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Hamilton: The Revolution [Print Replica] Kindle Edition
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|Length: 288 pages||Format: Print Replica|
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I'm fortunate enough to have seen "Hamilton" twice. I've read the Chernow biography, listened to the cast recording non-stop (ha) since September, and been an avid follower of Lin's tweets, Facebook posts, interviews, #Ham4Ham shows, and Genius annotations. I've been a musical theatre geek for five decades and have never felt this excitement about any show (with the possible exception of A Chorus Line). So when I heard months ago that Lin and former New York magazine drama critic Jeremy McCarter were putting together a book about the creation of "Hamilton," I pre-ordered my copy and started counting the days. Now it's here, and.... wow. Just wow.
Given the show's deserved status as a cultural phenomenon that will be playing to sold-out houses for years, it would have been easy to just throw together a "behind-the-scenes" book with a few interviews, toss in some publicity stills, and have a guaranteed best-seller. This "Hamiltome" couldn't be further from that. Among other delights, it includes: the full libretto of this sung-through (and rapped-through) show, with extensive annotations from LMM that give new insights, meaning, and historical context to the words that you might already know by heart; more than 30 essays about the cast members, the production team, the creative process, and the facts of Hamilton's life; copies of relevant historical documents referenced in the show; pages from LMM's notebooks with early drafts and outlines; and a stunningly beautiful array of production photographs, cast portraits, and backstage candids. And all of this is thoughtfully organized and packaged in a beautifully bound volume with ivory deckle-edged paper - a book like books used to be. (Trust me, this is one book you don't want to read on Kindle; it's actually a sensory experience to hold it and turn the pages.)
As McCarter notes in the Introduction, the title "Hamilton - The Revolution" has two meanings. There is the American Revolution that is brought to life in this show, and there is the revolution of the show itself - "a musical that changes the way that Broadway sounds, that alters who gets to tell the story of our founding, that lets us glimpse the new, more diverse America rushing our way." Do what you can to see "Hamilton," either on Broadway or when it comes to your town. It's unlike anything else. Until then, this book and the original cast recording will get you as close as possible to an orchestra seat at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
Hamilton: A Revolution is unabashedly a book that's written to capitalize on the show's popularity, as well as the difficulty in seeing it. Filled with pictures of the production, the cast, the props, and more, the book provides a bit of soothing balm for those of us out in the rest of America who probably won't ever get to see the show on Broadway, and definitely not while Miranda is still playing the lead role. The fact that the book alternates between short essays and songs from the show allows the pictures to nicely complement the text at all times, giving the reader a sense of how the show might play out, and giving us the chance to pair images with the songs that so many of us already know by heart. More than that, though, they give you a sense of the care that went into the staging of the show; from the set to the costuming, from the insanely detailed props to the intricate stage layout, the book conveys the fact that the show is every bit as carefully crafted and intricately constructed as the album and the songs.
The essays only serve to back this up, too. By and large, the essays serve as a chronological tracking of the birth of the show, beginning with Miranda's initial songs, moving through the famous White House performance, and following the story all the way through the premiere and beyond. Meanwhile, the book's structure - the aforementioned alternating between songs and essays - allows some essays to pair more directly with certain songs, focusing on key roles, casting decisions, historical craft, and more. It all comes together to make something more than your usual "behind the scenes" book, instead giving you a rich portrait of the show, the history, the key players, and more.
But let's be clear: the main draw for many people (myself included) are the lyrics and annotations by Miranda. Even with all the time I've spent on Genius reading the show's annotations can't replace the glee of reading the lyrics in a beautifully made book, and getting to savor all of Miranda's wonderful prose - the wordplay, the historical allusions, the shout-outs to old school rap and Broadway staples, all of it. And better still are Miranda's annotations, which eschew the things I already knew in favor of personal commentary, silly asides, mentions of his favorite parts of the show, and more. Rather than just being a director's commentary sort of thing, the annotations feel more personal and engaging, giving me the sense once again that Miranda isn't just unfairly brilliant; he's also funny, engaging, thoughtful, and incredibly personable.
I could also mention how beautiful the book is - not just the pictures, but the beautiful cover, the intentionally "ancient" feel that makes it feel like a Revolutionary War tome - but really, here's the thing. Do you love Hamilton? If the answer is "yes," then you'll really love this. If the answer is "no"...well, what's wrong with you, then? (Acceptable answers include "I haven't heard it" and...well, that's about it.)
Edited to add: and the dream is almost a reality... Used this gorgeous book to deliver surprise tickets to my niece who turned 18 today. I'm in New York and tonight's the night! AND, Miranda wins the Pulitzer on the same day. It's been a bit of a day!!!
Unfortunately, the Kindle version is impossible to read. Looks
like a scanned copy of the physical book. Zooming in doesn't help, the text is still super blurry.