“Our biggest issue has always been accessibility,” lauded created and star of Broadway’s Hamilton Lin Manuel Miranda told Good Morning America recently. Since 2015, Richard Rodgers Theatre on West 46th in New York City has always seen a packed sidewalk with showgoers lining up to see the Pulitzer prize-winning musical.
Unless you were Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Hamilton tickets were near impossible to nab – and if they were, you were looking at $900. It just wasn’t an option for everyone.
A year after its opening – and still with its original cast, all of which were mostly made up of African Americans and Latinos playing the four founding fathers of America – nine cameras were installed around the theater to film a Sunday matinee and a Tuesday evening. In between that, the cast performed 13 of the 46 numbers with a dolly-mounted camera and a crane following them about the wooden stage.
The footage was then edited and stitched together to make a 161-minute film which was set for release in October of 2021. But as Miranda puts it, “in light of the world turning upside down,” Disney – the powerhouse distributing the film – decided to release it 15 months earlier via its streaming service Disney+.
“No other artistic work in the last decade has had the cultural impact of Hamilton,” Disney Executive Chairman Robert A. Iger said in a statement. “In light of the extraordinary challenges facing our world, this story about leadership, tenacity, hope, love and the power of people to unite against the forces of adversity is both relevant and impactful.”
From July 3, anybody with Disney+ will be able to watch Hamilton from their living room.
The show chronicles the life and death of Alexander Hamilton (played by Miranda). For the uninitiated, the entire musical is rapped – and this film will include every song, every scene and even the intermission. But what it won’t include is the swear words. Miranda had those muted over to attain a PG rating in the US and “so the kids could see it,” he said in a tweet.
“I didn’t want to pretend we weren’t in the theater,” Thomas Kail who directed the stage production and the film told the New York Times. “That’s why you hear the audience and see the audience a little bit. I wanted to create a document that could feel like what it was to be in the theater at that time.”
“Now more than ever we need to see representation onscreen, and to use ‘Hamilton’ as a way, once again, to hold up a mirror to ourselves and ask who we are as a society, and what we want to be,” Phillipa Soo told the New York Times (she stars as Hamilton’s wife, Eliza). “As much as we are grappling with the things that are very flawed in our country, I hope it gets people excited about what it means to be an American.”
Hamilton will stream on Disney+ worldwide on July 3. Sign up to Disney+ here.