Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical, Hamilton, is as revolutionary as its subject: the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country's origins for a diverse new generation.
Hamilton: The Revolution gives listeners an unprecedented insight into both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages - "since before this was even a show," according to Miranda - traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Emmy and Gold Globe-winning actor Mariska Hargitay lends her voice to the audiobook, and Miranda reads more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is included in the PDF with this audiobook.
The audiobook does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don't throw away their shots.
"Mariska, in addition to being the number-one fan of the show, represents, to me, much of what Hamilton is about - tough, smart, and New York. She's an essential part of this city; it feels only right for her to narrate the story." (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2016 Lin-Manuel Miranda (P)2016 Hachette Audio
"Mariska Hargitay takes on the role of warm documentarian in her narration of this behind-the-scenes look at the cultural phenomenon that is Hamilton. Hargitay is an able guide.... It's fascinating listening for Broadway aficionados and an essential deep dive for Hamilton fans." (AudioFile)
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
If you are a fan of Hamilton the Musical, you own a copy of the soundtrack, you have read the Chernow biography, you are frustrated because you can’t get a copy of the tickets, you have watched all of the youtube clips you can find and you are still interested in the show, you should buy a copy of Hamilton: The Revolution.
Hamilton: The Revolution is two (or three) books in one. One book is written by Jeremy McCarter. McCarter is a theater critic and friend of Lin-Manuel Miranda. McCarter traces the development of the show, the background of all of the performers and collaborators. He talks about how the show developed from pre-production idea to early musical pieces to the initial trial run to the Broadway version. There is discussion of how musical pieces changed, motivation behind some of the writing of the pieces and other personal thoughts about the show and the actors.
The second aspect of the book is the lyrics of the show (the libretto) for the whole show, with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s annotations. I have read the lyrics that were available in Amazon’s version of the soundtrack, but that is only about half of the pieces. So this is the first time I have actually read the lyrics of the entire show.
The third aspect of the book, and the real reason you should purchase this in print is the photographs that make this a coffee table book. The libretto is filled with photographs. If you purchase this as an audiobook, a PDF of the libretto is included, but that is not as impressive as holding the whole book.
Initially I did not think I was going to buy the book. I did not pre-order the book because I wanted to see if the book was whisper-synced with the Kindle and Audiobook version. But when the Kindle edition was $17 I did not even consider it. So I purchased the audiobook. After I was half way through the audio, and had flipped through the PDF, I went out and purchased the hardcover.
I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, but I would recommend purchasing the hardcover. The audiobook is six hours. Nearly five hours is the main text of the making of the musical section. The rest of the audiobook is Miranda reading the annotations without the libretto text. So it sounds like reading footnotes and doesn’t make sense unless you are looking at the PDF. And if you are looking at the PDF, then there is no reason to listen to the narration.
Update: Re-reading the libretto and notes in full, and slowly, there is so much brilliance in the show. The annotations do not explain half of the references, but there are a lot of lines that I did not fully understand. And there are a number of the annotations that explain references, especially to hip-hop history or lyrics that I never would have understood in any other way. The biblical, literary, political and historical references I had a chance of understanding, I had no chance of understanding hip-hop history. The density of the rhyme scheme and lyrical content really does need to be read to be fully appreciated.
Mariska Hargitay was an odd choice for a majority of the book. I think it's misleading to list Lin-Manuel Miranda's name first as the narrator of this audiobook. Also, his section is simply reading the notes on the sides of the libretto portion of the book.
Probably better to just but the book.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
"Sometimes the right person tells the right story at the right moment, and though a combination of luck and design, a creative expression gains new force. Spark, tinder, breeze."
― Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy MCarter
I remember watching Lin-Manuel Miranda perform at the White House Poetry Jam back in 2009 on YouTube. I know it sounds cliched and probably a bit overplayed to say I knew from 2009 that something great was going to be made from this magical moment. There was an energy in this son of Puerto Rican-born parents singing a rap/hymn/ode to Alexander Hamilton that was both new and old.
Anyway, fast forward a couple years. I read the Chernow book, and loved it. Fast forward a couple more years and the musical came out. I got my daughter and wife into the musical. Bought my daughter the Chernow book, the CDs. She wants a Twitter account just so she can follow #ham4ham and @lin_miranda. Finally, I couldn't handle it all, so I figured the best way to extinguish a fire is sometimes to just set another. I bought our family tickets to go see the Musical in NY in July.
