FILM

The "Hamilton" Disney Movie Will Be Truer to Its Message Than the Musical

Lin Manuel Miranda's smash hit Broadway musical is coming to the big screen.

"Hamilton" is officially coming to theaters. For the price of a movie ticket, fans will be able to experience Lin Manuel Miranda's smash hit musical for themselves.

The movie will be a live recording of the original Broadway cast, so fans will be able to see Lin-Manuel Miranda gallivanting around the stage as Alexander Hamilton, along with Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr, Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Jonathan Groff as King George III, and many more. The musical will be hitting theaters on October 15, 2021.

The Broadway musical became a smash hit partly thanks to its ability to mix American patriotism with progressivism, as well as its radically diverse cast and its innovative fusion of hip hop and musical theatre styles.

But the show—which is really about scrappy young working-class people fighting for their American dream—was never exactly accessible to the people it aimed to represent. Hamilton tickets went for hundreds to thousands of dollars and was only available to New Yorkers and visitors with the ability to go to the theatre.

To stay true to the show's mission and message, Miranda and the Hamilton cast made sure that the show focused on philanthropy. When Philippa Soo, who plays Hamilton's wife, discovered that the orphanage Eliza began in Hamilton's honor still existed, she created an organization called "The Eliza Project" to raise money and offer support for the Bronx-based Graham Windham facility.

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Hamilton dance captain Morgan Marcell has also done his part, helping to start The Eliza Project and launching "Share Your Stories," a pen-pal program that connects cast members and kids at the orphanage.

The show also hosts a series of matinees for 11th graders in public school, which go for $10 a ticket. "I can only imagine what the show would have meant to me as a 16 or 17 year old," said Leslie Odom, Jr. of the project. "I know what Rent meant to me in my life, how that show changed the course of my life, and we can only hope that Hamilton will have the same effect on a few kids. We get so much doing this glorious material, and we get so much from our audiences, and so when you're in a moment like that, you feel the responsibility very acutely to pay it forward."

Now, Hamilton will be lending its revolutionary sentiments to the big screen. "Lin-Manuel Miranda created an unforgettable theater experience and a true cultural phenomenon, and it was for good reason that 'Hamilton' was hailed as an astonishing work of art," Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger told Variety. "All who saw it with the original cast will never forget that singular experience. And we're thrilled to have the opportunity to share this same Broadway experience with millions of people around the world."

Certainly, Hamilton is a life-changing show. But will it be as effective as a film?

While movies can be impactful, there's nothing like the magic of live theatre. Still, as a movie, the show will be reaching far more people than it could've on the Broadway stage. Hamilton's spirit of populist energy, activism, and political fervor is something we could all use right now at the start of election season.

The show also makes a powerful statement about immigrants and how they shaped America. "I just recognised that guy," said Miranda, describing his connection to Alexander Hamilton. "When you see Hamilton as an immigrant story, it becomes universal to me because I grew up in a largely immigrant neighbourhood in New York and we just knew the deal was: we have to work three times as hard. I don't remember a time when my parents had less than three jobs each. That is just the immigrant story and in Hamilton's case, he ends up shaping the nation. He gains the trust of George Washington and he ends up shaping our financial system, inventing the coast guard, creating the New York Post and a million other things."

Hamilton the Musical hasn't been without criticism, especially among those who criticize the show for exploring white history and emphasizing a "bootstraps" immigrant narrative, which blames any immigrants' failures on their lack of hard work rather than systemic forces of oppression. "The assertions here, that Hamilton worked harder and was smarter, true or not, imply that other immigrants who have not experienced success in their new nation are somehow at fault. They either do not work hard enough or, simply, are not smart enough. Such logic neglects and obscures the material obstacles and violences (structural racism, predatory capitalism, long-burned bridges to citizenship) imposed on racialized immigrants within the United States in order to celebrate the (false) promise of the American dream and the nation-state," writes James McMaster for Howlround.

