Acting II: Scene Study
Hamilton: A Darn Good American Musical
Musicals often get a bad wrap for not having sincere enough acting. Some straight acting gurus and scholars would suggest that the sole purpose of a musical is to mindlessly entertain the audience with colorful scenery, choreography, and an array of spectacular high notes sung by the actors themselves. This infamousness of musicals is quickly being wiped out by shows like the one I saw at the Richard Rogers Theater. While all of those areas were very much experienced in my viewing of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical, they took a major backseat to the story telling of the brilliant performers on stage. I came into this show with an absurd amount of high expectations, with it being the most successful musical in the history of Broadway. I exited the Richard Rogers Theater not only having those expectations fulfilled, but with a broader understanding of living truthful in fictional, or in this case non-fictional circumstances.
Lin Manuel Miranda is the foremost example of an artist who is truly dedicated to his work. It took him SIX YEARS to write and compose Hamilton. Six. Years. In two and a half hours he manages to smash in more than 20,000 words in order to tell this story. Lin’s initial goal was to affectively recreate the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton through an imaginative display of modern culture and American theater. This goal is obviously achieved with the use of his brilliant motives, multicultural casting, laser-precision staging, and of course his masterful poetry within the songs and dialogue.
Attitude is everything. Right off the bat the first thing I noticed when the lights came up was poise and “I AM ME” attitude. The actor portraying the role of Aaron Burr enters to say the famous opening words “how does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore…” It was this sort of calm and fierce attitude that was extremely thrilling to watch from an audiences prospective. I was already excited to see the show in the first place but when Brandon Victor Dixon, the man playing Burr, took the stage I was immediately hooked. He was grounded and calm, a character choice that few make and few have success in playing. But boy does he have success. We’ve talked in class a lot about how you should enter an audition. That having 100% confidence in yourself and totally owning your entrance before you start singing or performing a monologue is a must if you want book jobs. This easily applies to a show itself. Instead of an audition-ers attitude making or breaking your audition, in this case it can make or break the audiences entire experience. Fortunately for me, Dixon is a total rock star and accomplishes this with flying colors. A firework opening was not necessary to grasp my attention, it was the simplicity and well thought out choice of being reactionary by Dixon that flawlessly opened the show and started an unreal journey.
Evolution of character is critical...