Wednesday, February 27, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Hamilton: The Revolution

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. Published by Grand Central Publishing. Copyright 2016. Hardcover. 288 pages.

Regardless of how I feel about the show itself (review HERE), I have to say that the quality of the merchandise for Hamilton is next-level amazing in both quality and content. I never say this, but I'd have paid double the price for the souvenir program, it is that artful and interesting. And so now I am in love with this show's coffee table book, Hamilton: The Revolution. It is, quite simply, a stunning work.

At 288 pages, the book is comprehensive. It features over two dozen essays on everything from the Hamilton biography that started it all, to a compelling history of the production. Naturally, the creative team offers behind-the-scenes features, as well as those old from the perspective of each original cast member. The description of why Pippa Soo was cast as Eliza is wonderful, for example. Commentary from several political analysts and some sightings of President Obama lend some scholarly heft to the book, as well. Interspersed throughout are artifact photographs, from colonial documents to costume sketches with fabric swatches. As a theater buff, finding out how a show came to be from pretty much every angle fascinates me.

The book also includes the full libretto - interspersed among the pertinent essays for each scene - annotated and footnoted on each page with remarks from Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. He talks about everything from the real history of the Founding Fathers, to allusions to other works, and explanations of his word choices and the hip hop influence. It is a treasure to have such a resource from a man at the top of his game. I'd say that this volume is on par with the Sondheim pair of books that analyze that genius' works. (Mr. Sondheim also contributes here.)

The quality of the book is superb. The leather-like binding necessitates that the book go on a shelf full of other important books. Fans of the show will want it for all the reasons I mentioned above, but also for the absolutely gorgeous cast portraits and the stunning production photos that can be seen nowhere else by legendary photographers Joan Marcus and Frank Ockenfels.

Frankly, this is a book I'd like to study. Perhaps in preparation for a future return visit to the show itself...

Grade: A+

If you don't have it already, here's a link to the book on Amazon.


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