Teenagers growing up in New York City are given the opportunity to be exposed to the many shows on Broadway. While this fun and memorable experience has always been available, no show has garnered as much popularity as Hamilton as outside of the musical theater niche—especially in young people. Its accomplishments, which include winning “Best Musical” as well as ten other Tony Awards, have people wondering what is so great about Hamilton and why the hype still has not calmed down even after two years since its Off-Broadway debut.
Hamilton is a musical created by native New Yorker, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and follows the life of one of America’s founding fathers: Alexander Hamilton. After an exposition-filled opening number, the rest of the musical goes into the details of Hamilton’s life, focusing on moments that range from having a drink with his friends to fighting in the American Revolution to his son’s graduation. However, it is not what people consider to be a classic Broadway musical, as it is extremely rap-heavy and influenced by hip-hop while still staying true to its musical theater roots.
This variety in the score is usually attributed to when analyzing the reason for Hamilton’s success. Peter Oda ’19 is a self-proclaimed “Hamiltrash,” or a big fan of the musical. He believes that Hamilton has blown up in such a way because of “how it incorporates rap references that the general population would know of and understand while incorporating such a classic story.” This versatility is what Peter, as well as many critics and listeners, believe to be why the Hamilton audience extends to more than just Broadway fanatics.
The modern generation and change in technology have also allowed Hamilton to have a much wider reach than shows in the past. “With streaming platforms such as Spotify, it’s much easier for people to listen to the soundtrack and know the story without actually seeing the show,” said Ethan Yung ‘19. Even as someone who is not a fan of the musical himself, he believes that its fame was made possible because of its ability to have a big fanbase throughout the world — most of whom have never seen the show itself, seeing that tickets currently sell for a minimum of $400.
The fact that it has such a large following is another reason why people think that the musical is still selling out to this day. Lilly Sabella ‘21 says, “Because it’s popular, more people get curious and jump onto the Hamilton bandwagon to see what it’s all about.” Because of its hip-hop influence, it is also much easier to enjoy the soundtrack and become a fan of the show even if you do not usually enjoy Broadway musicals.
Regardless of why, Hamilton’s success in both the Broadway world as well as pop culture is something that has never been seen before. If you also want to understand why so many people are still paying hundreds of dollars to see the show, formulating your own opinion is as easy as listening to the two-and-a-half-hour soundtrack on Spotify or—if you are up for spending hundreds of dollars—seeing the show at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in Manhattan, the PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago, or the Victoria Palace Theatre in London.