This is an exciting submission from Ariel Parrella-Aureli as it captures the essence of Meade Magazine. Submitted by a United States Journalism student it captures the passion and the future of Hamilton as well as those who will lead the way as thought leaders and “journos” A big thank you from both sides of the pond.
By now nearly everyone has heard of Hamilton, the how that is merging two American staples: Broadway and hip-hop. It is grabbing the attention of both Millennials and Boomers, and raising questions as to the most effective way to teach history. Who knew that Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s wife, opened the first private orphanage in New York City? Not me, nor did I know he was an immigrant from the Caribbean—something most people don’t know about the Founding Father. But thanks to Hamilton, I now am well versed in the American Revolution.
Written, performed and composed by the genius Lin-Manuel Miranda and inspired by the biographical book on Hamilton by Ron Cher now, the musical follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of Treasury and “the ten dollar Founding Father”. The musical first opened at The Public Theater in New York in January 2015 before moving to the Richard Rodgers Theater on Broadway in July, starting the ever-growing popularity of the shows that cast non traditionally, allowing for a retelling of history through more modern eyes. One of its biggest reasons for the popularity seems to be the infusion of hip-hop thanks to the masterful work of musical genius Questlove from The Roots. As of May 25, the soundtrack was at No. 11 on iTunes and is the number 1 cast album on the Billboard charts for 34 straight weeks since September 2015.
On a more personal note, after more than a year and a half, I am happy that the Hamilton frenzy is only growing, thanks in part to so many wins at the recent Tony Awards as well as a Pulitzer and a Grammy. Hamilton is getting hip-hop fans, theater fans and history fans crying, laughing and shivering—a musical that hasn’t gotten this much national praise since “The Book of Mormon” in 2011, according to David Herendeen, director of Opera and Musical Theater at Oklahoma City University.
“It is a very intelligent show, smartly organized. It is a culmination of very thoughtful hard work,” Herendeen said. “The history of the Founding Fathers is so rich—they were everybody’s Founding Fathers.”
Susan Weinstein, an associate professor in the English Department at Louisiana State University specializing in utilizing hip-hop to teach English, agrees stating that, “Learning styles from historically marginalized groups, it’s clear that pop culture is one of the ways that kids will be engaged and for some number of kids coming up in the last decade or so, hip-hop is that really special thing.”
Even historians agree that Hamilton is a big deal. Todd Andrlik an American Revolution historian, author and the founder and Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of the American Revolution, an online magazine for consumers of American history isn’t taking this lightly. Academic historians are known for being sticklers with anything that transcends pop culture because their utmost concern is the accuracy of the portrayal, Andrlik said, “the production is a special combination of art and historical accuracy—unlike other American Revolution works, like the 2000 film “The Patriot” or AMC’s “Turn.”
And that’s exactly what it has done. Miranda has made history edgy, fun and accessible. Paying homage to an often forgotten Founding Father and utilizing a cutting edge narrative technique allowing a story of the past to be told through the lens of today.
Ariel Parrella-Aureli: “Whether fiction or truth, I love sharing stories and broadening people’s horizons. As a journalism student at Columbia College Chicago and reporter for my college newspaper The Columbia Chronicle, Chicago is my writing canvas. I have matured my journalism skills while taking in the city as a dog walker, my other job. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @ariellafelice, and if you want to be extra nosey, my other work can be found at columbiachronicle.com.”