We found ourselves by good fortune watching "Hamilton" streaming on the Disney + channel on Independence Day.
The "Hamilton" film shows the orignal cast in an edited version of three live performances of the musical recorded in June 2016. We'd seen the production at New York's Richard Rodgers Theater at about that time, so it was thrilling to see close-up stage views of what we'd witnessed from distant seats.
For the first time, we saw the show's creator Lin-Manuel Miranda playing Alexander Hamilton; he'd been ably replaced by understudy Jon Rua for our performance, with the rest of the cast present.
While Miranda's acting is superb, his singing falls short of the other cast members. But the emotional depths he reaches overcomes the deficiencies of his voice.
Miranda's music is amazing, especially his ability to translate complex historical material into jaunty song lyrics. I'd forgotten that the play's narrative is almost totally conveyed by songs. The frequent rap numbers take the place of spoken dialogue, but many of the pop-oriented songs also progress the story, reminiscent of Rodgers' own "Oklahoma."
As New Yorker writer Lauren Michele Jackson pointed out, "Hamilton" succeeds as a musical, with even politically oriented songs like "In the Room Where It Happened" and "It Must Be Nice to Have Washington on Your Side" as infectious as pop romantic ballads.
The love song "Helpless" recalls the confections of 1960s girl groups, and Jonathan Goff's "You'll Be Back" sounds like a 1950s hit from Dion or Neil Sedaka.
Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography blends with the show, with an admirable absence of ostentation.
Seeing the faces of the dynamic performers Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson, Phillip Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Okieriete "Oak" Onaodowan was overpowering.
The closeup camera revealed the inner workings of stagecraft, yet the theatrical magic remained.