Daveed Diggs, as Marquis de Lafayette, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, as Alexander Hamilton, reunite on the battlefield in the filmed stage production of Hamilton.
What is the purpose of a review? To temper or raise expectations? To introduce readers to the themes, characters, and plot points of a piece beforehand? To show that the reviewer is super smart and that people should have been nicer to him in high school? Yes, all of these things, but the preeminent reason is undoubtedly to share whether or not the production is worth your time and money. Hamilton is one of those things that is hard to review because, let’s face it... you already know if you’re going to watch this or not. Nothing I can possibly say will change your mind one way or another at this point. You might have already watched it, in fact; everyone knows Hamilton, and now it is on Disney+. Instead of wasting everyone’s time by adding to the eleven-time Tony Award winner’s mountain of rave reviews I will, therefore, focus on the Disney+ version of the eminent musical in particular: Simply put, it is a worthy offering that is also the best possible way to experience the show just short of buying a ticket to pre-Covid-19 Broadway.
First things first: Hamilton on Disney+ is a professional filming of the stage production, not an adaptation. That being said, the camera work is surprisingly dynamic: There are multiple angles and depths presented, giving the whole experience a slightly more cinematic feel. If one of the characters has a particularly impressive reaction, for example, you can bet that you will get a close-up of that character. This forced focus is useful for someone like me who often gets overwhelmed with the sheer amount of sensory input that comes with watching musicals in person.
I would be remiss, however, if I did not mention that like most musicals, Hamilton is approximately three hours long. This is somewhat remedied by the fact that you can pause the play whenever you want to go pee, but it also might make it a chore to sit through if you watch it with kids (see my nephews Peter and James for an excellent example). That being said, Disney also does an admirable job of cutting out an f-bomb here and there to make the experience a more family friendly PG-13.
Hamilton on Disney+ is, overall, a slightly more complete experience than the one presented in, say, the official soundtrack. I say “slightly” here because the music and lyrics really make up the bulk of the production; as anyone who is lucky enough to have seen the play in person can tell you, the sets and choreography are purposefully minimalist so they do not distract from the story. This may come as a bit of a surprise to anyone who has heard the soundtrack and imagined elaborate setpieces and complicated dances, but it works. Experiencing Hamilton like this is really the best way to go until the virus restrictions end and we can all go on a field trip to New York together. When that happens, I’m buying.
Well, not really.
Hamilton is now available on Disney+.