Disney+’s Hamilton transports viewers to the front row of the theater


Hamilton has enchanted audiences on Disney+.

Megan Cornell, Staff Writer

Disney+’s Hamilton transports viewers to the front row of the theater, all from the comfort of their couch. 

This past summer, America was taken by storm when streaming service Disney+ released footage of the hit musical Hamilton. Filmed at two performances back in 2016, the Disney+ version features all the star actors at their peak. The production includes rapping, singing, and dancing while simultaneously teaching viewers about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton. 

In summer 2018, my family was lucky enough to watch Hamiton live in Chicago. Even as a seventh grader, I was immersed in the production and the music of the play. When the Disney+ version came out, I did not think it could ever live up to the magic of seeing the play live. However, the film is remarkably produced and transported me back to the same live experience. 

The two and half hour production begins with Hamilton (Lin Manuel Miranda) immigrating to America as a nineteen year old. Throughout his life, Hamilton fights in the revolutionary war with George Washington, marries socialite Eliza Schyuler, clashes with Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of Treasury, and dramatically dies in a duel against his lifelong rival Aaron Burr. This life story is told through an array of different musical numbers, ranging from hard hitting rap to beautiful solos performed by leading actresses like Phillipa Soo and Renée Elise Goldsberry. 

Both the Disney+ and live version of Hamilton appeal to all age groups. Watching the musical with both my family and my friend group, I watched the reaction of all ages to the production. My dad read the book about Alexander Hamilton the production was based on, and appreciated the accuracy and historical element of the play.  When I watched the film three years later, I was able to appreciate the humorous tid bits sprinkled throughout. However, my youngest sister watched the live play for the first time at just 8 years old, and was still enthralled with the music and dancing of the production. Although it is rated PG-13 on Disney+, the content is not too explicit and the bright stage and singing appeal to younger audiences as well. 

The film crew gives viewers a look at what it is like to watch the production in a top tier seat, all for the relatively low price of a Disney+ subscription.

— Megan Cornell

The top notch cast on the Disney+ version of Hamilton sets it apart from other adaptations. By the time Hamilton made it to the Chicago stage, many of the leading actors had already retired for the season, so I was excited to re-experience the play with the original cast members. The version on Disney+ features Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), Leslie Odem Jr. (Aaron Burr), Phillipa Soo (Eliza Schuyler), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler), and Davvid Diggs (Jefferson). This Disney+ cast made the movie an immense success; their talent for the stage is truly unmatched.   

With the Disney+ version of Hamilton, the viewer is taken to a front row Broadway street all from their home. At the peak Broadway season, the best Hamilton seats cost $849 dollars per person. The film crew gives viewers a look at what it is like to watch the production in a top tier seat, all for the relatively low price of a Disney+ subscription. The film crew picked up on minute details that even a front row watcher would have missed live; Jonathan Groff, who plays King George, even went viral for spitting a lot during his performance. To capture the best visuals, the film crew compiled an array of the best shots taken over multiple performances. This way, the crew guaranteed a top performance from each actor would be shown in the film. 

To get the most out of the musical, I recommend listening to the songs before watching the production, or using closed captions to catch all the lyrics. The story of Hamilton’s life is told almost entirely through music, and the details embedded in the raps can be missed by a first time listener. My sister performed the Hamilton songs at a school concert prior to watching the play live for the first time , and being familiar with the music facilitated my understanding and enjoyment of the production. 

The only complaint I have about the Hamilton musical is the run time. Since it was transferred directly from the theater, the movie version is longer than most films on Disney+. The 2 hours and 40 minutes can feel a little long, but Hamilton is well worth the time spent.