It can be difficult to keep expectations in check when you’re faced with a continuous cycle of THE GREATEST THING EVER, whether it be film, tv, or stage. It’s commonplace to constantly speak in hyperbole, so much that it can be exhausting trying to figure out where the truth, or more accurately in this case, where subjective opinion really lies. Hamilton won a boatload of Tony’s, a Grammy, a Pulitzer. You’re lucky if the ticket price doesn’t include a comma. People are losing their shit over this show and I can confidently conclude the for me it is both a masterpiece and overrated.
Personally, I hate the term overrated, so I’m going to almost immediately take back what I said. Overrated seems to be a used when someone doesn’t like something that a majority of others do. It is possible to dislike something and the only explanation is you didn’t like it (for example, I think the Oscar-winning films Braveheart, The English Patient, and Gladiator are all pretty terrible). My point here is that hype can sometimes work against expectations and color interpretations. I was prepared to dislike Hamilton. I was nonplussed by the cast album when I heard it. And the hype machine made me predisposed to want to find fault. But I enjoyed it.
Setting a biography of a founding father to hip-hop stylings was a bold choice, coupled with the color-blind casting, and it’s not a show that reads well on paper. But the music is strong, the production interesting, the performances solid. It’s a great show but I’m a little surprised at how massive of a phenomenon it has become. It seems to have moved beyond the usual best show out there vibe (something Book of Mormon, Wicked, Spamalot, to name a few, all captured) to become a cultural touchstone. Good for it, but I didn’t quite connect with it the same way I have with other shows. I don’t know if that’s just because that’s the way it is or if the expectations surrounding it played any sort of factor.
My Grade – B+