And this story isn't about indigenous people. It's about a bunch of old white men because those are the people who were leading the revolution and writing the constitution. This story has been told many times before, but not many people have cared to center it around an immigrant story or make it as feminist as it is.

neither is it about slavery without which none of this would have happend. immigrants are glorified even if they [ and lets face it, they were ALL immigrants/invaders ] build their entire lives and success on nefarious practices.so it's nice to have diversity ectr but i fear that the only people taking this apart properly are already aware of issues [ that go so far past immigrant struggles in a country build on genocide, kidnap,torture, and exploitation while going on about freedom and equality.]but who knows, thinks of, cares about the cute jefferson having 600 slaves, treating them badly, regularly ''making sweet love too'' a teenage girl, who's also a slave, and stayed a slave after bearing him 5 children, among the handful he ever set free. not her.his diatribes on the inferiority of the african race, his very serious racism and declarations that if emancipated they should be outlaws.the show does glorify a driven, workaholic, immigrant. and makes him look darker, and at the end gives his wife some credit.who works hard to preserve his legacy, his,his,his. lucky for the orphans though.and it might get a few people thinking, and many more will just be once again have their opinion confirmed that the usa is great.the price of tea? where did that tea come from, how was it produced? in the same way as their sugar, nearly.

Problem here is you are acting like this is a history textbook, when in reality, Miranda wrote a broadway show about one specific man. He has to tell a cohesive, engaging story that adheres to the truth, but is a compelling narrative that continually engages the audience. Of course slave labor was a part of the founding of our country and of course Jefferson was a racist slave-owner. Both of those things are addressed numerous times in the show, including in one of the cabinet rap battles where Hamilton calls Jefferson out on his opposition to a central banking system by reminding him that his state isn't in debt because of the exploitation of free labor though slavery. But at the end of the day, the show is about Alexander Hamilton. The author of this piece laments that it doesn't pass the Bechdal test, but the show barely strays from the topic of Alexander Hamilton and his influence to begin with. Aaron Burr is the second most present character in the show, and he has one conversation/song in the whole show that isn't about Hamilton - in which he talks about his daughter and legacy he wants to leave her. He then promptly begins talking about Hamilton again once he's done. Hamilton did not own slaves - he was an abolitionist - so it would make no sense to have an enslaved character since everyone in the show is in direct contact with Hamilton on a regular basis. Another character, John Laurens (who was one of Hamilton's best friends) was a very active abolitionist, and he talks about the injustice of using slave labor multiple times. And it would be inaccurate to call all of them immigrants. Most of the founding fathers were born on colonial soil. Just because their births predated the constitution doesn't make them immigrants. Hamilton was an immigrant tho, and while it was impossible to not benefit from slave labor at that time (unless you were a slave yourself), he was not personally trying to build his legacy on the work of slaves.And Hamilton was aware of the ridiculousness of calling for freedom and equality while people were still enslaved. If fact, historians note that Hamilton would often publicly call out those who used slaves but insisted on the importance of freedom for themselves.

they are all immigrants compared to the indigenous people that they killed. i am a fan of the show but not a fan girl. i think critically about what i like. you, like some of his worshipers on tunblr seem to take this very personally.

I'm sorry, but you aren't thinking critically. I'm not taking this personally, nor am I worshipping anything - I'm using logic and facts to talk about history and its portrayal.

You can't say that someone is an immigrant compared to other people. An immigrant is "a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country." If you were born and raised in the same place, and you continue to live in that place, you are not an immigrant. George Washington was born in Virginia, as were his parents and his grandparents. James Madison was born in Virginia, as were his parents and grandparents. John Adams and both of his parents were born in suburbs of Boston. You cannot classify any of them as immigrants - that's just not accurate.

Now did colonialists (and future Americans) exploit and kill indigenous people? Yes, they did. If this was a musical about Jeremiah Moulton or Andrew Jackson or Lewis Cass, then it would be absolute bullshit not to include the stories of the genocides they committed against native populations. But not only is that not a part of this particular story, but it's also not indicative of how all immigrants behaved, especially since many of the worst offenders weren't even immigrants.

