“HAMILTON” MASS APPEAL; CLASSIC TV WITH “THE SAINT”
A TV Review by Tim Riley
“HAMILTON” ON DISNEY+
Notching just shy of 2,000 Broadway performances before coronavirus shut down the Richard Rodgers theatre in mid-March, the musical “Hamilton” had become a cultural phenomenon that appeared destined to run forever.Having captured the stage production of “Hamilton” on film, which is a rather infrequent exercise under any circumstances, the musical was immortalized for posterity in 2016 to capture the original Broadway cast.
“Hamilton” had been scheduled for a theatrical release in late 2021, but Disney made a seemingly wise business decision to launch the film on Disney Plus, thereby handing its streaming service a significant boost in the number of subscribers.As a musical, “Hamilton” features an exciting, innovative score that blends rap, hip-hop, jazz, and rhythm and blues, with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show creator and actor who is also the titular character.To capture the energy of the stage production, the filming took place during a couple of live performances along with a session in an empty house that allowed for close-ups and shots from the rear of the stage.Beginning with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury, the leading performers form an interesting color-blind cast, with the notable exception of Jonathan Groff’s King George.Born out of wedlock on the Caribbean island of Nevis and orphaned as a child, Hamilton leaves his home at a young age to emigrate to New York at the precipice of the American Revolution.
When Hamilton arrives in America, among the first people he meets are eventual rival Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr., Tony Award winner for Best Actor in a Musical) and the Marquis de Lafayette (Daveed Diggs), and as a group they avow a revolutionary fervor against the Crown.An amusing interlude has the preening, imperious King George insisting on his authority for the colonies, realized in the song “You’ll Be Back,” a flippant counterpunch to the colonist’s rebellion.A man of serious intellect and ambition who later co-authored “The Federalist Papers,” Hamilton becomes the right-hand man to General George Washington (Christopher Jackson), and later a pivotal figure at the Siege of Yorktown.
It’s not all war, politics and economics for Hamilton. His personal life is detailed in a romance with Phillipa Soo’s Eliza, one of the wealthy Schuyler sisters, that blossoms into marriage, which later turns rocky after his affair with a married woman.As Aaron Burr resents Hamilton’s rise in the government and his sway with President Washington, the inevitable day of reckoning comes, leaving Burr with a tarnished legacy of a villain.There is a school of thought so enthralled with “Hamilton” as to believe in its educational value for history. Sure, the musical is based on historical events and real people, but as with supposedly fact-based stories dramatic license is taken.
Whatever liberties appropriated by Lin-Manuel Miranda in creating a historical account, “Hamilton” is a masterpiece of theatre that now comes alive for a wider audience that would find the price of Broadway ducats a little too steep.
“THE SAINT” CLASSIC TV ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
The ongoing lockdown of multiplexes is allowing me to have a greater appreciation of classic television shows, leading to a viewing habit that may not go away once liberated from the figurative basement.At the moment on Amazon Prime Video, I am indulging in episodes of “The Saint,” a British show that starred the charismatic Roger Moore as the suave playboy and adventurer Simon Templar with enough free time on his hands to solve murders or help aggrieved parties.“The Saint” is very much of its time during its six-season run during the Sixties, with its first four seasons in glorious black and white episodes set in plenty of daytime action, in contrast to the nighttime “Peter Gunn” series written about last week.
With his wit and charm and physical prowess in abundant slugfests with assorted villains, Roger Moore’s effortless, breezy performance of a rogue with a moral code underscores how easily he later slipped into the role of James Bond.Templar may be a man of mystery, but he’s often introduced as “the famous Simon Templar” and a halo appears over his head as he speaks directly to the audience to clue them in on the plausibility of his newest adventure in some exotic locale.From Rome to Monaco to Paris and beyond, Templar is recognized everywhere as if he might be a head of state. It’s a pretty good guess that British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan of that era lacked public recognition of that same magnitude.More often than not, Templar is also known to the local authorities, and not always in a good way. The inevitable friction with the police adds to the excitement of Templar’s go-it-alone approach to solving a crime.With each episode a standalone story, there’s little doubt that no matter how dire the circumstances for our sainted hero, Templar is unfailing in solving the mystery.“The Saint” proves to a heavenly entertainment in a fantasy world of criminal mischief.