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The Revolutionary Phenomenon

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The Revolutionary Phenomenon

Kenna Smith, Features Reporter

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Many people, when asked about the man on the $10 bill used, to respond with “I don’t know”. However, within the past two years, many people now know who’s on the $10 bill. It just so happens to be the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, whose name, now thanks to the hit Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical, is now very well known.

Hamilton follows the life of the show’s namesake, Alexander Hamilton, a founding father ‘who caught beef with every other founding father all on the strength of his writing’. The show itself pushes two main concepts that its author Lin-Manuel Miranda wanted to be clear- the “story of America then told by America now” and that you lack control over “who lives, who dies, and who tells your story.”

But what makes it so interesting?

Starting with the actual music. The soundtrack is incredibly recognizable. Compared to other musicals, Hamilton’s music style (rap, hip-hop, and R&B) is similar to popular television shows, such as Empire. It’s also noticeably easier to sign along to Hamilton compared to other musicals, which tend to consistently have higher notes and less catchy tunes.

The show has 12 main actors, and 11 of them aren’t of a white ethnicity. The only character written specifically for a Caucasian actor is King George III. This casting choice was not only intentional but purposeful, giving opportunity actors of all cultures. In doing so, the show celebrates the vast diversity of America now by telling the story of America then.

“Our cast looks like America now”, said Miranda. “It’s a way of pulling you into the story and allowing you to leave whatever cultural baggage you have about the founding fathers at the door.”

The show also influenced the choice to redesign the $20 bill. Originally, the U.S. Department of the Treasury planned on removing Hamilton from the $10 and putting a woman from American history in his place. However, due to the sheer popularity of Hamilton, former United States Treasury Secretary Jack Lew revised the plan to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

The show also has impacted education. History teachers are now able to use the show to help students engage in subjects that are often found snooze-worthy.

“He was a super-inspiring person who took advantage of his brilliant mind and changed the world for the better,” said one student. “The musical aspect made it a lot more fun, and easier to learn about Alexander Hamilton.”

Hamilton has become a cultural phenomenon through various means, with the most noticeable being it’s diverse cast, easily understood lyrics (unless it’s Guns and Ships, which is now the fastest song in Broadway history), and it’s noticeable impacts on education and even the federal government. The show’s central idea is to confront the traditional American storyteller’s perspective and its influences on America’s accepted history. That is why Hamilton: An American Musical is so popular.

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The Revolutionary Phenomenon