Also, trying to discredit someone's argument by calling them a fangirl while not actually presenting historical facts yourself doesn't make much sense.

To add to your first point, I would argue that Eliza enacts agency independently of Alexander consistently throughout the show, not just in the finale. She has a recurring motif that places her in charge of the narrative perspective of the piece, singing "Let me be a part of the narrative" / "I'm erasing myself from the narrative" / "I put myself back in the narrative."

I am also of the belief that in historical narratives, women operating within the boundaries and social structure of their time and using it to their advantage is an inherently feminist act. And that is what the women in Hamilton do. That is what the Schuyler women did, as per the actual historical record. It's unfair and hypocritical to impose contemporary standards of feminism onto women who did not have the opportunity or freedom that women today have - so the Schuyler sisters seek out husbands, so what? That's one of the only ways they were historically able to exercise their agency. They did so and then used it to their advantage to do work they were proud of and to participate in the political process.

I certainly think it's valid and important to consider the ways a historical narrative changes in a contemporary context, but that line of criticism isn't always useful. It's theory for theory's sake.

None of that contradicts what he said. 1) The Bechdel test isn't the end-all, be-all of feminist tests, but it still stands for something important -- whether women can have lives or stories that can be represented without revolving around men. Like the author said, it's not particularly Lin's fault that these women's lives were constrained to a rigid gender sphere, after all, the only reason they're noted historically at all is because of their relations to famous men; as famous daughter and famous wives. LMM deserve credit for making sure that Angelica and Eliza feel like actual characters. But it's not going to be terribly inspiring for any 21st century girls.

2) Author already pre-emptively refuted your points, by pointing out that Hamilton himself didn't do particularly great things for fellow immigrants. And while the PoC casting puts a nice progressive spin on things, it can't do much about the story of the American Revolution itself, which is about progress to the exclusion of many; women, Native Americans.

3) You've got to be kidding about the pre-shows. An absolutely lovely gesture from LMM, but how many people is that at the end of the day, out of the millions of New Yorkers, out of the millions across the country? It's sweet and adorable, but not some egalitarian or revolutionary opening of access of a very, very, very expensive and exclusive piece of theatre. And it's not free for all NYC public schools, it's just for a select few thousand this year funded by some charitable org. Again, very nice and generous. But not revolutionary, and not an uncharacteristic project for the city.

4) "It reeks of college campus-type social justice that argues in the widest ideological terms while rejecting a pragmatic little thing called reality." This is TERRIBLY ironic, given that Hamilton and many of the Founding Fathers were literally hotheaded college kids who disobeyed parents, quit school, and essentially ran away to join a cause that very few considered pragmatic or realistic. Idealism and revolution rarely are.

You are a normal well-balanced person in a comment thread of SJWs working overtime. I was wondering when those grim killjoys were going to show up and subject the show to draconian doctrinaire PC rules and quotas that have nothing to do with the real people and their real lives. It actually took them longer than I thought, which is a tribute to the show. And to Hamilton, who would have thought most of the people in this thread Jacobins, and he'd be right. I'm sure if they could they would put all of us guilty of Thoughtcrime to the guillotine. Jefferson, on the other hand, would love it.

"And to Hamilton, who would have thought most of the people in this thread Jacobins, and he'd be right. I'm sure if they could they would put all of us guilty of Thoughtcrime to the guillotine. Jefferson, on the other hand, would love it."

*stands up and and applauds*

"the single piece of theatre that has done more to capture the public's interest than any other in decades" ... very true. But that still only applies to maybe 5% of the public. A fraction of those who follow Kanye West's tweets or the Kardashian's butt. It is revolutionary but one in a teacup. And before I'm criticised I do acknowledge that may be a sad state of affairs.

