If Hamilton seems an unlikely subject for a musical, keep in mind that this isn’t the first time somebody has set the Founders to music and put them on a stage. One of the all-time best films about the Revolution originated as a Broadway show.
The first time I saw the movie version of 1776, it was totally by accident. This was back when I was a teenager, before I’d developed any kind of serious interest in history. In the summer I used to stay up to watch Letterman and the other talk shows, and then I’d flip through the channels for a while before dozing off. One night (or in the wee hours of the morning, I suppose) I happened to land on a movie channel right before 1776 came on.
Next thing I knew the stodgy figures from all those old paintings were alive—bickering about the heat, swapping insults, longing for their wives, and occasionally bursting out in song. It humanized the Founders without diminishing their achievement, it was hilarious without trivializing the events it depicted, and it somehow made the unfolding of history seem contingent and uncertain.
I don’t know why I got such a kick out of it; I wasn’t a fan of American history or musicals at the time. But now that I look back, seeing that movie was one of the things that got me interested in the American Revolution. Seeing 1776 didn’t turn me into a history nut overnight, but it was definitely a step along the road to where I am now. Maybe if I’d been in the habit of going to bed at a decent hour, I’d be in a different line of work.
On a related note, the Spanish version of Evita with Paloma San Basilio is so good it’ll knock you right on your keister.