Historians wonder if the real Alexander Hamilton is getting free stage pass

Christopher Jackson, left, as George Washington and Javier Munoz as Alexander Hamilton in the musical “Hamilton.” Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Christopher Jackson, left, as George Washington and Javier Munoz as Alexander Hamilton in the musical “Hamilton.” Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Everyone loves “Hamilton,” even historians, according to a recent NYTimes article. But the simmering debate is how much of the musical is accurate.

Founding Father Alexander Hamilton
Founding Father Alexander Hamilton

It’s a Broadway musical, not a documentary, and was inspired by the 2004 biography “Alexander Hamilton” by historian Ron Chernow. You can’t squeeze a book into a 2 1/2 musical about this Founding Father.

Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of history and law at Harvard and the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of “The Hemingses of Monticello,” put it more bluntly, wrote 

“One of the most interesting things about the ‘Hamilton’ phenomenon,” she wrote last week on the blog of the National Council on Public History, “is just how little serious criticism the play has received.

 Gordon-Reed was responding to a critical essay by Lyra D. Monteiro, in the journal The Public Historian, arguing that the show’s multiethnic casting obscures the almost complete lack of identifiable African-American characters, making the country’s founding seem like an all-white affair.

“It’s an amazing piece of theater, but it concerns me that people are seeing it as a piece of history,”  Monteiro, an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University, Newark, said in an interview.

To read the complete article, click here.

News and views of New Jersey's regional theaters, and bits about Broadway.

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