It is incredibly difficult to make piece of theater that truly engages an audience. All sorts of elements have to magically come together to make an evening that really works. The HAMILTON people set out to make a musical on a specific story and make it to the very best of their abilities given the circumstances they had to work with. That's it. They tried to create a show that might engage an audience. That they would get THIS kind of reaction was beyond what any of them could possibly have dreamt about. No play or musical can be all things to all people. When something succeeds at this off-the-charts level, scrutiny always starts popping up. They tried to tell a story. Create a good piece of theater. And that's it. Had HAMILTON been a mere normal success and not a MEGA-MEGA-MEGA success nobody would be saying anything. Again, theater is incredibly difficult to do well. Creating something new and fresh even more so. Let's laud what HAMILTON has accomplished and work really hard to create something that they have not. Two things that I especially like about HAMILTON: 1. It has people who never even think about theater gushing about it and wishing they were there. 2. It is making money. The next time someone approaches risk-averse producers and investors with an idea as crazy as "a hip-hop musical about the founding fathers with actors of color" perhaps they will listen.

I love this point.As someone who is confounded by the success of Hamilton, I can't discount what effect its having on those who won't go to theater. Anytime that there is a large group of people who haven't been to the theater talking about going, its a good thing.Even if I don't get why.

As someone who finds the entire Hamilton hype to be much ado about bad-rap, mapped over substandard story-telling, it was inevitable that it would first be lauded as groundbreaking by the liberal elite. -And then eventually torn down as not liberal enough. Just as people thought that Rent was oh-so-fucking-amazing, and how we now we look at it in the same way that Team America did.

Pretension will always come out as pretension in the end.Don't get me wrong. I love that you believe that its weakness stems from the idea that it celebrates an immigrant who had little, but worked his way up... because "not everyone can!"I just wish that I didn't have to watch the whipswing of "its genuis!" go to "its pedantic", when you could have just started with "its pedantic, and trying far, far, far too fucking hard to be different."

My sense of Hamilton, actually, is not that it's pedantic nor that it's "not liberal enough." Rather, it is exactly as (neo)liberal as it needs to be in order to exemplify the historical moment in which we find ourselves. Personally, I think the rap is genre-shifting and, itself, has necessarily shifted into a generic hybrid of showtune and rap by virtue of its incorporation within the aesthetic spread of musical theatre. I also think RENT, though of course imperfect, was undeniably life-sustaining in its historical moment and remains widely beloved, particularly by those of us on the margins of even musical theatre's queer worlds.

Also, in relation to the white wash of musical theatre we are presented with today, Hamilton is inarguably different and needn't try hard at all to be so. My project here, as I wrote, was to interrogate the function of that difference.

Hamilton was certainly a huge effort to be different! A historical rap musical using an all color cast to represent historical figures who were white? We're not just talking about The Wiz, where you took a very white story and literally change the story and music to fit a fictional story. Its literally trying to change history. Which is fine... but let's not confuse it with anything else.And I don't think that Rent has survived the test of time at all. I'm not counting on my own opinion here, but from what I've been told from people inside of the musical theater culture, starting with queer opinions. You can't talk about a remounting of RENT without the sound of eyes rolling.

Why should we demand that commercial Broadway musical theater stage the revolution? Is it even possible for that system of production to do so? Why should we be too hard on Miranda and not on Sondheim?

Certainly the Wall Street Journal serves its own politics when they label something like this "revolutionary," and we're wise to remember that this is not that; and that revolutionary gets used as a synonym for innovative and groundbreaking (at least nobody is talking about how Hamiltion, say, "disrupts the form of the musical" or something). But what do we gain by going after Hamilton?

One thing overlooked here, in making the case for how Hamilton valorizes the nation-state, is how the musical performs the construction of the nation as inherently anti-democratic - deals made between a handful of men in a room that we're all excluded from, for the example - and how flawed and malleable the entire system of governance is. In the days of Scalia, for whom the Constitution was almost a holy document, this is a vital correction. 1776 this is not. The challenge that Hamilton poses to reactionary politics, its implicit argument that every American, and every immigrant, has an ownership over American identity and narrative, doesn't resonate with conservative militias. There's a mass movement in the streets being led by young people of color, and Hamilton stages a revolution being led by young people of color and it does it without appropriating the images of the movement as commercial entertainments so often do.

