Hamilton Blows Us All Away


Hamilton returns to Boston. (Photo Credit: Ed Siegel @ WBUR)

In the beginning of 2023, the widely acclaimed and award-winning musical Hamilton was brought to Boston, a historically rich city and the birthplace of the American Revolutionary War.

Hamilton was performed at the Citizens Bank Opera House for two months, opening on January 17 and running until March 12, with tickets selling out quickly. The musical is about 2 hours and 45 minutes long and is split into two acts, with an intermission in between. The first act describes events in the Revolutionary War, while the second act portrays the early founding years of the United States.

Watching Hamilton at the Opera House in Boston seems fitting to the plot of the musical. A significant part of the Revolutionary War took place in New England, with events such as the Boston Tea Party and Boston Massacre marking the start of the rebellion.

Georgia Ryan (II), who was able to watch the musical live, describes the experience: “Seeing and hearing the ensemble in person, with all of the mass group dances and harmonies, was truly breathtaking.”

Drawing inspiration from Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda started composing music and lyrics for the musical in 2008 and completed it in 2015.

Alexander Hamilton, the leading character of the play, became the first Secretary of the Treasury for the U.S. after the revolution. The musical describes Hamilton’s hardships of growing up as an orphan and struggling to get an education, while also detailing his personal relationships and journey towards becoming an American founding father.

A large part of the contemporary significance of Hamilton comes from its cast’s diversity. Both the casts in the original Broadway production and the Boston production feature people of various ethnicities and backgrounds who play white figures. In doing so, the musical recognizes the people of color who have gone unrecognized in their contributions to the U.S. and more accurately represents the U.S. population today.

A remarkable part of this story is the musical twist, which features rap music, in addition to songs with jazz and R&B influences. Famous figures of the founding period include Hamilton, his nemesis Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson, former presidents James Madison and George Washington, who appear and rap in the show.

The rap music provides a fast-paced environment, enhancing the revolutionary plot.

Ryan expresses, “My absolute favorite song I saw live was ‘Non-Stop.’ I think it’s genius that one song can have so many references to past songs layered on top of each other and still sound amazing.”

These collections of songs feature humorous and catchy lyrics, which explains the attractiveness of videos pertaining to the musical. Hamilton’s TikTok account has gathered 1.9 million followers and 48.7 million likes. Thousands of users around the world continue to use songs from the musical in their own videos, proving that Hamilton’s popularity continues today.

The original Broadway show received a Grammy and 11 Tonys, including Best Musical, among other notable awards. In November 2016, the show made 3.3 million dollars in a week of eight performances, exceeding the previous record for the most money grossed in a single week on Broadway.

After watching Hamilton both on Disney+ and live in Boston, Cleo Barowsky (V) notes, “It’s also really emotional and is really entertaining and moving throughout!”

The play shows the audience a different lens of the revolution, focusing on the personal hardships that Hamilton faced in his complicated relationships with his wife and the devastating death of his son.

Boston Latin School history teacher Mr. Andy Zou comments, “In many ways when we learn about the politicians and historical figures, we really only see their accomplishments and achievements or their failures, and really, they become characterized [in the play].” Hamilton creatively blends history with an emotional storyline and catchy music to produce a musical that has impressed millions.