Fall 2017 TV Rookies To Watch

It’s that time of year again! Kids are going back to school, and we’re going back to our regularly scheduled programming. Well, new programming that is.

Every year, we break down which fairly new actors in new shows you should pay attention to (see: Chrissy Metz, Bryan Tyree Henry, Donna Lynne Champlin and Priyanka Chopra). This year’s talent is no different, and we can’t wait to see them at work. Which rookies are you most excited to see?

Brandon Micheal Hall {The Mayor}

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Previous Work: Search Party, Broad City

Why You Should Watch Him: Brandon Micheal Hall plays young rapper Courtney Rose, who decides to run for public office as a publicity stunt. Except he ends up winning and becomes The Mayor. Brandon is charming and charismatic both as the character and as an actor – it’s no wonder why he won the popular vote. He’s also got a strong bench on the screen with Yvette Nicole Brown as his mom and Lea Michele as a rival campaign manager, but also off – one of the executive producers is Hamilton’s own Daveed Diggs.

When You Can Watch Him: Tuesdays @ 9:30pm on ABC (watch the trailer here)

Iain Armitage {Young Sheldon}

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Previous Work: Big Little Lies, The internet

Why You Should Watch Him: Speaking of Hamilton and Daveed, enter nine-year-old Iain Armitage, who Broadway nerds might know as his online persona, Iain Loves Theatre. Don’t know him as that? Watch him rapping at a #Ham4Ham with an assist from Daveed. Or you might know him as Shailene Woodley’s son on Big Little Lies. He’s only nine but going from BLL to a starring role in a network spinoff show of one of the most popular sitcoms ever, yeah, Iain’s not doing too bad. And he deserves all of it.

When You Can Watch Him: Mondays @ 8:30pm on CBS (watch the trailer here)

Bobby Moynihan {Me, Myself and I }

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Previous Work: Saturday Night Live, Sisters, When In Rome

Why You Should Watch Him: Not gonna lie I was pretty sad when one of my fave cast members left SNL, but like the Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader before him, he had to leave in order to get the proper stardom he deserved. In Bibby’s first starring TV role, he plays the middle aged version of Alex, a character we see at 9, 40, and 65 years old. Of course we all known Bobby’s hilarious, but he’s also got a ~sensitive side too, and that comes through just in the first look. While CBS comedies usually have a bad track record in my book, I’m hoping this one sticks around.

When You Can Watch Him: Mondays @ 9:30pm on CBS (watch the trailer here)

Anthony Ramos {She’s Gotta Have It}

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Previous Work: Hamilton, Younger, Law & Order: SVU, my dreams

Why You Should Watch Him: Never forget this tweet from Lin-Manuel Miranda in 2014: “This is Anthony Ramos. You don’t know him yet, but boy, will you. Kid’s a star.” Cut to a life-changing role in Hamilton, a role in Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born remake, and a new (old?) Spike Lee joint, all making this kid from Brooklyn a true star. The trailer that’s out now isn’t that good, but Anthony’s scene made me smile obnoxiously to myself, and if he can make me do that in 45 seconds, he’s bound to do that for all of us with an entire TV series.

When You Can Watch Him: The entire season comes out on Thursday, November 23rd on Netflix (watch the trailer here)

Josh Hutcherson {Future Man}

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Previous Work: The Hunger Games franchise, Journey to the Center of the Earth franchise, The Kids Are All Right

Why You Should Watch Him: The movie stars just keep coming over to TV. And for the bread boy, he opted to go with a reliable streaming service in Hulu with an even more reliable premise: he plays a time-travelling janitor who’s attempting to change the future without messing up the past. Does this mean it’s an alternate dystopia and he WON’T act like a lil bitch in The Hunger Games?

When You Can Watch Him: The entire season comes out on Thursday, November 13th on Netflix (watch the trailer here)

Sarah Gadon {Alias Grace}

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Previous Work: 11.22.63, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Belle

Why You Should Watch Her: I don’t think I’ve ever seen this talented woman on screen before, but judging by the trailer for this show, I am all freaking in. Margaret Atwood (who wrote the novel Alias Grace is based from) is having a great year.

