A Thaddeus Stevens Musical: A 19th Century Hamilton?

By Megan McNish ’16

If you read my last post on the Broadway musical Hamilton, you’ve already read my waxing admiration of the show and might also remember that I listen to the soundtrack non-stop. The musical has shown the world the power that music has as a teaching tool. As someone interested in nineteenth century American history, I long for a Hamilton-esque musical regarding the Civil War era. One of the reasons Hamilton is so successful is its ability to draw connections between past and present issues, and that can be done easily for nineteenth century America. Women’s rights, slavery, immigration, emancipation, and workers’ rights are all issues that plagued the nineteenth century and, in many ways, we deal with their legacy today. I have thought long and hard about how a musical about the nineteenth century would be executed and on whose life it would focus. The obvious choice would be to focus on Abraham Lincoln. Our sixteenth president’s story has equal parts success and personal tragedy. Lincoln, however, does not satisfy me as the protagonist in the way that Hamilton does. His story has been told many times over and. Comparatively speaking, retelling Lincoln’s story would be a similar choice to telling Washington’s story in the context of the Revolutionary War era.

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Parody image by author. Original copyright of Hamilton:  An American Musical.
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Hamilton: Musical Theater, Public History’s New Frontier?

By Megan McNish ’16

Hamilton is one of Broadway’s newest musicals and it’s the hottest thing to hit the stage in a long time. The show, a rap-opera, follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s ‘forgotten Founding Father.’ The show has had immense success since it opened in August 2015, with thousands of followers on the show’s Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages. It has exploded from the stage into a cultural phenomenon, but what makes the story of this Founding Father so compelling for audiences? Previous productions of historical musicals and plays have failed on the stage, while Hamilton thrives. What is its secret?

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The album cover for the original Broadway cast recording of the new musical Hamilton. Image Courtesy of Atlantic Records.

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