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It's been five years since Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton debuted on Broadway and in that time you'd be forgiven for feeling like you're the only person who hasn't seen it, assuming of course you're not one of the people that has. The passion for this particular musical has been stronger than anything of its kind in recent memory. Even half a decade later, with Miranda having hung up the wig, it's still the biggest thing on Broadway. Or at least, it would be if there was anything currently on Broadway.
But then that's why a filmed production of Hamilton hitting Disney+ may be one of the best decisions to come out of this whole mess. Filmed in 2016 with the original Broadway cast, now it costs no more than a month subscription to Disney+ to finally see what all the fuss is about regarding Hamilton, and based on reviews, yes, you need to see what all the fuss is about.
CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell gave the movie a perfect five stars, and says that while it's not really the same as sitting in a Broadway theater, that minor difference isn't enough to take away from what is otherwise a great experience.
At the end of the day, this is Hamilton, as performed by the original Broadway cast, which means it’s brilliant.
Hamilton on Disney+ is a somewhat rare animal. While we're used to seeing Hollywood adaptations of stage musicals, this is just the stage musical, with cameras catching every moment. The only changes have been the removal of a couple of F-bombs to hit a PG-13 film rating. In some ways, this means you have the best seat in the house because you won't miss anything important. However, the show was still performed for the stage, and the translation from stage to screen isn't perfect. NPR points out that the music is a bit less polished in live performance than it is if you're only familiar with listening to the cast album. And while seeing some of the staging up close will give long time fans a new appreciation of it, some of it doesn't work quite as well up close. But again, details...
On the whole, absolutely, positively, there is new insight and new excitement here for people who already know that they love this show, and even for those who have stayed away from the album.
In the end, Hamilton could have gotten away with a camera pointed at a stage. If the musical is the point, that would get the job done. But the Chicago Tribune points out that the fact that the movie we're seeing is actually a combination of two live performances, along with incidental material filmed separately, allows everything to come together in a way that is designed for the medium of film.
In most filmed versions of live experiences, you’re conscious of a disconnect between the scale of performances aimed at the back of the house and the needs of the camera. That is shrewdly avoided here, even in the case of Jonathan Groff’s outre King George, thanks to the careful and generally seamless interpolation of close-ups filmed later.
In the end, it seems that whether you've seen Hamilton on stage before or not, you're in for a treat. The show really is that good. Specifically, THR sings the praises of Leslie Odom Jr. who plays Aaron Burr. The man has a historically dark role to play in the story, but he is never the bad guy...
Audiences seeing this cast for the first time will be bowled over by the depth of the performances, notably so with Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr, the politically ambitious also-ran who feels the hand of Hamilton in his every failure. Odom never allows him to become the mere villain of the piece.
It seems that, whether you're a long time fan of Hamilton or if you've stayed away, the show really is everything you've been promised. Hamilton arrives on Disney+ on July 3.