When You Can Watch Him: The entire season comes out on Friday, November 3rd on Netflix (watch the trailer here)

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Best Dressed: Tony Awards 2016

I swore we weren’t going to do this – devote yet another post to the 2016 Tony Awards, broadly, or Hamilton, generally – so soon, but the truth is, I’m not over it yet. The awards, the speeches, the performances – it was all too much and days later, I’m still sorting it all out as though it’s something that happened to ME and not just on my TV. So I hope you’ll forgive it, but it’s been four days and we still haven’t talked about outfits yet. I’m not in the mood for worst dressed because everyone looked fantastic, so here are a few of my favorites:

Lupita Nyong’o in Hugo Boss

Remember in the 80s and 90s when ladies would get their “seasons done” and go around telling you that they were a winter or whatever? Maybe I got that from Steel Magnolias or something? In any case, I love when Lupita wears cheerful spring-y, summer-y colors, probably because it goes so well with her overall fresh as a daisy-type look. I would love to get a closer look at this material because it’s sequined but doesn’t look too glitzy.

Phillipa Soo in Prabal Gurung

Over the course of the appearances and awards circuit for Hamilton, Phillipa has hit the nail on the head with everything from casual outfits to more dressed-up looks for interviews to formal gowns. Basically, I’d like her entire closet, thanks. She looks great in brighter blues and reds, too, but this white is absolutely stunning. The pop on the shoes is just the thing when you’re a Tony nominee, but also still in your mid-20s and able to be a little playful with it.

Laura Benanti in Oscar de la Renta

You know what? Maybe I SHOULD be one of those 1980s mall ladies who tells you what season you’re made of (still not sure how it works), because it is all about color with all of these dresses. This purple-magenta shade is beautiful but more than that, it makes Laura’s skin and eyes glow. It also takes the high-necked, lacy gown out of mother of the bride territory and keeps in firmly in the youthful starlet realm.

Sophie Okonedo in Zac Posen

Stop the presses. Or whatever the internet has. Balancing an avante garde cut on the shoulders and cuffs with a large, busy print – WITHOUT the whole look seeming over the top or loud or overpowering? It’s all down to the overall simplicity of the structure here, but it’s still no easy feat.

Lucy Liu in Zuhair Murad

The Tonys are one of the only awards shows firmly in the spring-summer months, and lighter looks like this are just perfect this time of year (sure, I know it’s usually warm weather at the Oscars and Golden Globes, but some colors and fabrics still feel seasonally ‘off’ in the winter). This couldn’t be more perfect for June, and that beading and that color — it’s like what angels would wear if they didn’t have to wear white.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Zuhair Murad

When I was a kid, I had a dance performance where we were instructed to wear a “party dress.” And I was kind of like, okay, what exactly is a party dress?

THIS. This is a damn party dress. It looks like confetti and moonlight.

(I think I just wore, like, an Easter-y dress.)

Cynthia Erivo

You already know that Cynthia can do no wrong in our book. And that we would have loved whatever she wore. But there’s something so amazing about choosing a dress that looks like an actual work of art over something that’s less interesting but more ‘pretty.’ The risk paid off, and she looks incredible.

Adrienne Warren in Alberta Ferretti

Love it. Love that it’s not long, love the beaded fringe, love the little clutch, love the loose hair. The only thing I don’t love: that I can’t afford this dress.

(Honest truth: I have a wedding next week where the theme is ‘1920s Hollywood Glam’ and it turns out nothing I own is particularly 1920s Hollywood Glam, sorry friends, it just isn’t, but this would be perfect.)

Pascale Armand in Delpozo

I love that this subverts the whole chiffon skirt/ satin-y bodice thing we’re so used to, and the colors and embroidery are to die for. We can add Pascale to the very short list of people who look wonderful in dark purple-y lipstick.

Renee Elise Goldsberry

It looks like Renee picked a different dress for the red carpet, but this is the gown that she decided to win in, and that’s exactly what it is: a gown to win in. The yellow and black combo is unexpected and very pretty and possibly a subtle nod to Broadway playbills? But probably not.

Daveed Diggs

I have no clue what’s going on but I like it?