It is now less than 2 months until we see Hamilton. It will be about 1 year after they moved into the Rogers Theatre and most likely right after Hamilton cleans up at the Tony Awards. I bought this book which, btw, is beautifully made and organized and a sort of cheat-sheet, uber playbill for the musical. It is organized into 32 chapters and two acts. It roughly follows the Musical and history of the musical. It tells the story of the production. Each chapter contains a detail about the musical, written like a review or online article. One chapter discusses the choreography, another discusses the album, another discusses Daveed Diggs, another Ron Chernow. Each of these chapters gives a little bit more insight into the development of the Musical from one song played at the White House, to a Mix Tape of songs, to the Public Theatre, to the Richard Rogers Theatre. This is a book definitely for fans.
Each chapter also contains a libretto from one of the musical's songs AND Lin-Maneul Miranda's notes on the song/lyrics/music.
Anyway, the book is both a tribute to the musical and a tribute to the fact that Miranda seriously has more energy than anyone I can think of. His finger is in so many pies he must have stolen a couple extra hands. So, here is my recommendation. If you are a fan (and fans know who they are) you should probably buy this book. If not, do the following in something like this order:
1. Google/watch Miranda perform at the White House in 2009
2. Buy/Borrow/Download - Hamilton the Musical and listen to it. Then listen again.
3. Buy Chernow's book and read it cover to cover.
4. Buy This book.
5. Mortgage you home and go to NYC to see the musical.
I did deduct one star just because there were several points in this book where Jeremy MCarter's writing jumps deep into the pool of hagiography and propaganda. I expected with each new rough-cut page to discover that secretly Miranda and Hamilton the Musical had solved world hunger, AIDs, and America's race problems. It is clearly meant to be another piece for super-fans, but sometimes it just seemed to go a couple steps too far.
Mariska Hargitay's delivery was sort of like what first popped into your head when you heard there was a musical about Alexander Hamilton: why, though? And while learning more about Hamilton and its story and musical brilliance changed your mind, Hargitay's performance always left you wondering why.
Think Ben Stein as Ferris Bueller's economics teacher, but reading you a book.
The story of the creation of Hamilton: An American Musical is a fascinating one, in that despite the number of interviews, articles, and other pieces about the show that already exist, there is so much more for us to learn. This audiobook not only provides insight into each of the songs in and of themselves, but gives us perspective on when and how they were each written, as well as how the chreographer, director, producer, etc. had an impact on what we see on the stage. The #Hamiltome, as Lin calls it, is so much more than just annotated lyrics. We begin to understand the way not only Lin's background brought him to this point, but how the experiences of the lives of everyone on the team changed the show and brought it to life. There's insider info on what the cast was thinking and how they got into the show in the first place, as well as what writer Ron Chernow, the biographer, brought to discussions of the show, and what he felt made Lin's portrayal of Hamilton and Eliza in particular so brilliant. The book is one full of laughter and tears, heartache and exhilaration, and Mariska Hargitay's reading of it is masterful. I cannot recommend the book more highly. If you loved Hamilton before, this book will broaden that love. As a person who has been lucky enough to see the show, this book makes that experience far more meaningful in the context both of how the show came to be and of how much impact this show is having and will have on the future of the theater. If you're wondering what this Hamilton thing is even all about...this is such a great entry point to the show! If you have any interest at all in the making of a broadway production, much less of a broadway revolution, there is no better source than this book. Amazing, utterly satisfying, and the PDF provided alongside the audio with the lyrics and annotations is an absolute treasure. Absolute five stars on all accounts, must listen.
I love the show, I love the soundtrack, but the production quality of this recording is quite poor.
I think Mariska Hargitay does an admirable job, but I don't know if she is the most trained narrator? There are edits where her voice changes very noticeably between cuts and it's distracting. I think she does a very good job of capturing Lin's tone when giving quotes, and her over-all quality of reading is good, but it sounds too much like a rush job.
The last two chapters of this recording are Lin's notes on the show's lyrics themselves. This format doesn't work very well at all. He only reads the notes, and starts every one with the number, ala "One, bla bla bla. Two, bla bla bla", which I imagine can become pretty tiring when the notes stretch on towards the 100. Furthermore, as only the notes are read aloud and not the lyric the note is about, the over-all impression is confusion. Even though I've listened to the show umpteen times by now, I can't actually guess what each note refers to.
Overall, I don't think this recording works very well as a stand-alone work, and I would only listen to it as accompaniment while leafing through the physical book, or as a last resort, or perhaps for an easy recap once I've finished reading the physical book first.
The narration of the book was fine for the purpose, but the book itself was largely how "amazing" the writers are and self-promoting. If you are obsessed with the actual author of the soundtrack or musical then this might be for you.
Too detailed and not interesting. I I thought I was listening to the story of the play and it was more bragging about those who created it.
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