(Authors note - This post contains spoilers of the Hamilton musical and Original Broadway Cast Recording. You’re going to want to listen to the cast recording—trust me on this—so if the spoilers will bother you, listen to it first and then come back. Although, if you want to avoid being blindsided by some of the heart ripping moments and don’t want to end up in traffic or on an airplane ugly sobbing and hiccupping during Act 2, maybe you should go ahead and read this first for a heads up. I mean, it’s totally up to you buuuut, I’m just sayin. - P)
Have you heard of the Hamilton musical? If you are someone that knows me outside of the internet, I have probably asked this of you, in wide-eyed, breathless wonder, in the last month or so. And, even if you only know me via social media, chances are you’ve gotten a DM, IM, text or email from me, asking the same question, chock full of exclamation points and heart eye emoji’s. In fact, there’s a few people out there that don’t know me at all who have been preached the gospel of Hamilton just because they were standing too closely and I started addressing them, too, just because. ( Ahem, sorry about that, stranger people; I’ve been overly excited. Apologies and whatnot.) Well, the time has come for me to turn my mania on you, H&H fam! Buckle up!
So, have you heard of Hamilton? For the uninitiated, it’s a musical that tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton through a combination of rap, hip-hop, traditional show tunes and pop songs. It has appeal if you are a fan of musical theater, a hip-hop fan, a fan of history, a fan of amazing, brilliant, genius writing, a fan of beautiful people (seriously, the cast is gorgeous!) and/or anything in between all of those things. You can look all over the internet for gushing, enthusiastic, love letter-like posts to the show itself, the creator (Lin-Manuel Miranda), the actors, the cast recording, the biography that spawned the musical (Hamilton by Ron Chernow) and all things related to the production. But this is Heroes and Heartbreakers and so I am here to talk to you about your reason to love it; the love story..or stories, as the case may actually be!
I have not yet seen the musical but I have been listening to the cast recording Non-Stop for weeks now. The beauty of the cast recording is that most of the dialogue in the play is sung through so, with the exception of one scene in the play that did not make it onto the album, you are able to follow the entire story of the play just by listening. You get to hear Alexander’s history and many of the key points in history that he was responsible for and/or a part of but you also get to hear the incredible story of the relationship between him and his wife Elizabeth Hamilton (the woman was a saint! More on that later!). “EliiIIIIzaaa” (when you listen, you’ll get it!), as he called her, is one of the Schuyler sisters that meet Alexander at a Winter’s Ball. She is almost immediately Helpless(ly) in love with Alexander, from the moment they are introduced.
Eliza: Boy, you got me Helpless
Look into your eyes and the sky’s the limit
I’m helpless, down for the count and drownin in ‘em
Through the course of the show, their relationship goes through many stages, from beautiful to brutal. Alexander is driven and focused and always eager to prove himself and Eliza is there to support him. Alexander, an immigrant orphan, wants to make a name for himself and b be a provider, even though it Eliza just wants to have him home and safe with her and their children; “That Would Be Enough.”
Alexander: “Will you relish being a poor man’s wife, unable to provide for your life?”
Eliza: “I’d relish being your wife”
We ride the roller coaster of their love from the first moment they lock eyes through the birth of their first child, all with the Revolutionary War as a backdrop in Act 1. In general, their story in Act 1 is one of goodness and hope and fun and all things wonderful and hearts will fly out of your chest over their love.
But then, Act 2 arrives. And, the relationship has to weather some storms. Eliza tries to get Alexander to Take a Break but his pursuit of a lasting legacy won’t allow it, which leads to a shocking betrayal. A secret indiscretion that becomes public and threatens to Burn down everything that Eliza and Alexander have built together. Until, something even more tragic happens. Seriously, have tissues for Act 2. If you don’t shed tears, I hate to be the one to tell you, but you might actually be a robot. Tragic, unfortunate events abound in Act 2. But, even through the rough patches and bumps in the road, the love story continues. The last song speaks to the never ending love between Alexander and Eliza, which endured long after his death and gave purpose to her, many remaining years and answers the question, ”Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story. “
Eliza - “And I’m still not through
I ask myself, ‘What would you do if you had more time?’
The Lord, in his kindness
He give me what you always wanted
He gives me more Time”
Theirs was a beautiful love and Hamilton, while spending much time on Alexander’s wartime and political exploits, does a wonderful job of chronicling their story.
Ah, but I mentioned that there are love stories told through the songs. Enter Angelica Schuyler, Eliza’s beloved older sister. Nearly every song on the cast recording sent me on a research mission to look up the truth behind the music. Though there was some creative license taken with some aspects of the musical, the bulk of the production is based in fact. Including, it seems, the special relationship between Alexander and his sister-in-law. In the musical, she meets Alexander the same night as her sister and they both find themselves attracted to him.
Angelica: …I’ll never forget the first time I saw your face
I have never been the same
Intelligent eyes in a hunger pang frame
And when you said “Hi”, I forgot my dang name
Set my heart aflame, every part aflame
In reality, Angelica was already married when Eliza and Alexander met, but it does seem that she did possibly have more than sisterly feelings for Alexander. And, depending on what historical references you consult, theirs was anything from a special, close friendship to a full blown scandalous affair, that Eliza forgave them for because of her love for them both (remember I mentioned her being a saint?). Whatever the truth of actual events, the affection between Angelica and Alexander is played out so wonderfully within the play, along with the love between the two sisters. Angelica is a powerhouse character in the musical and has, arguably, one of the greatest songs on the entire recording with ”Satisfied." It’s both beautiful and tragic. Though I’ve told you to have tissues for Act 2, you might shed a tear or two once the full implication of that song hits you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
I honestly could say so much more but, in truth, I want you to go listen and experience it all for yourself! The love story is just one aspect of the play. It is a masterpiece that appeals to so many different interests. But, if you’re looking for a good satisfying piece of writing where love wins, you need to listen to Hamilton. Soon. And then come back here to talk to me about it. Seriously. I want to fangirl over it with you. So hurry up and listen!