On Independence Day Eve, almost anyone can get a front row seat to “Hamilton.” It’s truly an American dream.
The filmed performance of the cultural juggernaut about the inaugural secretary of the Treasury will arrive on the Disney+ streaming service July 3, a year before its intended theatrical release. To celebrate the occasion of this very American musical’s now wide availability to the American people, here’s an overview of the Forward’s many years of “Hamilton” coverage.
In 2016, we had the inside story on the show’s prehistory, with a profile of creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s high school American History teacher. Yet while “Hamilton” was a scholarly exercise, steeped as much in history as hip-hop homage, it succeeded for many by striking an emotional chord. Forward culture editor Adam Langer, an admitted “Hamilton” skeptic, wrote about how the show made him a believer. And as the world turned upside down and people took out second mortgages to get tickets, Stuart Isacof asked what the musical had to teach the People of the Book.
The singular appeal of “Hamilton” reached religious heights, spawning Haggadot and Hanukkah music videos. Those with a passion for history learned about Ron Chernow, Hamilton’s Jewish biographer who advised the show’s development, courtesy of JTA.
After the Trump presidency implemented its travel ban and unyielding immigration policy in the early days of 2017, “Hamilton” was increasingly seen as a rousing commentary on the contributions immigrants have made to our republic. Meanwhile, a briefly-tenured White House staffer likened Jared Kushner to the show’s polymath subject, and an expert in constitutional law defended Kushner’s nepotistic position in government with Hamilton’s words.
In 2018, as Miranda gamely ventured forth to provide more content to his insatiable public, debuting a new song with music by a Jewish Broadway icon. And with the May announcement of the planned Disney+ broadcast, we gathered a list of Revolutionary War-themed TV and film to binge in anticipation of its July arrival.
But while we were thrilled by this streaming windfall, we were unprepared for an even better late May surprise. Our excitement reached a rapturous pitch with the news that “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail was planning a “Fiddler on the Roof” film. We got so worked up we even dreamed up our ideal cast, giving a prime spot to “Hamilton” alum and 2016 Forward 50 honoree Daveed Diggs.
With July 4 falling on Shabbat this year, many may choose to reflect on our nation’s course and the never-ending fight to ensure that those self-evident words “all men are created equal” are reflected in our systems of government. “Hamilton” and its multiracial, progressive and musically bold vision of our founders — whose legacies we are currently reckoning with — will remain in the conversation for years to come.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
What to read before you stream the “Hamilton” movie