Playlist of the Month: HamilCast Cover Songs

Welcome to Day 2 of #Hamilweek! Today we’re incorporating out recurring Playlist of the Month feature with all things Hamilton, and what better way to feature the cast members than showing off their beautiful voices? And we’re not just talking about the leads. The bench on this show runs deep. Like, members of the ensemble have had their own leading roles like Elphaba in Wicked. These folks do not play. Here are just some examples of the cast’s wonderful talents, wrapped in glorious cover songs you probably already know.

Joy to the World by Various Cast Members

For nearly two decades, Broadway starts record classic holiday tunes for an album called Carols for a Cure, and the proceeds to towards Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. For the 2015 edition, Leslie Odom, Jr. led a new arrangement of Joy to the World, with additional lyrics from Oak Onaodowan. With the help of 11 other cast members, the squad makes an overplayed Christmas carol refreshing again and uplifts your spirit any time of the year.

Bet On It by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Back in the In The Heights days, Lin was as active on the YouTube as he is on Twitter today. Ok, maybe not that active, but still. He had enough time to make short movies like this one, which is technically not a cover song, but a parody of the High School Musical 2 classic Bet On It, as performed by Zac Efron. For context, Lin made this to promote the transfer of In The Heights from The Public to the Broadway – ironically to the Richard Rodgers Theater where Hamilton currently plays. The sound is evident Lin made this at home on his computer (much like his Hamilton demos), but the comparison to HSM is pretty spot on. Also he’s a huge dork. Also also once you finish watching this and finish freaking out over the surprise cameos, watch this.

Anything Goes by Jonathan Groff

Speaking of the oh so cute Jonathan Groff, it’s important you know he was, is, and always will be a Sutton Foster fangirl. So when he did the annual Miscast benefit (in which Broadway stars sing parts they’ll never get) he naturally chose a role Sutton was in at the time, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. The title song involves a lot of tap dancing on Reno’s part, and Groffsauce was up for the challenge. He continues to be the cutest.

Good For You by Leslie Odom, Jr. featuring Daveed Diggs

I’m like 95.3% sure I got pregnant after listening to this for the first time. I mean, it’s been months and I don’t have a baby keeping me up at night, so maybe not really. I’m just saying, as much as you try to prepare yourself for this, you’ll never be. PS: If you’re a Spring Awakening fan, also listen to Leslie’s cover of The Guilty Ones. That song might get you preggo too. Thanks, LOJ.

Higher Love/Rather Be/Human Nature by Jasmine Cephas Jones and Anthony Ramos

Talk about couple goals. Jasmine and Anthony are Hamilton’s true (offstage) love story, and while they don’t get to duet in the show, their voices are beautifully blended together in this mash-up by Hamilton associate conductor Kurt Crowley. Not to sound too stalkery – a thing all stalkers say – I would pay to watch these two just casually singing around the house. Can you imagine?

Ego/Too Close/Back That Thang Up by Phillipa Soo

If you haven’t heard of The Skivvies, this probably looks weird. If you have, probs not as weird. The Skivvies is made up of  Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, who perform literal stripped down versions of hit songs and thrown in originals of their own. Here we have the beautifully bare Pippa Soo, killing a Bey song and in sparkly hot pants no less. What a dream.

Brave by Alysha Deslorieux

Ok, so remember how I said the bench is deep on this show? Say hello to Alysha. She is a standby for all the female leads/Schuyler sisters: Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy/Maria, so if any of them are out, she steps right on in. And it’s easy to see why. She’s a vocal powerhouse and able to evoke emotion through her tone, as seen in this cover of Sara Bareilles’ Brave. Now just imagine her singing Burn.

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Sydney Harcourt

Moving right along, Sydney is an ensemble member who plays the Doctor, Philip Schuyler, James Reynolds, and he also understudies for Burr and Washington. Word on the street is that he’s killed it as Washington, even saving the day when Chris Jackson got some allergic reaction and had to pull out after Act I! Anyways, here is Sydney singing Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Ella Fitzgerald and it’s easy to see why he understudies for Mr. Silky Smooth Leslie Odom, Jr.

