If you haven't seen Hamilton then go and watch Hamilton. Now that the original cast recording is available on Disney+ there really isn't any excuse and the show is utterly phenomenal. The direction is excellent, the set design is brilliant, the actors are phenomenal, the story is tightly weaved and riveting, and the songs – my god, the songs! – are utterly exceptional. That the production is also pretty historically accurate is just the cherry on the extremely delicious cake. I genuinely don't think there's a bad beat from an artistic perspective.
Which brings me on to the rating. That this is a 5+ star production isn't in doubt, but I've gone back and forth over whether it's 5.5 or 6 star worthy. My own criteria for six stars is that "there is nothing wrong with it and it is culturally unique or important". Hamilton passes that first test with flying colours, but is it culturally unique? No. Culturally important? I think so. I know the show has come under some criticism – particularly in recent times – for potentially white-washing the American revolution (or even rich-white-washing it), as well as leaving out Hamilton's own ties to slavery, but having read around those complaints I remain unconvinced. That the Revolution was a more nuanced story, with many more people involved, should be obvious; that Hamilton presents a specific window into a single person's life, though, should also be obvious. Slavery, women's rights, and other big ethical issues are blatantly mentioned and discussed but weren't front-and-centre to the real Hamilton's life either.
Whereas, on the other hand, the show has an almost entirely non-white cast, meaning that we get to see characters like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington played by people of colour in a major Broadway and international hit. From a musical perspective, it brings a diverse cultural background to a classically staid medium, and does so brilliantly. And off stage, the cast and crew have consistently spoken out, used their fame and spotlight incredibly well, and championed a variety of causes from helping to rebuild Puerto Rico to raising over a $1million for the fight to end racial inequality in the US. On top of which, they've arguably had a huge effect on the wider theatre industry, inciting a level of acclaim and publicity that hasn't happened for a long time.
Combine that level of cultural impact with the – and I cannot stress this enough – utterly awe-inspiring performances and I have to conclude that Hamilton (and particularly this production of the show) is a slam dunk. Every single member of the main cast would be a standout in any other show. Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Jefferson) is wonderfully energetic and comedic; Okieriete Onaodowan (Mulligan/Madison) flips between his extremely different roles incredibly well; Anthony Ramos (Laurens/Hamilton Jr) gives a stirring performance (and has to die twice 😂); Chris Jackson is Washington re-embodied; Renee Goldsberry plays a brilliantly intellectual Angelica and what a voice!; she contrasts perfectly with a powerhouse performance from Phillipa Soo as Eliza, particularly in her final solo which just jams emotion in every note; Jonathan Groff (Glee) turns a parody of King George into a brilliant comedic twist; the incredible Leslie Odom Jr. as Burr who is just wondrous to watch throughout; and then you have the main man, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who may not have the strongest voice of the cast but whose performance is just stunning to watch. Exceptional.
Just exceptional. Throughout.