Hamilton in LA

Started by Chris L, Sep 25, 2017, 10:43 am

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Chris L

Yeah, it helps to see it. It's as much a dance (and even mime) piece as a musical, and it's not always easy to grasp the context of the action simply from the lyrics.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Gordonb

There was a tv programme recently profiling Cameron Mackintosh; he has totally gutted and refurbished the Victoria Palace theatre at great expense and it does seem like it will be a tremendous production, and let's face it he knows his musicals. But still ...meh

Chris L

Sep 26, 2017, 11:33 am #17 Last Edit: Sep 26, 2017, 12:27 pm by Chris L
Quote from: Gordonb on Sep 26, 2017, 11:28 amThere was a tv programme recently profiling Cameron Mackintosh; he has totally gutted and refurbished the Victoria Palace theatre at great expense and it does seem like it will be a tremendous production, and let's face it he knows his musicals. But still ...meh
I hope you're not doing what I do with OBCs: listening to it from the start over and over without finishing it. Because a lot of the best songs, like "The Room Where It Happens" and "Washington on Your Side" come later (though the lyrics consistently build on what comes earlier, with repetitions of both lyrics and musical themes woven throughout). It's a denser score than it seems at first, very tightly packed with internal cross references.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

Chris L

More thoughts on Burr as the tragic hero of Hamilton and the resemblance to JCSS:

The tip-off that Burr is the tragic hero comes right at the beginning, when the opening number, "Alexander Hamilton," is introduced by Burr and climaxes (though doesn't quite end) at his line: "And I'm the damned fool who shot him." Similarly, JCSS opens with "Heaven on Their Minds," sung by Judas, who keeps repeating, "Please remember that I want us to live." Ultimately, both Christ and Judas end up dead.

Over on Facebook, both @AmyG and @Jenniferlillian think the resemblance between the shows is deliberate, which is quite possible.
But us, old friend,
What's to discuss, old friend?

scenicdesign71

Feb 04, 2020, 05:34 pm #19 Last Edit: Jul 21, 2020, 08:36 pm by scenicdesign71
Thanks for your astute observations about the staging, @Chris L !  I'm afraid I somehow hadn't read them before now, but they made me reconsider it in at least one important new way.

Hamilton is chockablock with inspirations drawn from other musicals, and I'm 99% sure Miranda addresses the JCS/framed-by-the-antagonist connection in Hamilton: The Revolution -- that similarity certainly struck me the first time I heard the opening number.

He also mentions Les Miz more than once, which, again, came as no surprise: "The Story of Tonight" basically is "Drink With Me," one could argue that "Hurricane" is Hamilton's "Javert's Suicide" (A.Ham's career suicide as a statesman, if you will, featuring some distinct dramaturgical and staging similarities to the death of Javert) -- and hey: late-18th/early-19th-century revolutions, recapped in through-sung, contemporaryish, more- or less-pointedly un-"period"-sounding scores.  (Both are also adapted from doorstops, and both are consequently shaped in large part by the need to compress huge amounts of narrative information into a reasonable running time -- a little under three hours each).

The original production's primary debt to Les Miz is its set design and its particular use of the turntable(s) -- not so much to move or reveal scenery as to sculpt ever-changing tableaux of actors (and occasionally a bit of furniture, though no actual barricades).  Indeed, this basic staging strategy, set within a cavernous surround of weathered Colonial-era brick and timber, so dominated my impression of Hamilton on Broadway that I wasn't always sure the unavoidable comparisons to the Nunn/Napier Les Miz were doing Kail and Korins any great favors.  To anyone who hadn't seen the prototype, it was undoubtedly dazzling; to anyone who had, it all looked startlingly familiar.

But I hadn't deeply considered -- as you did very perceptively in your post -- the impact of Blankenbuhler's choreography. (Les Miz has, by contrast, no dancing to speak of, apart from the ball late in Act II).  I've only seen Hamilton once, from the orchestra, but I did leave thinking that next time (and there will undoubtedly be a next time) I'd like to sit in the mezzanine.  I also need to give Howell Binkley's lighting another chance; on a first viewing it seemed to me to be overcompensating, sometimes quite gaudily indeed, for the set's deliberate spareness -- but seeing it again might soften that impression.

Perhaps I'll consider October 15, 2021 my deadline for checking it out again in the flesh.

Also, re: great songs that occur later in Hamilton's score:  "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" is a pretty amazing sequence.  "One Last Time" easily earns its frequent use for "special appearances" and events.  "It's Quiet Uptown" guts me every time.  And the show's final ten minutes -- from the Hamilton/Burr duel onward -- are as brilliantly constructed and as moving as any I've seen since SITPWG (which, for  me, is saying quite a lot).  And all are, as you mention, beautifully woven into the fabric of the score, with echoes and cross-references elsewhere.