Hamilton is no longer just an American sensation. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit Broadway Musical opened last week in London, at the Historical Victoria Palace Theatre. The musical has been met with five-star reviews from the London media, crossing a cultural boundary with little resistance.
Manuel didn’t sense much difference from the audiences across the Atlantic.
“I was here for all of tech (rehearsals) and I was here for the first few previews, and the audience is exactly like New York,” he said.
Miranda believes that making the jump to London would make Alexander Hamilton smile. “Alexander Hamilton had so much admiration for Britain and Europe but never left US soil. So to have his story on the stage here in London, well – I think he would be very proud.”
The overwhelming response of London wasn’t a slam dunk. Some wondered if a story about the Founding Fathers of America, fighting for their independence from Britain would resonate as deeply with London crowds. But the London success points to the reality that this story resonates with audiences, even across national and cultural boundaries.
Matt Trueman writes in his Variety review, “Hamilton is going to be just fine here in London”¦Reviewing it feels like sizing up the Mona Lisa or Beethoven’s Fifth and, in truth, Hamilton lands on the London stage looking every inch the classic.”
He closes his review with the thought that “it is Hamilton’s story that stirs.”
Hamilton’s story does indeed stir something powerful in us, a point I make in my upcoming book, God, and Hamilton: Spiritual Themes From The Life of Alexander Hamilton & the Broadway Musical He Inspired.
One universal reason this musical stirs audiences so deeply is that Hamilton’s story is a deeply spiritual one. His story intersects with our lives across a number of significant spiritual themes.
His story is a story of grace, as his entire life in America was made possible by a generous financial gift by someone who saw great potential in him. His story is a story of shame, as he never quite escaped the stigma from being an illegitimate orphan. His story is a story of forgiveness, as his wife Eliza wrestled through forgiving Alexander for betraying her in the worst possible way. His story is a story of redemption, as the musical ends with Eliza singing about the orphanage she built out of love for her late husband.
This story stirs us because it is a spiritual story. It stirs us because it is our story. We too live our lives built on the foundation of grace. We too struggle mightily with shame from our failures and shortcomings. We too must give and receive forgiveness for all the mistakes we make in our lives. Hopefully, our story is one of redemption, where God takes all the broken pieces of our lives and makes them beautiful.
The story Hamilton tells stirs audiences, no matter the culture, the nationality, the race. It does so because it tells a deeply spiritual story, one that intersects with our lives, and has the power to transform our lives if we let it.
Even, apparently, across the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.