If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Phenomenon of Broadway’s Hamilton

by Paula Gail Benson

I’m a musical theater geek. I freely admit it. Last year, when The Wall Street Journal presented a video identifying all the snippets from musical shows contained in the number “A Musical” from Broadway’s Something Rotten (about two playwriting brothers who compete with William Shakespeare and happen to create the first musical), I was thrilled to check which of the twenty references I had recognized and which I had missed. (Thanks to that video, I could finally hear the opening notes from “Hello Dolly.”)

This year’s Broadway mega-hit is Hamilton, a rap, hip-hop, jazz, pop, and contemporary Broadway musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton based on the 832 page biography by Ron Chernow. Hamilton’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda received a MacArthur “Genius” award and the Pulitzer Prize. The musical was nominated for 16 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Awards and won 11, including 2 for Miranda’s book and score. The Broadway production continues to have extremely limited tickets available. People pay $10 to enter a lottery in hopes of winning a front row seat. While they wait outside to hear if they won, they are entertained by #Ham4Ham performances featuring cast members and other artists. One popular #Ham4Ham appearance featured the three actors who had played King George (a comic relief role) taking on the women’s roles to sing “The Schuyler Sisters,” the joyous expression of three main female characters who find the Revolution on their doorstep in “the greatest city in the world,” New York.

"The Schuyler Sisters"
I haven’t had the opportunity to see a production yet, but I’ve heard glowing reports from those who have. And, thankfully, the videos on the website and YouTube let us out-of-towners live vicariously until we have the chance to see the show in its entirety.

#Ham4Ham Georges' version of "The Shuyler Sisters"
Hamilton’s journey into being is chronicled in a 288-page book titled Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. I splurged to get the audio version. McCarter’s narrative is read by Mariska Hargitay (Olivia Benson on NBC’s Law and Order: SVU). Her vocals are the perfect choice to convey the New York City atmosphere. Lin-Manuel Miranda reads his own notes that supplement the text and add additional background information.

True to my musical theater geekdom, I wish I had this book in high school when I dreamed of working in the musical theater and wondered how to break into that world. It describes the complete process of creation, how the collaboration began and continued. While being a fascinating backstage account, it also tells life stories of those involved in the production. Part of the charm is in seeing how the events happening in the present dovetailed with the past being portrayed to add to the poignancy of the show. Reading (or hearing) how the births or illness of the collaborators’ children influenced the lyrics provides a new level of understanding for the work.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and cast
I had little familiarity with rap or hip-hop when I began studying the lyrics for Hamilton. I have since developed a respect for the rhythms and the patois of the language.

According to Hamilton: The Revolution, the musical has a larger word count than some of Shakespeare’s plays. The lyrics to each song, along with an audio recording, are available on the website genius.com. Here’s a link to the opening number “Alexander Hamilton.” Included on genius.com are annotations and commentary, some by Lin-Manuel Miranda and other collaborators and some by fans. It’s fascinating to see how the music was developed and the effects it has had on its listeners.

The truly amazing aspect of Hamilton’s creative process is the collaborators seeking to present a historically accurate portrait that would resonate with young audiences. Ron Chernow became a trusted advisor for the show. Before the production came to Broadway, it was performed for many high school audiences, who studied both the history and the modern interpretation.

While becoming a phenomenal success, Hamilton also has invigorated people’s appreciation of both musicals and history. It’s opened eyes to information and presentation.

Have you ever watched a play or movie that captured your imagination so that you wanted to know more? Have you been amazed to discover what you can learn when you seek that additional information?


Kait said...

Hamilton is one play that makes me wish I lived closer to a town with a performing arts theater. It sounds wonderful.

Jim Jackson said...

I saw the film “Z” in 1969 or 1970. It is about an assassination of a Greek politician shortly before the army’s coup that overthrew civilian government. It caused me to want to learn more about Greece’s history. (You’d think I would have known since I grew up in the town of Greece, NY, which in 1822 was named in support of the Greek revolution (1821-1832) from the Ottoman Empire.)

Shari Randall said...

When I was watching Downton Abbey, I read all I could about the history of the time period it was set in. The excitement surrounding Hamilton makes me want to read the biography on which the show is based - all 832 pages.

Margaret Turkevich said...

Eventually I'll get to see Hamilton. It sounds wonderful.

I always read up on a show before we see it. Last fall we enjoyed "Carousel" at U.Cincinnati CCM with wonderful vocal performances, superb dance numbers, and imaginative staging. I thought of all the other great Broadway musicals and what a great tradition we have.

Julie Tollefson said...

i bought the Hamilton soundtrack and I love it. I've listened to it, oh, maybe a thousand times? And it never gets old. Like Shari, I'd like to read the biography - someday. 832 pages is a little daunting.

Grace Topping said...

It probably won't be that long before we start hearing about touring companies of "Hamilton." It sounds like it's going to have a long run.

Warren Bull said...

I remember having my spirits lifted by a performance of Camelot.

Anonymous said...

I hope and pray a traveling company will bring this play to our Broadway Series at the Koger.

Gloria Alden said...

I love everything musical. Well, almost everything, but especially musical theater. I so wish I lived close enough to seeing Hamilton, and can't wait until it goes on the road. One of my favorite musicals will always be "Fiddler on the Roof."

KM Rockwood said...

Hope you get to see the show soon!

We have "summer stock" theater (Totem Pole Playhouse)nearby. For years, the late Jean Stapleton took an avid interest in it. We used to have season tickets, but lately have just been going to the shows that interest us.

Live theater has such a different feel from video presentations. You can feel the electricity in the air!

Paula Gail Benson said...

Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment. Live theater is such an important part of our cultural experience. PBS also. I hope we'll always have support for the arts.