All Creative-Minded Humans Should Read 'Hamilton: The Revolution'

All Creative-Minded Humans Should Read 'Hamilton: The Revolution'

If you participate in any type of storytelling, this is a must-read.

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Over the Thanksgiving break, I spent a good chunk of time reading "Hamilton: The Revolution" by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. I've been a fan of the show for years, so it was about time that I finally picked it up. And while my focus was on the annotated libretto (or script) for the purpose of a school project, I took advantage of the free time I had to read through a number of the chapters interspersed between the scenes. And despite the fact that I haven't finished them all yet, I found it so inspiring.


Overall, the book's basic purpose is to detail the development of this musical from the beginning to its peak as of the time of publishing. (Clearly, it's got "The Revolution" in the title for a reason.) It talks about the people (plus a dog) who inspired Miranda along the way, credits the whole team that helped each aspect of the show come into fruition, explains the lead cast members' path to and through "Hamilton", and gives notes written by Miranda himself on certain pieces of the music/script that give a deeper understanding of the show. In addition, it comments on the position of this show in the social world at the time (which happened to be just before this new post-2016-election era).




Why is this important? Everyone knows by now the genius of this musical, whether they like it or not. It didn't win all those Tonys, a Grammy, or the Pulitzer Prize for nothing. Part of this importance is because learning about important pieces of art is central to cultural awareness. But in the creative world, it becomes even more valuable.


Something I've heard time and time again through my years of working on different art forms and being around countless others doing the same is to constantly expose yourself to others' art- especially in your own field. Writers have to read. Musicians have to listen. Artists have to look around. Actors, theater designers, and dancers have to watch. The list goes on- but "Hamilton" incorporates all of that and the way this book outlines all of it is remarkable.


The annotations in the libretto don't just deepen your understanding of the show- they give you background and share anecdotes that show you how he came up with the little nuances that make it what it is. I mentioned that each core member of the team- the director, the choreographer, the set designer, the costume designer, the orchestrator, the producer, the lighting designer, and more- get credited, but it's more than that. They all have whole chapters dedicated to explaining what went into their work. I definitely did not realize all the little details that went into things like the costume design of this show and such before reading this. Each of the lead actors has chapters about them, too- the stories of Hamilton team finding them and deciding to cast them, their approaches to their roles, and more. The book really shows all sides of how this Broadway hit came to be.


From left: "Hamilton" choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, Lin-Manuel Miranda, director Thomas Kail, and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire.



Then there are the chapters on how Miranda found his inspiration, which expand upon how he wrote the show with such precision. How he took bits and pieces from landmark pieces of music, from musical theatre to hip-hop to operetta, to create new ones. How he spoke about every historical detail with the author of the biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired the show in the first place because, to quote him, "I want historians to take this seriously." How he read many of Hamilton's old writings as well as his correspondence with other characters mentioned in the musical. How he spoke with seasoned Broadway composers about their works. And though there's a quote in one of his annotations that says much of the writing process is "pooping around on Twitter until [he gets] an idea," it's clear from the contents of this book that there's so much more to the process than that.




All of this together really shows every detail of what it takes to put together such an incredible and complex piece of storytelling. And that's all that art is- storytelling in one way or another. Exposing yourself to how professionals in not just your field but in other forms of art tell their stories can give you a new perspective on how you tell your own. Hamilton isn't a bad place to start.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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