The Popularity of Hamilton: An American Musical

Hamilton: An American Musical has been very successful as of today. While not being a hundred percent accurate to history, the musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, and how he immigrated to America, made friends, married, joined the revolution as the right-hand man to George Washington, served as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury under Washington’s presidency, dealt with his affair and lastly, his deadly duel. The founding father is also known as the face of the 10-dollar bill.

There are multiple factors playing into the success of the musical, the most obvious being the style of music. Usually, musicals in theatres were rather classic, but Hamilton, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, was one of the first plays to introduce a hybrid of hip-hop, rap, pop and jazz to the classic theatre in 2015. In 2015, this was not completely unknown, but rather unusual as none of these musicals had major success like Hamilton. However, it seemed to have paid off, as it integrated these music styles into the world of musical and are now more commonly used. Signalled by the use of hip-hop and rap, the target audience of Hamilton is not your ordinary, upper-middle-class (and above) family, but the youth.

Another way to attract the youth to musicals was Hamilton’s publication to the streaming platform Disney+ in July 2020. At this point, Hamilton was only being performed in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The only other way to access the musical was either to solely listen to the soundtrack on streaming platforms like Spotify or to watch bootlegs on YouTube, which are not entirely legal and often of poor quality. With its publication on Disney+, the musical got more accessible to a variety of people and started to gain more success in other countries as well. It got so famous, that the play is currently being translated into German to be held in Hamburg in September 2022 (if the corona situation has calmed down by then).

Lastly, the musical is notoriously famous for its story-telling. It is not only telling the story of the founding father but the story is told by the American people. The Broadway cast is largely made up of actors who are African-American, Latinx, Chinese-American or of another marginalised ethnicities. While they tell what is called “white history”, the multiculturalism of the cast attracts people that feel represented by the musical and makes it interesting for people of many cultures. Yet again, this is seen as it is performed in Canada, Australia and, as mentioned before, currently being translated into German to perform, while being an “An American Musical”.

Author: Leonie Thomas