Broadway’s Hamilton Takes Aim at Legacy


Corianna Jackson

Brentwood Highschool sets foot outside of the Hamilton theater on Wednesday, November 7.

Corianna Jackson, Staff Writer

For most musical theater fans or history buffs, the idea of seeing Hamilton live on Broadway is a faraway, sold-out dream with a hefty price tag. Mrs. Kennedy, a Sonderling English teacher, found a way to make this dream come true for some students at Brentwood High School. Kennedy applied to the Hamilton Education Program, an organization founded in 2015 that allows Title I schools in New York to see the esteemed musical at a reduced price.

A few lucky 11th graders, drama students, theater-loving librarians, and teachers took a ride into the city, their voices ringing with excitement as the train flew along the tracks, their hands rubbing together desperately as they withstood the brisk air outside the Hamilton theater, a gold beacon amongst the busy monotone buildings, and their breath catching in their throats as they climbed the stairs that transported them back to the late-18th century.

The day started off with a bang. Lights flashed onstage as an excited MC ran out with admirable energy. Kids started screaming and music started booming, while the theatre exploded in color. Surprisingly, the first act of the day was not performed by professionals, but by students. Students were asked to create a piece surrounding American history in the form of a poem, spoken word, rap, song, letter, or any other medium they could possibly think of. Select students were chosen from the schools to perform their piece on the Hamilton stage in front of a few cast members and a full house.

After that, a few ensemble members sat down, answered questions, and offered advice for those who were interested in embarking on the same career path in the arts. One highlight of the question-and-answer session was the topic of representation. The cast emphasized the importance of Hamilton in portraying “the way the country looks today,” and how amazing it is to see different ethnicities on such a broad platform. While Hamilton played different roles in each of the ensemble members’ lives, they could all agree on one thing they’ve learned from the historical aspect of the production: History tends to repeat itself.

Leaving us with a few inspiring words, the cast members went backstage to get ready as the audience prepared themselves for a life-changing show. From the first note sung to the last step danced, the musical was an emotional rollercoaster. There were virtually all kinds of tears: sad, angry, and happy. Once the stage went black and the house lights turned back on, most of the audience had a hard time adjusting back to reality. The idea that we hadn’t time-traveled back to the 18th century seemed harder to believe than one might think.

Although Hamilton took place over two hundred years ago, its themes are still prevalent in our society today. While there was conflict, death, and disappointment during Alexander Hamilton’s life – from the revolution against England to the most formative years of our government – there was also triumph and advancement. Some could say that America is in the middle of a conflict currently, considering that major political parties are so divided over basic human rights.If America could power through the loss of such an ambitious, powerful, underrated hero as Hamilton, then it can surely power through what some might call incompetent, conceited leadership at the hands of misguided administration.

Hamilton is not just a story about America’s history, it’s a story about loss, love, perseverance, jealousy, and most of all, legacy. The idea that every action is permanent and changes the course of history — every “shot” we do or don’t take, whether that be a loaded bullet within a pistol or a metaphorical opportunity that is offered to us — is constant throughout the story.

Most left the theater feeling self-aware, reminded of mortality and life, wanting to change the world as Alexander Hamilton once did. We left with one question ringing in our heads: Lin Manuel Miranda re-imagined Hamilton’s story, so who’s going to write ours?