All that said, Hamilton is still a powerful tale that strikes more than a few meaningful chords. Now audiences across the country can decide what they think of the ten-dollar founding father and his musical origin story.

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Gregory Allen Howard's Harriet Tubman biopic opened at the end of October after nearly 25 years of discussion and work.

Recently, Howard dusted off a memorable quote from the 1990s, when the movie was first in talks. Apparently, a studio executive suggested Julia Roberts, a white woman, play Tubman, the legendary black abolitionist.

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"I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, 'This script is fantastic. Let's get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,'" Howard said in an interview with Focus Features, republished in the LA Times on Tuesday. "When someone pointed out that Roberts couldn't be Harriet, the executive responded, 'It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.'"

"The climate in Hollywood … was very different," Allen added, crediting two recent box office smash hits with creating space for change. "Two films really changed the climate in Hollywood to allow Harriet to be made," he said. "When 12 Years a Slave became a hit and did a couple hundred million dollars worldwide, I told my agent, 'You can't say this kind of story won't make money now.' Then Black Panther really blew the doors open."

Representation in Hollywood has long been a contentious topic, and despite performative diversity and major successes for actors and directors of color, recent studies have shown that the state of the film industry is still abysmal. In 2018, the Observer reported, "Not only do Hollywood films still disproportionately showcase white, cisgender, heterosexual men, executives and authority figures on every tier of the industry haven't even deigned to experiment with telling stories from different perspectives to any tangible degree."

Naturally, the Internet had a lot to say. Most lamented the utter horror of seeing Julia Roberts and Harriet Tubman in the same headline, but the story really only highlights what we already knew: Hollywood, like the nation at large, has a racism and whitewashing problem, and always has.

MUSIC

Let Leslie Odom Jr.'s Silky Vocals Ease All the Pain In Your Soul

The sonic equivalent of a hot toddy on a cold night.

Leslie Odom Jr. has released a new album, entitled simply Mr, and it's, well, soothing.

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While some music is great for diving into the darkness so you can come out stronger (cough, FKA twigs' latest album), some music is useful for replacing all the aches in your heart with elegant jazz, dreamy violins, and of course, Leslie Odom Jr.'s voice.

If we're talking voices, Odom Jr. has the voice. It's the vocal equivalent of a hot toddy on a cold night, an advil in the thick of a migraine, a sip of warm but not hot honey-ginger tea. It's just rough enough to sound real, and thank god for that little rasp, otherwise it would be almost incomprehensibly smooth. He's riffing magnificently and shifting from falsetto to sultry low notes with impressive ease.

Mr finds the former Hamilton star adding modern inflections to classics such as Nina Simone's Feeling Good, using that song's triumphant chord progression to fuel the energy of his song "Standards," which is all about having high standards.

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Though not ostensibly a Christmas album, Mr still feels like Christmas—it's got all the bells and whistles, and you can imagine it playing in a department store during the Christmas sale rush, but in the best way possible. That's not to say it's not great party music: It would also be perfect to play during a Christmas party.

Odom Jr. can't quite shake his theatre kid roots, and it shows, as the album has an element of flashy performativity to it. That doesn't hurt the quality of the music. If anything, it's refreshing in an era obsessed with radical authenticity and glitchy sonic experimentation. Though not averse to drawing from a wide range of styles, Odom Jr. makes it all sound classic and refined, resulting in a cohesive, beautiful, and deeply, deeply soothing work of art.

Some of the songs are quite poignant, while others turn political, but ultimately, it's the perfect album to listen to if you're trying to stop racing endlessly through the hamster wheel and just take a minute to rest. On "Cold," he's literally inviting you in from the cold and promising to keep you safe, so take note. Here's some advice: Tonight, shut off Twitter, curl up with a cup of echinacea tea, and let Leslie Odom Jr. sing you to sleep. Sleep for twelve hours, wake up with your winter cold gone and a newfound excitement for the holiday season running through your currently cold, dead veins, and give thanks for Mr and all the pristine sounds that Leslie Odom Jr's voice box is capable of creating.