I got Ron Chernow’s acclaimed book, Alexander Hamilton, a few years ago for my husband, who is quite a history buff. A large book, it took him a while to read (Mr. H. says he reads a book a year, this one maybe a bit more), and as the book accompanied him on airplanes and the local commuter train (pre-COVID) it may have contributed to a few backaches. But, our dinner-table and dog-walking discussions became more interesting as he read of Hamilton’s six years developing the financial system of the USA, taking our fledging nation from near bankruptcy to prosperity, and establishing the credit system and our own US currency.
The book has sat on my “to read” shelf, which is kin to a rabbit hutch, for a couple of years, as I’ve picked up all sorts of best-sellers I couldn’t resist from Costco, and second-hand treasures from Good Will. Books I can carry easily and read quickly are always more tempting than a three-pound historical novel. But last May, as my substitute teaching ended for the season, I thought it was time to add it to the rotation. I haven’t made it through the Revolutionary War years, but I’m looking forward to completing it.
We were both excited when we heard Hamilton was coming to the Fox Theater. It opened last week, and we got tickets mid-week.
We enjoyed being back at the Fox! It had been a long while for us, we weren’t sure when we’d last been there. I enjoyed taking pictures of the theater, even though we couldn’t take photos of the show, of course. There’s so much beautiful detail that you don’t see in newer buildings. It appears that they’ve done some respectful restoration and conservation.
The show was amazing, with lots of lively music. (I didn’t think I liked Hip Hop!) The tune for King George, “You’ll Be Back” and a couple of reprises, had a sort of cool 60’s Beatles-like vibe. The lead roles had great voices and I could almost always understand the words. The costuming was quite creative, with white pants and vests/corsets for the chorus–women could add a vest and military jacket to play a soldier, or a skirt to play a female character. Boots to town shoes showed a change from wartime to peace time in our young country. It was an exciting way to learn a lot of American History.
I was a little disappointed that the play glossed over Alexander Hamilton’s early years in Nevis, British West Indies, and St. Croix, but that would have necessitated an extensive scene change, and as the book says, not a lot of hard records remain. He and his brother James, had a hard early life and went separate paths at age 14 and 16, after their mother died. James became a carpenter. Alexander clerked for New York traders, while reading and studying everything he could find. His aptitude was noticed and a benefactor (or perhaps several) helped him go to Boston for his education. There’s an amusing story in the book of how he selected his college, as well.
I will keep reading, as the book will certainly be more detailed than the play, but the music of the play was wonderful. I plan to look for a streamed version of the musical, released July 3, 2020, by Walt Disney Pictures, filmed at the Richard Rogers Theatre on Broadway in 2016. I hope you’ll be able to see it too…or go ahead and start reading the book!