Does it celebrate colonial history? Sure, but it alters our relationship to that history in that "irresistible" musical theater way.

Your point about Hamilton's portrayal of the anti-democratic aspects of American government is really well taken.

To your other points: I'm unsure whether commercial theatre can stage the revolution I want to see (although, I will say that I believe 'Fun Home' and 'In The Heights', which I mention in my polemic, move in that direction, as might the current revival of The Color Purple). I think we should be this critical of JRB and Sondheim, but, with all due respect to those master artists, I simply don't believe them to be capable of accomplishing what Miranda can in this regard. You're right to point to the elastic and instrumentalized use of "the revolution" as a rhetoric that nebulously circulates Hamilton, and in my appropriation of the term (which is, admittedly, more figurative than literal) I'm just hoping to trouble the term's too-easy attachment to the musical suggested by some (in ways that I think rhyme with your critique of me), while pointing toward the horizon of alternative political possibilities for the unique apparatus of musical theatre. If Hamilton has proven anything it is that the musical theatre is uniquely equipped to excite people through a mobilization of affect and attachment. I have to believe in a leftist politically potent horizon for such an apparatus, and, personally, I don't need or expect it to manifest on Broadway. I certainly don't understand myself to be 'going after Hamilton;' I think critique is something we owe those things that we admire and love. To your final point, I'm of the opinion that for all the ways Hamilton's aesthetics enable us to relate to history differently, it does more political work to reify the injustices that are founded in those histories through its participation in a contemporary neoliberal "affirmation of difference" to borrow an idea from the scholar Roderick Ferguson.

I'm just of the opinion that much of this is to state the obvious, that a hit Broadway musical about dead white men is a hit musical about dead white men. Maybe that's work that needs to be done, but it also points to the reasons why people think about the ways in which it's not that. I think that despite the historical narrative, that it's not fundamentally about that history, that the show does other work on levels of metaphor and representation and form. That the casting and the nature of musicals give us a distance from history, and we have can read it as abstract. There's womanizing young idealistic power hungry capitalists, but those characters are involved in collective struggle and triumph and the realities and pitfalls of putting together a new regime. Is the good it does outweighed by the bad? I'm not convinced yet - indeed I find myself arguing that the good outweighs the bad here, given what it is, or perhaps especially what it is, considering how it's changed the possibilities of the form - but I'd be eager to read a more thorough argument.

I'm wondering now, though, if Miranda can really do what you ask of him? After all, it makes perfect sense for someone who has just risen to the top of his field through his apparently singular talents to go and make his next project about that very thing - and what's more neoliberal than that? Perhaps asking this same singular individual to come to the cause is to begin to fall into the very affective trap that Hamilton stages.

To be clear, I'm only arguing that Hamilton's political positions in the three areas I've noted (feminist representation, immigrant narrative, and racialized neoliberal obfuscatory incorporation) are not as progressive as often portrayed in critical and audience responses to the piece. I insist that a quick scan of the critical response to the production demonstrates that these points have not been obvious to many. I insist, as well, that the production IS "fundamentally about" these histories AND about Miranda's relationship to them (who lives, who dies, who tells your story and all of that). An analysis of Hamilton's formal innovations would require another article, but I do not believe that such an analysis would diminish what I've written here as you speculate. Further, having been involved in social movement work myself, I refuse to underestimate the damage done to organizing and organizers when womanizing, capitalist idealism is given a pass because it mimics an ostensibly generative model of collectivity.

Still, I am NOT arguing that Hamilton's overall performative force in the world is more bad than good. It's a rare aesthetic object (cough, the Mikado, cough) that would be so clearly impoverished politically that one would be able to account for all of the political effects, positive and negative, the production proliferated for those it has touched.

