I’m visiting my son in Florida and last night he streamed the filmed live version of musical Hamilton on Disney+. The musical was as excellent as all of my friends insisted, and I’m very glad I finally got to see it. What was unexpected was all the members of the “crew” were singing actors and stage hands, and each scene change happened without a close of the curtain…so the action never stopped. What really stood out to me was the fact that almost the entire musical was in song, with occasional lapses into mere speech for emphasis.

The lyrics were routinely insanely good and clever, so you’d have to watch it over and over with a pause button in your hand to appreciate all the turns of phrase. Some of the music was beatboxing, and one song was actually rap, but it all fit seamlessly. Updating certain subtle things made history come alive, like when the Thomas Jefferson character[1] lamented that as ambassador to France he’d missed “the late 80s” and it made me internally hitch the 1780s to the 1980s in my mind and feel like someone from over 200 years ago was a contemporary—a real person.

I did not know that the guy who played Hamilton himself was also the playwright. Like my son and his wife, I’d want to see it live but balked at the $200-per ticket price. Still, I have to admit that a recording with closed captions was probably better for my comprehension.

[1] Who was usually comic relief, but in an historically accurate way: the guy did have an ego as large as a mountain. That he was played by a black man with a long afro and a purple frock coat and breeches tells you how he played on that ego beautifully.