As guests began to arrive to the Booth Theater, rain crashed down without warning. As the violent sheets blurred the neon lights above, Times Square erupted as tourists sprinted for cover.
Thomas Kail and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the reigning king of Broadway, created a production that operates like an improv show, where the cast draws on suggestions from the audience to shape the performance, elevating it with rap, spoken word, and song.
As we all know, Hamilton—the Pulitzer Prize–winning pageant of American history, which succeeded In the Heights—remains one of the most acclaimed and profitable musicals of the 21st century. Miranda, as the next hour testified, still has his Midas touch.
Despite the jubilance and raunch, the uncertainty that has shaken the nation in the past few days echoed throughout the show. Among the first words offered by the audience, “whistle-blower” repeated, whether as political idiom or innuendo, in nearly every number. The show’s most moving moment—a slow and mournful song—made use of the phrase “family justice.” Despite the subject and tone, there was a lightheartedness to it all, especially when the cast played the Shakespearean fool. The ensemble targeted the culture’s elite (a woman counts shopping as a second “job”), the petty woes of capitalism (too many streaming services), changing mores (the deficiencies of plastic straws), and most of all, themselves. Those onstage, like Feste and Puck before them, mocked their patrons, played to the groundlings, but spoke honestly of broader uncertainties. The message was simple: to laugh and, as the title stresses, to love.
The energy and optimism infected the audience. The after-party, held in the sleek Second on 6th Avenue, buzzed as industry legends, critics, and ingenues mingled over pastas, popovers, and Prosecco. Gleaming through the glass walls, a massive billboard for the show, brazen and blue on a building across the alley, announced the arrival of a great American musical.
Originally Appeared on Vogue