Helpless against the "Hamilton" hype

There’s little that hasn’t already been said, written or raved about "Hamilton." It’s a musical that rewrote the game, and chances are you’re either anxiously waiting for the day you get to see it or Kanye-shrugging that "hip-hop musical" you keep hearing about.

I feel you. It’s obnoxious when something gets overhyped. But I’m here to tell you—"Hamilton" is deserving of it all. It absolutely lives up to the furor.

As tempting as it is to roll your eyes and dismiss a musical about Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers, it’s easy to see how this show has convinced many a skeptic. Whether it converts you into an admirer of musicals or helps you reconnect with your own sense of patriotism, "Hamilton" has achieved remarkable feats—much like its protagonist, an "immigrant coming up from the bottom." It’s a powerful show that inspires with its story of struggle, revolution and legacy.

"Hamilton" has also unapologetically cast people of color for its main characters, a far cry from the powdered-wigged white dudes we’re used to seeing in our history books.

That very message the show reinforces resonates so strongly with me, a daughter of Mexican immigrants. I didn’t grow up exposed to musicals—they always seemed intimidating, and like they weren’t made for someone like me. That all changed when I saw a YouTube video about "In The Heights," "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s other Tony Award-winning musical. I knew it was something special, and it ended up being the very first musical I saw while it was in Chicago on its national tour in 2009.

I still remember the goosebumps I got when I saw a stage full of Latinos, dancing, singing and rapping an incredible story about life in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood. It was like nothing I could have ever imagined.

That feeling re-emerged when once again, an online video of Miranda performing what now is the opening song of "Hamilton" at a White House poetry jam left me in awe. Fast-forward to its hugely successful run on Broadway, a fantastic soundtrack release, a national tour launch in Chicago and my epic Ticketmaster-induced panic attack. Luckily, I snagged tickets to see the Chicago production when it was in previews late last month.

As the lights in the PrivateBank Theatre dimmed and I heard the familiar opening bars of "Alexander Hamilton," I braced myself for the magic. It didn’t disappoint. I feel so grateful to live in a city that gives me opportunities to see talent like this.

@michelleglopez | mglopez@redeyechicago.com

Copyright © 2016, RedEye
25°