NOT A BOOK REVIEW—HAMILTON AND SIX

Reading

As you may have noticed by now, I blog about writing, drawing and books. That’s it, pretty much…at least until now.

I spent this past weekend in New York City with my family, and we saw two shows—Hamilton and Six. After giving it some thought, though, I think this post is actually right at home here. The thing is, both of these shows are, for want of a better word, literary. Let me explain.

Hamilton has been around for long enough, and earned enough accolades, that even if you haven’t seen it, you probably have a general feel for what it is and what it’s about. Yes, it’s about Alexander Hamilton. But to me, most importantly, it’s about the power of words. The point is stressed, over and over again, that Hamilton both read and wrote obsessively. As one song says explicitly, Hamilton writes like he’s running out of time.

Not surprisingly for a show about the power of words, about the ability of language itself to inspire, ignite and rabble-rouse, Hamilton itself is drunk and besotted with words. The songs, many of them rapped, are dense with word-play, with rhymes inside of rhymes inside of rhymes. Lin Manuel Miranda is above all else a writer in every sense. This show must have more words per minute than any other show in Broadway history, and every word matters. Miranda has accomplished something rare and special here. I was going to say something really cheesy here, like he has not thrown away his shot, but that would be…well, I guess I just said it. Sorry.

Six is not nearly as well known. It started out in London, had a run in Chicago, and has only been on Broadway for a few weeks. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s how I describe it: Imagine if the six wives of Henry the Eighth were reincarnated as the Spice Girls and told their collective history, from their point of view, in song. Rather than rap, the songs are exuberant eighties pop, but they share similar DNA with the songs in Hamilton in that they’re clever, filled with word-play, and share a message of empowerment that’s sorely needed right now.

One other thing. Based on the crowd reaction, this show is going to be huge! I’m talking Beatlemania level excitement, which it well deserves.

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