'The Model of a Modern Major Musical': Hamilton's Musical Theatre Heritage - Dr Adam Rush

Hamilton
Hamilton

Wednesday 12 December

4.30pm

St Edburga Building 201, King Alfred Quarter, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 4NR 

'The Model of a Modern Major Musical': Hamilton's Musical Theatre Heritage - Dr Adam Rush

When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton opened in 2015, the musical was widely lauded as revolutionary. The combination of staging a political biography, a hip-hop infused score, the casting of non-white performers, various innovative advertising approaches, and so on, generated a musical that has been considered a musical theatre landmark. That said, Hamilton was not created within a vacuum. Instead, it is a well-crafted piece of postmodern entertainment, which relies on intertextual references to, among other things, various popular musicals. This paper therefore focuses on Hamilton’s relationship with the musical theatre canon, both through direct references to other shows and broader structural or stylistic similarities. Whether in the referencing of South Pacific or broader connections to Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, Hamilton is a new, fresh, and exciting theatrical experience, yet indebted to musical theatre history at every turn. Accordingly, this paper concludes that Hamilton follows a much wider cultural trend in taking past stories, or events, and re-performing them using contemporary aesthetics and idioms. Hamilton may feature many revolutionary aspects, yet it is undoubtedly a love-letter to musical theatre past and present with a contemporary exterior.

Dr Adam Rush is Lecturer in Musical Theatre at the University of Winchester. His research concerns intertextuality in contemporary musical theatre, often in relation to social media and fan culture. His research has been published in Studies in Musical Theatre, chapters for Palgrave and Oxford University Press, in addition to a forthcoming monograph for Oxford University Press.

Centre for Performance Practice and Research

Faculty of Arts

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