As part of Fallcoming/Family Weekend, a preview of PBS’ documentary Hamilton’s America was screened at the Chapel on Oct. 6. This film features behind-the-scenes making of the Hamilton musical leading to its unprecedented success on Broadway.
Before the screening, Rand Scholet, president of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, talked about his intensive research, which involved going through over 34 books on Alexander Hamilton and studying 47 other important political figures at the time. At the end of his research, Scholet determined that Hamilton was George Washington’s “indispensable partner during 22 years as a Founding Father.”
“Alexander Hamilton contributed to the foundation and vision upon which United States achieved greatness,” said Scholet, “and likewise the Hamilton musical has created a revolution on Broadway.”
The entire presentation of Hamilton’s America is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21, at 9 p.m., as part of the PBS Fall Arts Festival on WCNY-TV.
One of the reasons the Hamilton musical has great appeal is that it attracts a wide-spectrum crowd: men, women, children, people of color, people of left and right political affiliations, hip-hop and rap fans as well as avid fans of classical Broadway musicals, Scholet asserted. More importantly, Hamilton has had an iconic role in expanding knowledge about Alexander Hamilton’s substantial role in establishing the core of America.
Hamilton’s America reveals that playwright, composer and leading character of the musical, Lin-Manual Miranda first got the inspiration for creating Hamilton on a vacation during which he read Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton (2004). While taking in Hamilton’s story, Miranda could see the text of this biography transforming into hip-hop lyrics.
Miranda wanted to articulate the stigmatization Hamilton felt as a 13-year-old illegitimate child suffering from poverty and how that influenced his adult life. The song about Hamilton’s childhood was composed in 2008 and was performed by Miranda at the White House in 2009 and later at the College in celebration of its bicentennial.
Alexander Horwitz, director of Hamilton’s America, started behind-the-scenes shooting in September 2013, eventually gathering 100 hours from which to edit for the creation of the 90- minute documentary.
Hamilton’s America celebrates the power of storytelling in presenting perspectives that, otherwise, remain in the shadows of history, as is strongly reaffirmed in Hamilton musical’s last line: “Who lives…Who dies…Who tells your story.”
The entire presentation of Hamilton’s America is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21, at 9 p.m., as part of the PBS Fall Arts Festival on WCNY-TV. This event was co-hosted by WCNY and the College.