Revolution! The Musical
On "1776" (1972) and "Hamilton" (2015)
New Books Network 2021
In this third and final episode on the American Revolution, we look at the momentous events through an entirely different genre - the musical. You didn't think we could get away with not talking about Hamilton did you? But first, we travel a bit further back in time to appreciate the historical context of the first of the first musical about the revolution - 1776, which was the Tony award winner for best musical in 1969, and then a 1972 movie with almost the same cast. Hamilton was first staged off-Broadway in 2015. It’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, worked on it for years however, inspired by Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton. 1776 came out amid great political turmoil inspired by the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. Hamilton was itself revolutionary - a hip hop musical about the Founding Fathers with a cast made up almost entirely of non-Caucasians. As you might expect, each musical had a lot to say about their respective moments in history. As Lin-Manuel Miranda stated, “This is a story about America then, told by America now.”
Lia Paradis is a professor of history at Slippery Rock University. Brian Crim is a professor of history at the University of Lynchburg. For more on Lies Agreed Upon, go here.