Tag: Leslie Odom Jr.

RISE UP: Why “Hamilton: An American Musical” is Still a Must-See

Cast of "Hamilton" (
Cast of “Hamilton: An American Musical” performing “My Shot” (photo via nytimes.com)
by Julie Bibb Davis
by Julie Bibb Davis

The first song I heard from the Hamilton soundtrack was “My Shot.”  This song, the third one in the first act, serves the important role of introducing the ten-dollar-founding-father-without-a-father Alexander Hamilton: his burning ambition, his sophisticated oratory, his commitment to revolution.  But the verse that hit me the hardest, that immediately told me that something exceptional was going on with this show, was this one, sung by young abolitionist John Laurens (played by Anthony Ramos):

 

Rise Up!

When you’re living on your knees, you rise up

Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up

Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up

This verse — in the show an exhortation to the 18th century colonists to revolt against the British government — is universal and timely enough to be a rallying cry for any recent social justice movement.  As soon as I heard it, I knew Hamilton was trying to do something special.  Without being didactic or preachy, Hamilton was telling people to stand up for their rights, take a seat at the table, and participate in America.  

Much ink has been spilled about Hamilton: about its innovative hip-hop structure, its diverse cast, its best-selling cast album (including time at No.1 on the Billboard Rap charts), its unprecedented popularity on Broadway, its brilliant and social media-savvy creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, its eleven Tony awards.  But despite its runaway popular success, and its seemingly universal appeal, Hamilton feels to me — and I suspect to many fans — deeply personal.  As a mixed-race person, a lawyer who attended the same college as Hamilton, a federal government employee, and a life-long musical theatre nerd, the combination of the music, the lyrics, and the cast feels urgent and relevant.  

Jessica Davis (l), Tony Ramos (m), Julie Bibb Davis (r) [photo courtesy Julie Bibb Davis]
Jessica Davis (l), “Hamilton” cast member Anthony Ramos (c) and Julie Bibb Davis (r) [photo courtesy Julie Bibb Davis]
For my teenage children, who follow the charismatic and thoughtful cast on Instagram and Snapchat, it has made American history feel applicable to their daily lives in a way their school classes never have.  And when we were fortunate enough to see the show on Broadway, watching the diverse cast play the (white) American founders, and seeing how Miranda has also worked to make what has usually been understood as being primarily a story of men include the contributions of women, had an impact that cannot be overstated.

Hamilton shows the influence of American musical theatre traditions that range from Rodgers & Hammerstein to Sondheim to Disney.  The show is most solidly rooted, however, in black musical traditions.  Hamilton’s hip-hop and rap songs have garnered the most attention, but that only scratches the surface.  “What’d I Miss” is a wonderful homage to Cab Calloway, with elements of ragtime and even funk.  

“The Schuyler Sisters” echoes groups like Destiny’s Child, “Wait for It” starts with a dancehall reggae beat, and “Say No To This” is an R&B slow jam straight out of the 90s.  In addition, most of the original main case is black, including Okieriete Onadowan (Mulligan/Madison), Tony nominee Chris Jackson (Washington), and Tony winners Leslie Odom, Jr. (Burr), Renee-Elise Goldsberry (Anjelica), and Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Jefferson).   Continue reading “RISE UP: Why “Hamilton: An American Musical” is Still a Must-See”

“Hamilton” Governs 2016 Tony Awards; Four Black Actors Win in Major Categories

"Hamilton" wins big at the 2016 Tony Awards
“Hamilton” wins big at the 2016 Tony Awards (photo via theepochtimes.com)

article via newsone.com

The 70th Annual Tony Awards set the bar for diversity on Sunday evening as several actors and actresses of color were recognized for their work; a major difference from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that ensued earlier this year. For the first time in the ceremony’s history, four musical acting awards were nabbed by Black actors.