Ladies Who Lunch by Ariana DeBose

Ariana is also an ensemble member who’s lovingly nicknamed The Bullet, because *semi-spoiler alert* the duel between A.Ham and Burr involves a cast member acting as the actual Bullet used to kill Hamilton. I KNOW. And Ariana is just as fiery as her onstage counterpart (see what I did there?). First of all, if she looks familiar, it’s because she was a contestant on the underrated and underwatched sixth season of So You Think You Can Dance. She was also in Bring It On the Musical, which Lin also wrote, Motown the Musical and Pippin. I never knew she had a voice/could act until I saw her in Bring It On, and with a cover of Sondheim’s tricky Ladies Who Lunch from Company, it’s clear why she’s on Broadway so often.

Never Can Say Goodbye by Austin Smith

Like Sydney, Austin is also an ensemble member who covers tracks for Burr and Washington, as well as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison. I couldn’t find any other vids of him singing, so here’s a low quality Ham4Ham of him singing Michael Jackson and I just want him to appear in more Ham4Hams. Or be in the cast still when we see it in T- four months. !

Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Diggs

Hear ye, hear ye! The Hamiltome is finally here! For those non-Hamilfans, that translates into the Hamilton: The Revolution book, which is basically the Hamilton libretto with margin notes from precious cinnamon roll Lin-Manuel Miranda throughout. Ironically (or maybe not ironically), the arrival of the book comes a day before what would have been Thomas Jefferson’s 273rd birthday. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. And while I’m waiting for my copy of the Hamiltome to arrive, I figured we could look back at the legacy left by Thomas Jefferson. And by Thomas Jefferson, I mean Daveed Diggs, because our country’s third president was the definition of “your fave is problematic”.

Quick recap on America’s founding father Thomas Jefferson

  • Primary author of Declaration of Independence.
  • He was an aristocrat who owned 7,500 acres of land in Virginia. Thus he believed owning land was the only real wealth in the country, and that farming was the best job ever. That’d be like of Farmer Chris from The Bachelor became the president and was like, ‘Y’alls teachers and business owners and doctors are scientists are NOTHING compared to me and my tractor.’
  • He was super into Native Americans and was an advocate for assimilation policies and peaceful U.S. – Indian treaty alliances.
  • Abraham Lincoln hated him
  • His face is on Mount Rushmore
  • TJ believed banks were the second coming, a sign of all things evil because of its “scheming” ways.
  • He promised to free the 175 slaves his father owned once pops died, but he only freed five – the ones related to Sally Hemings.
  • PS: Sally Hemings was his infamous mistress, who also happened to be his slave. He father some of her kids, but still unclear.

  • Speaking of which, TJ had hypocritical tendencies with his stances on slavery and equality in general. For example, in the Declaration of Independence, you know the thing that says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? He owned a total of more than 600 slaves in his lifetime, and considered women especially “profitable”, since they could bang out kids that would in turn become slaves.
  • As seen in Hamilton, Jefferson and James Madison are out to take down A.Ham – “get in the weeds, look for the seeds of Hamilton’s misdeeds.” They find out Alexander’s paying off some dude – James Reynolds aka husband to Maria Reynolds aka Alex’s mistress – and it’s all a little too ironic TJ wants to out Alex’s adultery, because, uh, Sally.

So instead, we’re going to focus on Daveed, the extremely talented man who plays both TJ and Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton. He’s way, way less problematic, unless you couldn’t being a first-class rapper and handsome motherf’ker a problem.

Quick recap on America’s faux founding father Daveed Diggs

  • Born and raised in Oakland, California
  • Half Jewish, half black (hear that AEA casting call people?)
  • His first job was at Pier 1 Imports at the age of 15. He spent most of the day unwrapping individually wrapped wooden fish. He hated it. Hasn’t stepped in that store since.

  • Majored in theatre at Brown University
  • He was a substitute teacher. Speak up kids who had to call this dude Mr. Diggs in that one Algebra class.
  • He also was on the track team, focusing on sprinting and hurdles. Bless this picture.

  • At Brown, Daveed was part of a “rappers supergroup” called Soul Cypher. Can you even imagine going to a party and seeing Daveed and co. freestyling??
  • Since he had the chops, Daveed was recruited by Hamilton director Tommy Kail to join Freestyle Love Supreme, the hip-hop improv/theater group he co-created with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

  • Daveed filled in here and there for FLS, becoming one of the regular reparatory members, along with Chris Jackson (George Washington in Hamilton) and James Monroe Iglehart (Genie in Broadway’s Aladdin). It was during a show in New Orleans for a SportsCenter show that Tommy Kail mentioned Lin was doing a play (a rap musical about Alexander Hamilton) and invited him to a reading. He’s been involved with the show ever since.