I doubt, actually, that Miranda or anyone else can accomplish that which I suggest we strive for with the musical theatre. And if Hamilton has seduced me into that trap of wishful thinking, I remain there with the hope that the striving for a flourishing theatrico-political otherwise will continue, for Miranda and for everyone else.

Reading James McMaster's thoughtful (and well-written) article, and then reading so many of these thoughtful (and also well-written) responses above is a multiple excitement unto itself. Any of us who watched HAMILTON's early stage of pre-Broadway development (struck by its ingenuity, its energy, and above all its provocative nature that by no means at that time assured that it would be a 'hit' play, nor that it would be hailed in any extreme way as "revolutionary") will be extra enthralled by the range of articulate 'what it does and what it doesn't do' assessments here. Thank you, HowlRound, for this passionately dissonant chorus!!!!

thank you so much for writing this piece! It is brave and important critique. It's clear to me that you are not bashing Hamilton, you are simply creating space for us to push theatre (even mainstream theatre) forward. I think Lin would be happy about how you're trying to push things. And if not, then they still need to be pushed! It's scary how once something is famous there's such a paralysis in being able to look at it with some nuance. As much as I LOVE this show, I agree that it's in no way empowering of women characters. I'm sure it is empowering for the women in the show to be in Hamilton, but as characters, as a piece of work -- it's nowhere close to feminist. In fact, it's pretty misogynistic. It's clear to me what you've said -- that this show is significant in many ways, but not revolutionary - and I agree.

I'm sorry. But the words "musical theater" and "revolution" can never be taken seriously in the same sentence.Its musical theater.The reason why I hate things like this is because its all about people dipping their toes into politics of yore through a 2016 lens. You cannot possibly comprehend what the founding fathers were giving up by their revolution against the state... because most "revolutionists" today are for more involvement by the state. They aren't anti-state, but statists.... who want the government to become more involved in their lives.

There's actually a lot of theatre scholarship that refutes the fact that musical theatre and what we could broadly call 'the political' are incompatible. Much of the scholarship suggests that such a separation tends to cast musical theatre as frivolous, a term usually coded with misogyny and homophobia.

Did you first strawman me with the word frivolous, and THEN suggest that the word is homophobic and misogynistic to use?Why yes, yes you did.Ergo making the most cowardly defense of musical theater, ever.

I did musical theater in high school.Its never been a serious art form. That doesn't mean it needs to be derided, nor does it mean that it can't be fun. But when people pretend like its weighty, I can't even begin to take them seriously. Its not. Its not supposed to be. Its musical theater.Some things are just meant to be fun.They aren't there to solve the world's problems. They aren't there to make us socially aware. They are there to make us feel good for just a little bit.That's what some people forget when they make musical theater. That's what Speilberg forgot when he produced "Smash!"That's not to say that it can never be serious. Its just that when it is, it becomes less watchable. (Fuck you... Les Mis.)

"It's never been a serious art form" This is, first of all, not true: Of Thee I Sing, South Pacific, Fiorello -- all three won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama -- Assassins, Runaways...The list is long. (I do not include Les Miz.) I would argue that crowd-pleasing hits like Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Rent, and In The Heights helped change audience perceptions about contemporary social issues, and were also therefore "serious."Perhaps you dismiss all these musicals as "less watchable." But what they demonstrate -- and this is the more important point -- is that musical theater CAN BE a serious art form.Elizabeth Swados, who died last month, made this point about her musical Runaways 25 years ago. “What I set out to do was make an experimental musical theater. Broadway is a museum that’s not moving forward, and musical theater should reflect what and how we are now — our pop culture, our political situation.”

THANK YOU. I don't think you're being too hard on Hamilton at all. I think the critique is necessary amidst the insane praise. Also extraordinarily bothersome re: the women is the tired trope of woman [Maria Reynolds] as a succubus who drags the great man down. "She led me to her bed, let her legs spread..." etc. while Hamilton rationalizes (and therefore becomes redeemed) by "I was longing for Angelica, missing my wife..." / "You can have me/I don't want you." Even Eliza's final "triumph" in the narrative at the end is entirely framed as, "How can I continue my HUSBAND'S work?"

