Hamilton: a beginner’s guide

Hey Readers,

It’s been a while but I’m back! I hope you guys had a good new year and are enjoying the winter weather! I went skiing in Tahoe a couple of days ago and the snow was crazy! Literally crazy. It snowed so hard 2/4 days we were there. It was hard for us to back out of the parking lot because of the snow piled everywhere. Anyway, back to the blog post!

Today’s post is about my current obsession, Hamilton the musical. A couple of months ago I thought I was obsessed. I listened to a few songs and liked them. That was it. Now, i truly am, I mean you don’t even want to know how bad it is. Like its stalking original cast member bad. Watching illegal clips of it live bad. Listening to it non-stop bad. (If you are as obsessed as me you will get the reference)

Before you back out because you either don’t like Hamilton, or you’ve never heard it, please give this a chance. In fact, this is the beginner’s guide to it just for you people, a little introduction on what it is, some songs to start with, and a little bit on each character. Without further ado, let’s start!

 

 

What is Hamilton?

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Hamilton is a Tony winning musical all about American history. Some of you maybe be thinking how boring *yawn*. Before you do read the following: 1. Many songs (but not all) are hip-hop/pop making it appeal to younger audiences/non theater geeks like me. There are rap battles and roasts along with beautiful melodies. 2. Celebrating the true diversity of America, all main cast members (except England’s King George III) are non-white. Latino, black, asian, puerto-rican, you have it all. 3. It’s written by the amazing Lin Manuel Miranda who makes everything, even American history, exciting! Still not convinced? Keep reading! 

 

What is the musical about?

This is hard to sum up but wikipedia does it pretty well. It’s in 2 parts, one about Hamilton’s success and rise to power, the other about his fall to power and the end of his life. Here is my summary:

The musical begins with the company summarizing Alexander Hamilton‘s childhood as an orphan. In the summer of 1776 in New York City, Hamilton seeks out Aaron Burr. Hamilton ignores his advice and joins three revolutionaries he meets, Laurens, Mulligan, and Lafayette (more about them later). The revolution is underway, and Hamilton, Burr, and their friends join the Continental Army. Hamilton is hired as Washington’s right hand man. In the winter of 1780, the men attend a ball given by Philip Schuyler, and Hamilton sets his sights on the man’s daughters. he ends up marrying Eliza, even though Angelica has feelings for him too. As the revolution continues, Hamilton asks Washington to give him command, but Washington refuses, instead promoting Charles Lee. Laurens, now also an aide to Washington, volunteers to duel Lee. Laurens wins the duel by injuring Lee. Washington is enraged at the duel, and orders Hamilton to come home to his pregant wife, Eliza. Lafayette takes a larger leadership role in the revolution, persuading France to join the American cause, and the balance shifts in favor of the Continental Army. Washington and Lafayette realize they can win the war by cutting off the British navy at Yorktown, but they will need Hamilton to do so, and the general reluctantly gives him his long-awaited command. After several days of fighting, the Continental Army is victorious. The British surrender in the last major battle of the war. Soon after the revolution, Hamilton’s son Philip is born, while Burr has a daughter, Theodosia. Hamilton receives word that Laurens has been killed in a seemingly pointless battle and throws himself into his work. Hamilton becomes very successful as a lawyer irritating Burr who also started law.

Act Two

Thomas Jefferson returns to the U.S. from France. Washington has asked him to be Secretary of State under the new Constitution, and Madison asks for Jefferson’s help to stop Hamilton’s financial plan, which Madison believes gives the government too much control. Jefferson and Hamilton then engage in debate over the merits of Hamilton’s financial plan during a Cabinet meeting. Washington pulls Hamilton aside, and tells him to figure out a compromise to win over Congress. Eliza, Angelica and Hamilton’s son go upstate during summer while he works alone at home. Hamilton is visited by Maria Reynolds, whose husband is mistreating her. When Hamilton offers to help her, they begin an affair. Maria’s husband James Reynolds blackmails Hamilton, who pays Reynolds and continues the affair. Then, Washington tells Hamilton that Jefferson has left his position in government in order to run for president, and that Washington is stepping down. John Adams is the newly elected president. Meanwhile, rumors about Hamilton’s affair begin to start so he writes The Reynolds Pamphlet. His personal reputation, is ruined. Years later, Hamilton’s son Philip challenges a man to a duel. Philip is shot and taken to a doctor, who is unable to save him.  In the aftermath of Philip’s death, the Hamiltons move uptown. Hamilton asks for Eliza’s forgiveness, which he receives. The presidential election of 1800 results in Jefferson and Burr deadlocked in a tie. Hamilton throws his support behind Jefferson, who ends up winning the delegates. Burr challenges Hamilton to a duel.  As a gunshot sounds, Hamilton thinks about death, his relationships, and his legacy. Hamilton  is shot and dies. It’s not over yet though, Eliza explains her legacy and how she started a orphanage in honor of Alexander.

