Since its initial performance in 2015, I have become a huge fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit Broadway show, "Hamilton." This musical actually sparked my love for Broadway and led me to listen to the countless other musicals that I cherish today. In 2017, I was lucky enough to be able to see an in-person showing of "Hamilton" at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.
Watching the production in-person was an absolutely outstanding experience that I will never forget. However, the cast I saw was not the original Broadway cast. When I found out a filmed production of "Hamilton" with its original casting was going to be released on Disney+, I couldn't wait.
Since seeing the live production of the show in 2017, I had listened to the entirety of the "Hamilton" soundtrack by itself multiple times. As I began watching the filmed production on Disney+, I knew right away that the quality of my experience was going to be truly elevated rather than simply listening to the musical, as I had in the past. The first major aspect of "Hamilton" that fans miss out on by only listening to the soundtrack is the amazing choreography and stage movement that accompanies every minute of the show. Just one example of this can be found a little over halfway through the show during the song, “The Room Where It Happens." Performed by Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr, this scene features a moment where Odom is performing atop a table — and in a split-second — he jumps while a dancer pulls the tablecloth from under his feet in perfect synchronicity. Though this moment is so quick that one may miss it, it is impressive nonetheless. It would remain unseen by many, had the film not been released. Alongside jaw-dropping scenes such as the aforementioned one, the consistent choreography of "Hamilton" scores even more points within the hearts of viewers because it always adds the perfect touch to each song’s theatrical performance and helps to create the seamless transitions of the production.
As someone who has seen a few musicals live and in-person, I can also easily say that the filmed production of "Hamilton" was definitely a different experience than simply attending. At times, I found the film a bit easier to watch in that the cameras would consistently focus on the most important part of each scene and move accordingly. When you watch a show such as "Hamilton" live, it is common to feel unsure of where your attention should be, because there is simply so much happening on stage. While some may say that seeing the production in the film format limits your ability to look anywhere and everywhere on the stage, I believe that the film did a great job of focusing on what was most important in each instance and allowing the audience a full view of the stage when needed.
Another aspect of the "Hamilton" film that added to the viewing experience was the ability to clearly see the facial expressions of the performers. Even if you pay for the best seats in the theater, it is still unlikely that you would be able to see the exact facial expressions of a live cast. However, by watching the filmed production, fans are able to see almost every expression that the cast members of "Hamilton" have conjured in order to create the emotions that perfect the show. Prime examples of these are within King George’s musical numbers, enacted by Jonathan Groff: “You’ll Be Back," “What Comes Next?” and “I Know Him.” Those who are familiar with the musical know King George's scenes for their frivolous humor, however, Groff’s expressions during the tunes truly send the comic numbers through the roof.
Though being able to see a production of this caliber through a streaming service such as Disney+ is an amazing opportunity, I do still stress that if you are able, go see a theater production live at least once in your lifetime. It is truly an experience like none other and you’ll never forget it.