It’s safe to say millions of Americans are feeling the excitement from Hamilton the Musical’s big debut on Disney Plus this weekend. And because it’s streaming indefinitely, our goosebumps probably won’t go away any time soon.
As a self-proclaimed Hamilton super-fan, I’ve seen the show twice (nosebleed seats count!), listened to the soundtrack with my kids at least a hundred times, and participated in multiple Hamiltunes sing-alongs (yes, they are a whole thing and I highly recommend). While I was just as excited as anyone to stream the original cast production on the small screen, I didn’t think I would see anything I hadn’t already. Turns out, there’s a reason Hamilton is widely considered a pop cultural phenomenon, having racked up 11 Tony Awards and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
In addition to exceptional writing and memorable cast performances, Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda packed the show with layers of details that even the most eagle-eyed fans sitting front-row in the Richard Rodgers Theatre might miss. Under the direction of famed Broadway director Thomas Kail, the film’s camera angling and strategic editing brought to light several previously-unrealized moments. Here are five delightful surprises that have the internet buzzing:
1. The Bullet
There is one main character who is often overlooked in what is possibly one of the most recognized casts of any Broadway production: The Bullet. Originally portrayed by Ariana Debose, The Bullet is considered a “secret character”, as she has few solo lines but is present during all the key scenes as a foreshadow to the death of main characters, including of Hamilton himself. In the soundtrack, there is no way of knowing where the Bullet is at any given time, and during the stage production, the eye tends to gravitate toward other characters. But in the film adaptation, Debose’s performance is front and center, and will leave you riddled with anxiety as she inches closer to Hamilton throughout the show.
2. King George’s Trolling
There’s little doubt that King George provides the comic relief during Hamilton, breaking up the party with three solo performances to remind the audience that he’s the reason this whole “American Revolution” started to begin with. But aside from his emboldened, spit-filled performances, he also creeps into the backdrop of other key moments to poke fun at the characters. During The Adams Administration, he plops down on the stairs and gleefully shimmies as Burr lists the ways in which Hamilton is about to “destroy his reputation.” He then joins the celebration during The Reynolds Pamphlet, prancing and tossing pamphlets into the air as Hamilton realizes his political career is over. King George is a hilarious troll, which is both surprising and surprisingly on-brand for the scorned monarch.
3. Rewinding Satisfied
The song Satisfied is one of the most complex musical and visual scenes in the show, if not in any Broadway production. The song shows Angelica Schuyler, played by Renée Elise Goldsberry, rehashing a prior scene where she introduces her sister, Eliza (Phillipa Soo), to her future husband, Hamilton. At the beginning, as she’s giving a toast at the couple’s wedding, she pauses and literally rewinds the moment, then replays it from her perspective (the first time around was Eliza’s POV). The combination of Renée’s stunning vocals, innovative lighting, and crafty stage production make the flashback work especially well in the film adaptation. When the theatrical genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda tweets his pride at the song’s success, you know you’re watching a history-making scene.
4. A Look Inside the Hurricane
The song Hurricane is a decision-making moment for Alexander Hamilton. Like Satisfied, it’s styled as a flashback scene, with Hamilton hyper-analyzing every moment of his life up until that point. It’s this frenzied, memory-driven ballad that leads to his ill-fated decision to publish the Reynolds Pamphlet, a public confession of his extramarital affair that ultimately ends Hamilton’s career and breaks his wife’s heart — and ours — wide open. The scene paints Hamilton’s manic thoughts with key moments and characters circling him on the moving stage, capturing, as Miranda describes it, “a cat scan of his brain.”
5. All the Tears
No matter how close your seats are in the theatre, it’s impossible to see every nuanced emotion evoked from the impressive cast. The film’s close-up perspective puts us, quite literally, in the room where it happens, which provides us a clearer understanding of each character’s motivations. I was surprised by how much I empathized with Burr during the film viewing, solely because Leslie Odom Jr. is a fantastic actor and you could see the vulnerability in his face, something I couldn’t see from the balcony of the Richard Rodgers Theatre or hear on the soundtrack.
Eliza Hamilton’s Second Act moments were somehow even more soul-crushing in the film, with Burn, It’s Quiet Uptown, and the final number, Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story leaving me hysterically weeping in my popcorn, a testament to Phillipa Soo’s heartbreaking portrayal of one of the most beloved characters in Hamilton.
Hamilton is continuing to stream for the foreseeable future, so there’s still plenty of time to be awestruck by the film version of the Broadway sensation. If you don’t have Disney Plus, it’s absolutely worth subscribing right now. Trust me, it will change your life.