 

Characters

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Original cast: (from left to right) Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Daveed Diggs as Lafyette, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and Lin Manuel Miranda as Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton: an ambitious orphan from the Caribbean. Smart but a little too cocky. Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator of hamilton orginated the role. STOP BEING SO TALENTED!

Aaron Burr: the villain in our story. He kills Hamilton but was also friends with him in a weird way. Leslie Odom Jr. portrayed him originally and even won a Tony!

Lafayette: describes himself as the “Lancelot of the revolutionary set.” Has trouble with English but also has the fastest rap in the whole musical. Portrayed originally by Daveed Diggs who makes Lafayette come to life.

John Laurens: always drunk, strongly against slavery. Hamilton’s best friend (and secret lover). Anthony Ramos originally played him and has probably one of the most inspiring stories out of all the cast members.

Hercules Mulligan: Spied on the British government and was a flower girl at Hamilton’s wedding. Enough said. Okieriete Onaodowan played him originally, and while intense and wild on stage is known as a gentle giant.

 

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The Schuyler Sisters Left to Right: Phillipa Soo as Eliza, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica, Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy

The Schuyler Sisters were the Kardashians of the late 1700’s. There was

Angelica: the oldest and wittiest. Was in love with Alexander but gave him to Eliza because she is sister goals! She is played by Renee Elise Goldsberry who nails the high notes as well as the fast rapping.

Eliza: sweet, kind, and too trusting. Becomes Hamilton’s wife, then gets heartbroken after he has an affair. Phillipa Soo originally portrayed Eliza and has the voice of a literal angel.

Peggy: the forgotten sister. A lot of memes are made about her. She basically disappears after Eliza and Alexander get married. Jasmine Cephas Jones nails the part of the ignored sister.

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Jonathan Groff as King George III

King George: the pathetic king of England who likes to sing funny breakup songs to America. Jonathan Groff really brought out the sassy-ness and cartoonesque feel to him!

Phillip: Hamilton’s oldest son who gets shot by George Eacker. Since Hamilton is double cast. The actor for Laurens also plays Phillip.

Thomas Jefferson: Sassy and snarky. He’s basically a teenaged girl and politician rolled into one. The actor for Lafayette will portray Jefferson in Act II.

George Washington: the powerful general who is savage. He is pretty cool and is either rapping faster than the speed of light or singing like an angel. Y’know, casual.

Maria Reynolds: hot but desperate. Had an affair with Hamilton. Played by jasmine Cephas Jones aka Peggy

What songs should I listen to? Where should I start?

Here are my recommended songs for beginners of Hamilton.

To get started: Alexander Hamilton

This basically just teaches you about Alexander Hamilton’s life in four minutes. If you don’t like this, fear not, there is a song on the soundtrack for everyone

If you like classic broadway: The King George songs

This is more on the traditional side of all the Hamilton songs. This is also a great song if you want to laugh at the patheticness of England, no offense English readers haha.

If you want to fall in love: Helpless

This upbeat song is perfect to listen to if you believe in love. Or if you are just obsessed with Phillipa Soo.

If you want to meet the characters: Aaron Burr Sir

This song introduces the main characters in Hamilton act 1 in a rap sort of way. Listen to the whole thing because you want to get to the good stuff (aka Mulligan, Laurens, and Lafayette)

If you like 90s slow jams: Say no to this

Even though we hate Maria Reynolds, we love Say No to This!

If you want to listen to a rap battle: Cabinet Battles

“We almost died in a trench, while you were off getting high with the French!”

Other good songs: Satisfied, The Schuyler Sisters, Guns and Ships, etc…

 

And that’s the beginner’s guide to Hamilton. Let me know if this inspired you to start listening to Hamilton!

 

xoxo,

californiangirl 

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9 thoughts on “Hamilton: a beginner’s guide

  1. Thank you so much for explaining this for me!!
    I’ve heard lots of people reference it but I’ve never known what it is :’)
    It sounds pretty interesting, I’ll have a look!
    I hope you’re having a lovely day! 🙂 ❤

    Lauren xx

    Liked by 1 person

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