Enough About Hamilton (But Seriously, Buy the Book)

It’s been awhile (some might argue since The Book of Mormon, others would cite Rent, A Chorus Line, or The Black Crook) since a new musical has so thoroughly insinuated itself in the mainstream media and consciousness. New York Magazine’s Vulture devoted an entire week to articles about Hamilton.

Of course, I’m not immune to this (meta comments about this article aside). And the show really is very good. And it does seem to hit genuinely newsworthy milestones frequently. It already recouped! The cast recording is a certified gold record! The Casting Controversy! The Profit-Sharing-with-Workshop-Actors Controversy!

hamilton-the-revolution-coverNow there’s a companion book – Hamilton: a Revolution – adding to the hysteria, with articles building up to, and on the day of, its release as well as articles discussing it’s success. It would be rather annoying if it weren’t for one thing: The book is damn good.

The structure is very compelling: behind-the-scenes essays about the show’s origins presented in tandem with the libretto. Each essay/chapter is devoted to a particular team member/element of the show but also ties directly to a specific song. (Ex: Chapter on David Korins and his set design relates specifically to “Schuyler Sisters”). The lyrics are then laid out beautifully over full color photos with generally interesting and modest footnotes from LMM (they run more along the lines of pointing out historical factoids, musical influences, and discarded ideas than bragging about his own cleverness). It’s a fun read and only occasionally makes you want to gouge your eyes out with its deification of the show. It’s also well presented – elegantly designed and printed on nice, rough-edged paper that almost feels homemade. It’s an attractive coffee table book that you can flip through as casually as a magazine in addition to being a fun close-read.

So do yourself a favor. Remind yourself that there are other shows this season. Read an article about Waitress. Watch Carolee Carmello sing something from Tuck Everlasting (music Chris Miller, lyric Nathan Tysen). And then get a copy of #Hamiltome.

The King and me2ism: Margaret Landon’s Anna and the King of Siam

annakingofsiamI recently finished listening to the audiobook edition of Margaret Langdon’s Anna and the King of Siam, the source material for The King and I. To separate fact from legend, I also watched an episode of A&E’s Biography (which is include as a bonus feature on the dvd of the 1946 film Anna and the King of Siam which is on my watchlist for the weekend). Continue reading