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Before the pandemic, Hamilton already ranked as one of if not the single most-popular musical on Broadway. When Disney+ added a recording of the show to its digital library, however, it became even more famous. And although the musical has found a new and even larger following, some viewers are critical rather than condoning of it.
Viewers have criticized the musical for its race-blind casting. This was done consciously on the part of its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, in order to tell an old story in a new and original way. Interestingly, though, this criticism does not come from conservatives who are dissatisfied with seeing actors of color portray white historical figures, but liberals who argue that this decision actually represents a step backward when it comes to issues of diversity and inclusivity.
Whilst appearing on Hamilton: History Has Its Eye On You, Odom Jr. addressed the complicated and somewhat counter-intuitive standpoint. “Lin wrote the story that was on his heart to write,” the actor said. “I signed on to be a part of the show that I believed in. That was our leg of the race.”
Those who argue that Hamilton hinders racial representation think so because the musical celebrates the stories of white statesmen rather than the people of color whom they ruled over. Odom Jr. does not necessarily disagree with that statement, but thinks Hamilton can still serve a social purpose.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that some young kid is going to look at Hamilton and write the show that makes what we did look quaint,” he says. “That might be happening at this very moment. A show’s going to come along that makes this look cute at some point.”
In other words, while Hamilton doesn’t reach the finish line, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. But tell us, what do you make of the criticism? As always, let us know down below.