I dunno, I would argue that Maria isn't really shown as the villain within the narrative. It was definitely clear to me from the first listen that 1. she was manipulated by her husband, and thus it wasn't her fault, and 2. it was Alexander's own mistake that caused all that trouble.Also, in terms of Eliza, I don't think that's accurate at all? Sure, a good part of her final song is carrying on her husband's work, but that is, historically, what she strived to do — and her MAIN triumph, her "can I show you what I'm proudest of", was the orphanage, something entirely of her own creation. I can see your points, but I do think you're judging these female characters too harshly.

"Say No To This" unequivocally places the blame for the affair on Alexander. The entire refrain is him saying, "I didn't say no, I should have said no." Not, "she seduced me, it's her fault." The lines "She led me to her bed, let her legs spread" doesn't strike me as blame so much as an objective retelling of events that led him to making a poor decision.

Um, that's EXACTLY what happened. You know, in the real life story of the real guy named Alexander Hamilton who really lived. You want to make a paint-by-numbers boring political "narrative" you have to make it about someone else.

like Hamilton introduces her as "MISS Maria Reynolds" to try and put the blame on her, and if you listen closely at the end, he actually says "How could I do this?" so he knows it's his fault but wants to put the blame on her (which is what he did in The Reynolds Pamphlet

*note that I am talking about this from a historical perspective, while mixing in the lyrics from the show

I love it when a person who admires a work is able to clearly see what it does *not* do. I myself look more closely at the works I love and respect *because* I think they have something to offer. This is honoring the text. If I walk away congratulating myself on attending a "revolution" ... then I have have in fact failed to participate in that process of revolving. It's important to see what is there -- in the play, and in myself. Thank you for helping me to see these things more clearly.

I am thankful for this critical inquiry. Broadway has been failing ( failing everyone.... audiences & funders alike) for so long that it seems culturally we are afraid to critically think about a show that is as financially successful as Hamilton. While making a sh!t load of money is the goal of capitalism, we as artists, thinkers, teachers and community members must look beyond the financials and ask ourselves "What is happening?" "How is this helpful?" "What narrative is this exposing, covering or demystifying?". I admire the author for his discontentment and the boldness to share it. Write on. Think on. Question everything. See through the veils.

I'm curious to know how you think Broadway has been failing people for so long. As an entertainment source (it has never claimed to be otherwise) it has been a reflection of the times, and in some periods has been far more progressive than other mediums of entertainment. To me, this is far from a failure. Is there a way that you feel Broadway could be less of a failure while still being the collaborative entertainment source that is has always been?

I find Broadway to be more exhilarating today than I can remember. These creative and wonderfully different shows are all playing now: Hamilton, An American in Paris, The King and I, Kinky Boots and Something Rotten. Each one is special in its own way. Have seen three of them more than once, and it has been a long time since I have seen a show more than once.

For what it's worth, An American in Paris and The King and I are decades old. Broadway has always been exciting. It's just that it's always been off-limits to the common person. Hamilton is off-limits as well (other shows' lotteries may cost slightly more but you've got a much better chance of winning them), but the constant barrage of coverage, as well as the use of hip-hop, has made it seem more a musical of the people.

The movie American in Paris is old, but this is new to Broadway and the dancing is spectacular. Christopher Wheeldon, an international BALLET choreographer, both directed and choreographed An American in Paris. It is extremely well done. The current remake of King and I on the massive Lincoln Center stage is spectacular and the oriental children are so good. AAIP and King and I are not off-limits if you use TKTS on an off night or WEd. matinee.

Fair point on American in Paris. I've tried TKTS but the lines are often massive and I simply don't have time. As for off-nights or Wednesday matinees, they may work for some people, but I'm busy in the evenings and have to head off to work bright and early in the morning. I can only go to shows on the weekends. I count myself as fortunate for having seen Hamilton through a special program (so I agree with this article's critiques) but I also know that I otherwise would have no access to it, or any other Broadway shows.