So NPR has the Original Cast Recording of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “Hamilton” streaming for free, for a limited time. I came across the link two days ago, and have since been just about obsessed.
It may be the smartest libretto I’ve heard; can’t wait to read it. The melding of styles — from rap through hip-hop through R&B through standard Broadway ballads — is flat-out genius, and they are weaved together so masterfully that I think it may make some of those types feel accessible to people who may be stuck in their ideas of what constitutes a Broadway score. It smartly references classic shows such as South Pacific, Pirates of Penzance, and Jesus Christ Superstar. The multi-racial cast works beautifully; the founding fathers’ story is part of all of our history. Immigration, womens’ rights, the 1% — so many current issues can be seen and foreseen in this historical tale. It feels like a master class in creating dramatic tension with book, music, and lyrics.
I’ve been to a lot of shows over a lot of years, both Broadway and touring companies, and this feels like a sea change. Julianne Escobedo Shepherd’s post asking whether one should listen to this before seeing the show is tone-deaf; as I commented there, that reflects typical NYC myopia. I’m envious of those there who have a chance to see it — I hope they do, and I hope they love it. I’d love to come to NYC just for this, I think it would be well worth the trip. But we have the chance to hear it now, why wait? This is important. People will be changed. It is momentous.
If you get the chance, try the first three songs — from the opener through “My Shot.” This NPR page is likely to come down before Saturday, when the full recording will be available for purchase on iTunes. The CD will be released on October 16 (2-disc set).