Siena College theater expert weighs in on ‘Hamilton’: Local ties, controversy, and streaming for TV


CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Dr. Krysta Dennis, Creative Arts Producer at Siena College, says she is excited to see the Broadway phenomenon “Hamilton” hit the small screen, because many people can’t typically afford shows this popular.

“Broadway,” Dr. Dennis explained, “is a very capitalistic enterprise, so the ticket prices went way up.”

When the show came to Proctors Theatre in Schenectady last year, lines wrapped around the block for tickets. The show was already a major attraction for its great reviews, and its strong historical ties to Albany made it even more exciting for local theatregoers.

“This area is so steeped in revolutionary history,” Dr. Dennis said.

In Albany, Alexander Hamilton met his wife Elizabeth Schuyler. He returned to the city many times, his family moving between the Capital Region, Philadelphia, and New York City.

Hamilton has been praised for its catchy soundtrack and multi-ethnic portrayals of the founding fathers.

“The color conscious casting that was employed in the show [is] Lin Manuel Miranda’s concept of America now telling the story of America then,” Dr. Dennis said.

The show’s creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, is an advocate for diversity on stage. However, critics say his show ignores that several of its key characters were slave owners, including Major General Philip Schuyler, Hamilton’s father-in-law, whose statue is the center of controversy in Albany.

Communities and city leaders in Albany want to see the Philip Schuyler statue moved from outside City Hall because they say it’s a painful reminder of the unfortunate history of our nation, as Schuyler was reportedly Albany’s largest slave-owner in his day. Dr. Dennis says Schuyler and other characters in Hamilton, including the title character himself, didn’t always have totally progressive ideals as we consider them today, which isn’t shown in the musical.

“[The musical] does buy into this ‘great man’ theory; this way of telling the story of history that we are really moving past now. We’re [now] thinking about all the circumstances that create a historic situation,” Dr. Dennis explained.

Dr. Dennis thinks either way, it has made young minds more interested in U.S. History, and has made genres of music, like Rap and R&B more accessible to audiences who might not gravitate toward them otherwise.

“Hamilton” starts streaming on Disney Plus on July 3.

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