by Genevieve Mellott
It sounds like a scene out of a fictitious Hollywood film: a poor nobody claws his way up to political fame through hard work and virtue and is slaughtered by his arch rival in cold blood. The rival morosely lives out his days forever known as the man who killed an American legend. Only it’s not fictitious, and it’s a Broadway musical, not a blockbuster movie.
Many of us will not have the opportunity to attend this play in New York. But you can see it on Independence Day for far less. On Friday, July 3, Disney releases the Emmy Award-winning hit Hamilton on Disney+. It’s a show that blends historical fact with contemporary culture in a way that will make your kids scream, “I love history!”
If you’re in need of a high school history refresher, Alexander Hamilton was an influencer, to use current terminology, and politician who campaigned to get the Constitution ratified. A Federalist who was close to George Washington, he despised the moral character, or lack thereof, of Democratic-Republican Aaron Burr and published letters to that effect. The contention became so bad that Burr ultimately challenged Hamilton to a duel. As the legend goes, at 7 AM on July 11, 1804, Hamilton decided the duel was wrong and shot into the air, after which Burr shot Hamilton, leading to his death a day later.
The play is a multi-ethnic, musical smorgasbord that retells the story while both overtly and subtly celebrating truly American concepts. Written by and starring Lin Manuel Miranda, who may be familiar from Disney’s Moana, Hamilton is based on the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It was originally filmed on Broadway in 2016 but was slated to be released in 2021. Now that Disney has decided to wow us early, we can enjoy some quality time together while celebrating the anniversary of our nation. If you have Disney+, consider inviting some Covid-free friends over for a socially distant watch party. If you have been thinking about getting a subscription, now is the time.
If the price of a Disney+ subscription seems steep, consider this: the annual cost is less than half the price of one mid-week, nosebleed ticket to Hamilton on Broadway. The “+” in Disney+ means you get this experience, and the rest of the year is a bonus.