Broadway hit show Hamilton took home eleven awards including Best Musical, Best Lead Actor, which was won by Leslie Odom, Jr., Best Featured Actor, which was given to Daveed Diggs, and Best Featured Actress, which was awarded to Renee Elise Goldsberry. Cynthia Erivo won Best Lead Actress for her role in the revival of The Color Purple.

The nominees for different categories were diverse as well. Both Christopher Jackson from Hamilton and Brandon Victor Dixon from Shuffle Along were in the running for best featured actor. Diggs said diverse productions like Hamilton serve as inspiration for young children of color who want to get involved in theater. “There is so much diversity on Broadway right now,” he said“It’s nice to have it feeling a little more mainstream and a lot more inclusive.”

See a full list of winners below:

Best Musical
Hamilton (WINNER)
Bright Star
School of Rock—The Musical
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Waitress

Best Play
The Humans (WINNER)
Eclipsed
The Father
King Charles III

Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple (WINNER)
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Spring Awakening

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge (WINNER)
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Blackbird
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Noises Off

Best Book of a Musical
Hamilton: Lin-Manuel Miranda (WINNER)
Bright Star: Steve Martin
School of Rock—The Musical: Julian Fellowes
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed:George C. Wolfe

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Hamilton (WINNER)

Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Bright Star
Music: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell
Lyrics: Edie Brickell

School of Rock—The Musical
Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Glenn Slater

Waitress
Music & Lyrics: Sara Bareilles

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Frank Langella, The Father (WINNER)
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Continue reading ““Hamilton” Governs 2016 Tony Awards; Four Black Actors Win in Major Categories”

“Hamilton” Breaks Tonys Record with 16 Nominations

Shortly after the news broke that “Hamilton” had landed 16 Tony Award nominations, the musical’s director, Thomas Kail, sent a text to choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and others on the show’s creative team. “I just woke up. What happened?” Kail asked facetiously.

What happened, as it turned out, was one for the Broadway record books.

“Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical about America’s founding fathers, wrote its own piece of history Tuesday morning. After selling out theaters and becoming a cultural sensation since it opened on Broadway last summer, the show has now broken the record of 15 Tony nominations previously held by “The Producers” (2001) and “Billy Elliot” (2009).

In the top category of best musical, “Hamilton” will compete, nominally, against Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “School of Rock,” the small-town charmer “Waitress,” the Appalachian bluegrass piece “Bright Star” and the race-themed meta-tale “Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.”

But those other shows may consider it an honor just to be nominated. “Hamilton” is considered by nearly all experts to be a shoo-in to win for best musical, and it will aim for the record of 12 Tony wins (set by “The Producers”) when theater’s biggest night kicks off June 12 on CBS from New York’s Beacon Theatre.

“Hamilton” was boosted by multiple nominations in acting categories, including lead actor (Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr., the latter a front-runner) and featured actor (Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson and Jonathan Groff). “Hamilton” also will compete for score, choreography and direction of a musical, among others.

The nominations continue a magic-carpet ride that began with a Miranda performance of a “Hamilton Mixtape” at the White House in 2009, continued with an august run at downtown’s Public Theater in early 2015 and then a building juggernaut after opening at the Richard Rodgers in the summer.

The record set Tuesday is an industry capper of sorts on what had become the most unlikely of phenomena: a Broadway musical, often regarded as the narrowest of cultural niches, becoming a crossover hit and a gateway to a larger discussion about history and race.

“Someone asked me today if this is all old hat,” the newly minted Tony nominee Blankenbuehler recalled from the North Carolina set of “Dirty Dancing,” where, in part thanks to the success of “Hamilton” he is choreographing the new ABC reboot. “And I said, ‘Are you kidding? I’m still like a kid in a candy store.’ We all are.”

Miranda, at 36 already one of the theater world’s most influential creators, offered his own valedictory, noting in a statement that “for ‘Hamilton’ to receive a record-breaking number of nominations is an honor so humbling it’s so far been beyond my comprehension.”

To read more, go to: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-tony-nominations-20160502-snap-story.html