Hamilton Teaches Us How to Say Goodbye
On Saturday evening, Hamilton lowered its curtain on three stars for the last time: creator and cultural phenom Lin-Manuel Miranda; Tony-winning Best Actor Leslie Odom, who embodied the Treasury Secretary’s lifelong foe and antagonist Aaron Burr; and Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, the woman who outlived her husband by fifty years and sought to tell his story. It seems fitting then, that 211 years ago today, Hamilton took his last stand against Vice President Aaron Burr in the duel that ended his life. Before #Javilton rides tonight (as Manuel’s successor Javier Muñoz takes over the titular role), let’s celebrate the best performances from these actors in the history-making musical’s original cast run. Don’t mind us – we’ll be over here sobbing into our keyboards.
Wait for It
A favorite even among the Hamilton cast, “Wait for It” introduces the audience to Burr’s inner monologue for the first time. Already set up as a foil to the impetuous, passionate Hamilton in “My Shot” and “Right Hand Man,” Burr reveals his philosophy on life, preferring to cautiously await his moment to shine. Put into perspective, we see that Hamilton’s meteoric rise from the bottom allows him “an endless uphill climb,” as opposed to Burr, who had so much more to lose from the beginning. The showstopper of the first act, “Wait for It” humanizes Burr, as well as offers a meditation on death and life itself.
One Last Time
Via @ChrisisSingin Twitter.
In this touching duet between President George Washington and his right-hand man, Hamilton, Washington reveals he won’t seek re-election and asks for help in bidding the American people farewell. The song is an emotive exchange between Hamilton, begging his mentor to continue his steadfast leadership, and Washington humbly refusing, wanting instead “a moment alone in the shade, at home in this Nation we’ve made.” After dedicating his life in service to his country, George Washington is going home. Miranda includes an excerpt from Washington’s actual farewell address to the nation, sung by Christopher Jackson, and echoed melodically by Hamilton. As you see reflected in King George’s “I Know Him,” a taunting reply to America’s changing of the guard, Washington’s most revolutionary act was stepping down, and this ballad preserves that indelible legacy.
From the stark, deliberately melancholic opening piano notes, “Burn” allows the audience to sharply feel Hamilton’s betrayal and the depth of Eliza’s pain. Her husband has completely humiliated her, willingly revealing his affair with Maria Reynolds to all of America, in order to rebut charges of embezzlement. Miranda has Eliza trace their love story through letters, from their early courtship where Hamilton charmed her with the poetry, building “palaces out of paragraphs.” But it is those same words Hamilton uses to destroy her, blinded by his paranoia to protect his legacy. Soo practically spits out the “You, you, you” chorus, as the scorned Eliza asserts her last measure of control over the narrative and burns all of Hamilton’s letters.
It's Quiet Uptown
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times/Redux.
In the aftermath of the second of Hamilton’s three duel sequences, Philip Hamilton dies after receiving a mortal wound defending his father's good name. After the fallout from the Reynolds pamphlet, the Hamiltons are plunged deeper into despair with the death of their firstborn. Narrated by Angelica, “It’s Quiet Uptown” details the grieving parents “going through the unimaginable.” This is a marked and specific change in the headstrong Hamilton’s character. Now stripped of all bravado, he heartbreakingly pleads with his wife to let him stay by her side as they begin to rebuild their lives – “that would be enough.”
Best of Wives and Best of Women
Though it’s the shortest track of 46-song double album, “Best of Wives and Best of Women” packs so much emotional punch in just 48 short seconds. Echoing the melody of the earlier “It’s Quiet Uptown,” the song marks Hamilton and Eliza’s final exchange before his ill-fated duel with Burr. The softness and intimacy with which the two whisper to each other in the early morning speaks to their deep love for one another, especially armed with the knowledge of all their marriage has been through – war, betrayal, the loss of a child. You can hear the wistfulness in Miranda’s voice as he tears himself away for his “meeting at dawn.” His last whisper to her echoes Hamilton’s final letter to his beloved Eliza, “Adieu, best of wives and best of Women.”
The World Was Wide Enough
Echoing the "Ten Duel Commandments," Burr takes us through that fateful July day in 1804, in grim anticipation of his ultimate victory and Hamilton's demise. You can hear Odom’s voice (and Burr’s mindset along with it) take on an increasing desperate quality, beginning to crack as he details Hamilton wearing his eyeglasses "in order to take deadly aim,” and practically crying aloud at the prospect of losing the duel and leaving Theodosia without a father. The action breaks as the shot is fired, and Miranda sings, without accompaniment, a reflection on Hamilton’s life. His frantic vocal paces count all his friends and loved ones that have preceded him in death, and he celebrates “America… [the] great unfinished symphony.” Odom soberly narrates the aftermath, reflecting on his own fallibility, his inevitable legacy as the villain, and the fact that maybe, history would have made room for both of them.
Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) is now streaming on Spotify.