Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

Book Summary
Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country's origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages--"since before this was even a show," according to Miranda--traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don't throw away their shot.

Flo's Review
My fiance always makes fun of me because I am kinda obsessed with special features on DVDs. I will buy or not buy movies based on what extras they can show me. I just think it's really cool to see the behind the scenes, see the actors as people and not just their characters, see how the world-building translated from book or screenplay, and so forth. So when I saw that there was a book about my new obsession Hamilton, I wanted to read it right away.

I really enjoyed it. There were two elements. First, all the lyrics for the musical numbers were included. But in addition to those, Lin added notes in the margins. It was like reading an annotated book from the author. I was fascinated! I loved hearing more about the history, Lin's thought process, behind the scenes tidbits, and such. The other element was the story of how the play came to be, and more about the actors. These were interspersed throughout the musical numbers, so you never got bogged down in one element or the other. It was set up very nicely and made this big book very easy to fly through. My other favorite part was all the pictures of the play. Having never seen the play, I really liked seeing how things were actually staged and how they appear on stage. I also enjoyed the little surprise that's in the book and play, and not the cast recording CD.

If you are a Hamilton fan, I think you will really enjoy this. And if you are not a Hamilton fan, this could easily become your way in. Either way, it was fun and definitely worth picking up! 

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