The idea when first described to me was laughable. A rap musical about Alexander Hamilton—it didn’t make me jump up and down. Once I read the script and heard the songs, I knew there was something great there. Watching Chris Jackson play George Washington for a week, I left thinking that the dollar bill looked wrong. I walked out of the show with a sense of ownership over American history. Part of it is seeing brown bodies play these people. {x}

  • He’s already won two awards for Hamilton – a Lucille Lortel Award and Theatre World Award, not to mention the Grammy he and his castmates won for Best Musical Theatre Soundtrack.
  • Daveed is also part of a trio called clipping., an experimental hip-hop group which combines Sorkin-esque paced raps with experimental sounds and beats only made from field recordings they create themselves.

  • He also spit some rhymes in this video, and although I’m not quite sure how to process this, you should probably watch it anyways.

So if you don’t know, now you know.

#Hamiltunes: How Lucky We Are To Be Alive Right Now

Because I’m your one crunchy cat aunt, I love NPR. But today I love NPR more than ever, because they posted the full, streaming Hamilton cast recording. If you want to hear it head over fairly quickly, because it probably won’t stay up for too long -but the recording will be available to buy on October 16. And let me tell you, it’s even better than I was expecting.

There’s been some discussion about whether people who haven’t seen Hamilton should listen to the soundtrack. As someone who grew up listening to cast recordings of musicals I hadn’t necessarily seen yet, it’s not an issue for me. Nor am I concerned about “spoilers” since this happened over 200 years ago and I know the basics.  Still, I guess if you’re super spoiler averse, want to hear the music on stage first, or aren’t familiar with Alexander Hamilton’s story, feel free to wait until you can see the show. I know that will probably not happen for me this year, so I never had any intention of waiting.

So what do I love about the Hamilton recording? First of all, Lin-Manuel Miranda provides all of the exposition modern audiences need to understand the story and the time it happens in – without ever talking down to us or underestimating the intelligence of a general audience. The different musical styles assigned to each character actually help further their character development and the plot. There are clever rhymes and allusions, but he is never clever for clever’s sake. Also it’s also just really, really good.

Here’s a brief track-by-track reaction, with the caveat that I jotted down thoughts as I was listening to it for the first time, so I probably mis-assigned the speaker a few times, and there are several tracks for which I didn’t get anything down. Fair warning: spoilers ahead.

Hamilton streaming online: how lucky we are to be alive right now.

1. Hamilton

I have listened to the White House performance of the early draft of this more than a few times, but this feels different.  It’s more musical theater (in a good way) with backing vocals and orchestra. I may be imagining shades of Jay Z’s Empire State Of Mind – both here and in later tracks, like The Schuyler Sisters. Leslie Odom Jr.’s (Aaron Burr) voice is amazing – speaking, rapping, and singing alike.

2. Aaron Burr, Sir

I love the old-school, fun rap wordplay – like pairing Burr, sir with bursar. Burr’s advice: “talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for” proves that there has been little change in the practice of politics since the 1770s. I love how the rap styles tell you about characters – the more youthful, energetic American guys vs French-y Frenchman Lafayette.

3. My Shot

This has been the breakout song so far. A really brilliant use of rap wordplay because the pun or double entendre with “not throwing away my shot” lies in foreshadowing. If you’re the kind of adult who reads colonial history for funsies or remembers everything from AP American – guilty! – then you’ll remember the controversy of whether Hamilton genuinely aimed at Burr at the start of the duel, or pointedly threw away his shot to signal that he was not out to kill.

4. The Story of Tonight

The formation of a new nation: this is like the pre-revolution Red And Black of Hamilton.

5. The Schuyler Sisters

This introduces the Schuylers as the Kardashians* of the 1770s (but not vapid, just that they’re rich and well-connected). This track establishes the colonial era as an exciting, modern time to live in. The harmonies between Phillippa Soo (Eliza), Jasmine Cephas-Jones (Peggy, and later Maria Reynolds) and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica) are amazing and reminiscent of old-school Destiny’s Child.

