If you read the last post from Mrs. Kozi referencing Hamilton, then you’ll probably enjoy this one from Mr. Kozi.
“How does a hip-hop, rap-sung musical from Broadway /
Cross generations and genres so flawless- /
-ly? Entertaining and inspiring young minds and old /
With beguiling rhymes and lyrics so bold? /
Change the very paradigm and expectation /
Of every new show’s audience engagement /
Knowing every subsequent installment will be gauged /
Against the new higher standard that Lin-Manuel has made?”
That’s all I’ve got… Admittedly it’s not all that good. Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of the toughest acts to follow, lyrically speaking. But it was fun to try to parody him (poorly) for my own benefit, even for a moment. Listening to the soundtrack of what’s potentially the most culturally-influential musical of the last two decades (or more, depending on whom you ask) and being thus inspired tends to do that to you. Or at least, it should.
I credit my wife for really introducing me to the incredibly enriching world that is musical theatre. Oh, I’d sung a Broadway staple or two in my time, especially in high school (the “Les Mis” medley comes readily to mind – thanks for that, Dr. B!). But not until Mrs. Kozi took me to see my first legitimate Broadway show, circa 2007 (shout out to the FSCJ Visiting Artist Series!), did I begin to develop an understanding for, and ultimately a deep appreciation of, the art that is the stage musical.
Fast forward to early 2017 and the Chicago-resident cast of Hamilton, featuring guest artist Wayne Brady playing the role of the titular character’s good-friend-turned-arch-nemesis Aaron Burr, playing in the ever-so-cozy PrivateBank Theatre. This is where, quite possibly, I had my epiphany that “Hamilton” was indeed *the* generation-defining musical show of the 21st century thus far.
“Hamilton” won 11 Tony Awards for the 2016 Broadway season. That’s a massive amount of accolades – for any production in any medium. The attention and press it received, both inside the musical theatre community and in the ‘mainstream,’ was unprecedented in the 21st Century. Indeed, some critics are heaping such praise upon Lin-Manuel Miranda’ artistry and genius; some going so far as to say he is the comparable William Shakespeare of our time.
Now, some folks might balk at that analogy. After all, Shakespeare was well, Shakespeare. The Grandmaster-est of all literary Grand Masters. Second maybe only to the O.G. of rhythmic verse himself, Homer. But c’mon – a contemporary composer and playwright that entwines elements of Hip Hop and history? As a contemporary Shakespeare?
Well – why not? Understand, one of the oldest memories of western history, the aforementioned Homer’s best-known “Odyssey”, was something like 12,000 lines of verse chanted rhythmically (dactylic hexameter – thanks, Wikipedia!), accentuated with drum, flute, and lyre. Miranda’s “Hamilton” masterfully encapsulates the best artistic intricacies of modern Western music, lyrics, and culture, and spins them into a sort of artistic snapshot in time: a reflective cross-section of the society and culture from which it sprang. Just like Homer and Shakespeare arguably did in their time.
Chanting history from the griots of West Africa, to Greece’s Homer, to the verse of England’s William Shakespeare, modern America now has Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”.
And how lucky we all are to be alive right now, to witness perhaps the greatest artistic opus of our lifetime come to fruition and success, and encapsulate everything that is right and beautiful in our lives – however seemingly devoid of such things though they may seem in these uneasy and turbulent times.
History just happened in Manhattan, and we just happened to see the greatest show in the world. And thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda, our lives are that much richer and full and complete.
Thoughts are our own and we receive no compensation for them.