Hamilton Movie … Did you Know?

Rather than write a review of the Hamilton movie (although if I had it would have been a solid 5 stars) I’ve decided to put together a post on all of the interesting facts, beautiful moments and more about the show and the movie. I love peeling back layers within shows so do let me know in the comments about any I had missed!

The Set!

– The set was designed by David Korins who wanted the set to look unfinished. He said the story was about people ‘upon which the country was built, so you see wooden period scaffolding around a half made wall to show a kind of aspirational space.’

– The turntables on the set were inspired by the whirlwind of history that sweeps up Hamilton as well as the literal Hurricane that hits the Caribbean island where Hamilton was born.

– The set changes between the acts. The rifles hanging on the walls are replaced with quills and parchment as ‘the war is over and it’s now time to govern.’ The brick walls behind the scaffolding also get 8 feet taller as ‘the country is progressing and the foundation is getting bigger.’

– For the cabinet battle the mics show up in wooden boxes in the same way that muskets used to.

– The set and costumes are similar in so far as they are period on the bottom and modern on top.

– The desk is a faithful reproduction of Alexander Hamilton’s writing table, fortified to withstand actors jumping on it.

Chorography:

– Hamilton is choregraphed by Andy Blankenbuehler. Like the music there are repeated themes throughout the show. One of these appears in My Shot where they start in second position, a strong position like the American people at the time. The phrase is repeated in Right Hand Man and right at the end of the show. You can find tutorials by Andy on this motif on YouTube.

– Helpless/Satisfied started off as a formal traditional gavotte but they are only touching with their hands in this dance. They start in Helpless/Satisfied in touching palms and then about 20 seconds later they are grinding as they want to do more than touch hands.

– Watch how Hamilton and Burr moves. Burr moves in straight lines as he sees no other options whereas Hamilton moves in arcs as he sees all possibilities.

– During Satisfied the rewind section literally rewinds portions of the choreography from Helpless.

Characters:

– The reason for casting Lafayette/Jefferson and Laurens/Philip as the same actor is that Lin realised that the characters that were important in Hamilton’s early life fade away whilst others appear later so that you would be instantly invested in the character.

Costume:

– Colours are really important. Hamilton was in green for money and the leads stand out with other pops of colour. The ensemble were in creamy tones, like parchment paper.

– Jefferson’s costume is a homage to Prince. Jefferson is portrayed as a larger than life rock star and this kind of style spoke directly to Prince.

The Songs:

– Hamilton contains on average 144 words a minute and if it was sung at the rate of other Broadway shows it would take 4-6 hours to perform.

– In the original version of My Shot Mulligan had an extra verse. This got cut but some of the lyrics ended up in Yorktown.

– In Schuyler Sisters he run at the end of the song was added between off Broadway and Broadway so that the 3 actresses could ‘flex.’,

– You’ll be Back gives a musical nod to British greats The Beatles with Penny Lane and Getting Better.

– In Helpless can you spot the nod to Ja Rule. The song mimics his duet with Ashanti. Notice the last couple of lines of Hamilton’s rap in particular when Lin mimics Ja Rules’ growling cadence.

– Lin Manuel Miranda came up with Wait For It on the Subway and You’ll Be Back on his Honeymoon. During the credits, the locations during the special thanks show the places that Hamilton were written in.

– Meet Me Inside is the only song written in 7/8 time as he Lin wanted it ‘raggedy.’

– Guns and Ships has the fastest verse in Hamilton with 6.3 words a second.

– Hamilton features one scene that isn’t on the OCR. It takes place between Dear Theodosia and non-stop and it is when Hamilton finds out that Laurens has been killed. Lin Manuel Miranda wanted there to be at least 1 revelation in the show.

– Hamilton during the show says he won’t tempt theatre superstition by saying he won’t name the Scottish play and then names Macbeth in the next line. From that moment on Hamilton’s life starts going downhill.

– When Jefferson replies Frances to Madison’s question, ‘Where Have You Been,’ Daveed actually improvised that response and it stayed in.

– Say No To This – Lin Manuel Miranda asked the permission of Jason Robert Brown to directly quote from The Last 5 Years Song, Nobody Needs To Know.

– Lin himself suggests pausing the show during Hurricane on the second chorus – you’ll spot King George, red coats, Alexander Hamilton’s mother, Maria Reynolds and Burr. He describes it as a ‘CAT scan of his brain.’

– Burns – I love how multilayered the lyrics in the song is. Not only does the word burn describe how Hamilton made Eliza feel but also the literal way Eliza burns the love letters that first won her heart. Each of those letters that she burns is a manuscript of a letter from Hamilton to her.

– During Quiet Uptown, Angelica takes over the narration. As the loss is too great for Hamilton and Eliza, they can’t speak for themselves so Angelica speaks for them.

The Bullet Ensemble track –

– We first meet the bullet after You’ll Be Back and she has her neck snapped.

– Stay Alive is the first time we see the ensemble character who plays the bullet fully step into this role. From now on she becomes the person associated with death.

– The bullet character is always aiming for Hamilton – look how closely she is placed next to him during 10 Dual Commandments.

– During Yorktown notice who Laurens shares a look with just before his death.

– The bullet track only has 2 spoken lines and one of them tells Philip where to find George so he can challenge him to the fateful dual.

– Just before ‘Your Obedient Servant the ensemble member that pulls the desk on stage and hands Burr the quill so he can write those fateful letters is the bullet.

– After Hamilton has been shot notice how the bullet joins the other ensemble members as if her destiny is now complete.

History:

– There was actually 12 Schuyler Sisters – I don’t feel so sorry for Peggy now, I feel for the 9 that were cut!

– In non stop Burr states that Hamilton wrote 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers. This is true but it leaves out the details that he did not do it alone and Eliza, being well educated and the daughter of a politician helped.

– Slavery is addressed head on in Hamilton. Jefferson was a slave owner and the first time we meet Jefferson at the top of act 2 we see people scrubbing floors.

Cinematography:

Can you spot the cast members that are on stage even for the solo moments, this is because history always has it’s eyes on you.

– Watch out for the close up on Angelica during ‘Helpless’ when she says ‘I’ll Leave You To It.’

– Look at Peggys face when Angelica suggests they could share him.

– Keep an eye out for a pamphlet being handed to Alex Lacamoire during the Reynolds Pamphlet as well as the close up on Phillip reading it.

If you liked this article you might also like my review of Hamilton, my look at the song Burn and who sang it better and a review of the cheeky parody musical about Lewis Hamilton.

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