6. Farmer Refuted

This one gets real 18th century for a sec, and contains actual references to the fact that it’s a musical without busting the fourth wall: “don’t modulate the key then not debate with me.”

7. You’ll Be Back

It’s a 1960s Brit pop-style breakup song, performed by King George. Actually perfect. Jonathan Groff is magic and Lin Manuel is a genius.  “I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.”

8. Right Hand Man

Like in the opening track, this is a great use of expository rap which I am just learning is a thing. That I am obsessed with.

9. A Winter’s Ball

Just your classic rap braggadocio that includes the claim that George Washington and Martha Washington’s feral tomcat was named after Hamilton.

10. Helpless

Eliza and Hamilton meet, and it’s like the perfect blend of an 18th century story, a very 2015 musical, and 90s pop/ R&B styling.

11. Satisfied

Renee Elise Goldsberry is a fantastic rapper. I love how Lin-Manuel Miranda creates this tension between Eliza’s relationship with Alexander against his feelings for Angelica, but you never question the loyalty between the sisters. Also a testament to Soo and Goldsberry’s performances, though.

12. The Story Of Tonight (Reprise)
13. Wait For It

If the lyrics weren’t about 18th century politics, I would think it was something on the radio when I was in 6th grade (in 1997-1998, for reference).  It’s also just a lyrically lovely song that does a lot to turn Burr from a villain into a man.

14. Stay Alive

It’s not just military strategy, but catchy military strategy.

15. 10 Duel Commandments

This track is not just a lot of fun, but actually necessary information for the Burr/Hamilton duel later on – it will be important that we know about seconds, that shots often aren’t fired in a duel, making sure there are no technical witnesses, etc.

16. Meet Me Inside
17. That Would Be Enough

They’ve been largely silent, but I’ve definitely heard some (often older, stodgier) musical theater purists bemoan a rap musical – especially one set in the 1700s. You know, as though your classic Musical Theater torch songs and 11 o’clock numbers would bear any resemblance to things people were singing in the 1780s. Well, I think numbers like That Would Be Enough should silence some of those folks. Some numbers are definitely more “musical theater” and this is one of them.

18. Guns and Ships

More expository rap, as Burr, Lafayette, and Washington strategize.

19. History Has Its Eyes On You

I don’t mean at all that Miranda’s rap is old-fashioned or boring – exactly the opposite – but I have to say it’s amazing to listen to a rap track narrated featuring George Washington (Christopher Jackson) and think to myself “my dad might like this musical.” [Background: my dad, an old white man, categorically hates rap – along with most music – and is so befuddled by musicals that he left Cats in the early 90s muttering “I just don’t get it.”]

20. Yorktown (The world turned upside down )

Consider this one sort of a My Shot reprise.

21. What Comes Next

YES. More ’60s pop from Groff. When you get excited to just hear a character again  – not even see them walk on stage –  you know it’s a good score.

22. Dear Theodosia

Aaron Burr sings to his baby daughter and it’s really moving (and for us history nerdos, extra sad when he says “someday you’ll blow us all away” and you know that she actually died at sea in her 20s). Alexander sings the same to his son Philip – we’ll get to why that’s sad later. Great way to humanize these historic figures. [Fun fact: Theodosia was the first person recorded to have honeymooned at Niagara Falls.]

23. Non-Stop

Miranda excels where a lot of librettists bore me: incorporating earlier numbers. After listening to this I realized this was probably at the act break, so it makes sense that it’s a bigger number with a lot of throwbacks.

24. What’d I Miss

So brilliant: this is like an oldschool motown tune because Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs) has been gone for years since the revolution and he’s a little behind. He “basically missed the late ’80s.”

25. Cabinet Battle #1

I could see a cool history teacher using this to help explain how the US treasury was formed, as well as state vs national taxation and currency. So good.

26. Take A Break

I LOVE how in his raps, Miranda incorporates references and allusions that would have been available to these guys during their lifetimes – like Banquo and Macduff from Macbeth. The occasional baroque riffs are awesome, too.

27. My Dearest Angelica

Again, Miranda doesn’t underestimate his audience, and it pays off. This number actually discusses how punctuation changes the meaning of a sentence in a letter Eliza sent to Angelica.  Okay, we’re starting the Tony For Renee Elise Goldsberry campaign.

28. Say No To This

The orchestration is also wonderful throughout, as in the violin of romantic tension in this track. Hamilton meets Maria Reynolds, begins an affair, then gets a letter from her husband blackmailing him. Jasmine Cephas Jones really rocks her dual role of Maria Reynolds and Peggy Schuyler.

29. The Room Where It Happens

Hamilton has now adopted Burr’s advice from Act I. Yes, this is a rap musical, but to reduce it to just that ignores how great Miranda is with melody.

30. Schuyler Defeated
31. Cabinet Battle #2
32. Washington On Your Side
33. One Last Time

Christopher Jackson as Washington has such a gorgeous, smooth voice for this R&B-incluence number. American history teachers take note: this is a much better way to explain the two term custom than whatever’s in your textbook. Seamlessly incorporates Washington’s gorgeous farewell address, so well written (possibly by Hamilton, possibly not) that it fits in brilliantly with Miranda’s other lyrics.

34.I know Him

GROFF. I can’t overstate how the musical styles assigned to each character help move their characterization and the plot forward, as in this song where King George gets news that John Adams is taking over.

35. The Adams Administration
36. We Know

American political scandals have changed so little. In this song, it has broken that Hamilton gave hush money to Maria Reynolds’ husband.

37. Hurricane

Hamilton sings “I wrote my own deliverance.” Like so many politicians since, he admitted one bad act (his affair with Maria) to quiet talk of another (involvement in Reynold’s financial scheme involving back wages to Revolutionary War vets). How hasn’t there been a musical about Hamilton yet? His arc is amazing.

38. The Reynolds Pamphlet

Hamilton’s peers react to his publication.  It’s so good, and very similar to the reaction today when a politician’s rival falls: “never going to be president now/ one less thing to worry about.”

39. Burn

Eliza burns Hamilton’s letters, a clever way to explain why we don’t know how Elizabeth reacted to Alexander’s affair and the publication of Maria’s letters. Miranda turns Eliza’s silence into an act of agency: “I’m erasing myself from the narrative/ let future historians wonder how Eliza reacted when you broke her heart.” So gorgeous. Tony for Phillipa Soo as well, please.

40. Blow Us All Away

The new generation is taking over, and Hamilton’s son Phillip (Javier Munoz) is ready to “blow us all away” as predicted in Act I. There’s a duel between Philip and Burr’s man George Eaker. Yeah, dueling was really big. They went across the river to New Jersey (“everything is legal in New Jersey”) to the same dueling ground Alexander would visit years later. This number also helpfully reinforces the rules of dueling, which will be handy later.

41. Stay Alive (Reprise)

Phillip’s death. I know I’d be crying if I saw this live, because I’m crying listening to NPR (to be fair, I probably cry listening to NPR on a fairly regular basis).

42. It’s Quiet Uptown

Alexander’s grief after Phillip’s death. Great use of the ensemble. Really beautiful and melodic, further develops Angelica/Eliza/Alexander relationship. Again: Not just a rap musical.

43. The Election Of 1800

Love the electorate’s observations of Jefferson, Madison, Addams, Burr – a wonderful glimpse into the history of campaigning in the US as we head into another year and a half long election cycle, too.

44. Your Obedient Servant

Hamilton and Burr arrange their duel. I love their relationship as cordial enemies .. not all the way to frenemies. Political rivalries were so classy back then. The duel is on.

45. Best Of Wives And Best Of Women

This was more of an interlude. Adios, Eliza.

46. The World Was Wide Enough

Miranda brings back the rules of dueling in case you had forgotten some of them (I had). He also provides evidence for whether or not Hamilton intended to shoot Burr to kill (wearing glasses, for instance) or whether he was throwing away his shot. The action pauses as we enter Hamilton’s thoughts as his last moments play out. Miranda still leaves enough ambiguity – just like the historical record – that the audience can decide for themselves what happened. You also get some tones of regret from Burr.

47. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

Eliza is the one who recorded Hamilton’s legacy, interviewed his contemporaries, and controlled how Hamilton was represented in history — as she says, she put herself back in the narrative.  I’m crying again, it’s okay.