#Ham4All and #All4Ham

Calling all HamFans looking to waste their time on videos of celebs singing Broadway tunes!

This week, our beloved cinnamon roll Lin-Manuel Miranda announced the #Ham4All fundraiser for the Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition, which is made up of 12 partner organizations that work throughout the U.S. to provide services to immigrants, refugees, and asylees. For just $10, you can enter to win a trip to LA as the special guest of Lin’s for the Hamilton premiere in Hollywood! As an added bonus to get the word out, you can post a video of yourself singing a cover of any Hamiltune and then challenge your friends to do the same. Think the ice bucket challenge sans the ice bucket (for the most part).

And just like the ice bucket challenge for ALS, celebrities are getting the word out about the contest on social media to their millions of followers around the world. The viral challenge proved to be a monumental success for the ALS Association after over $115 million was raised through the initiative, so hopefully #Ham4All will find the same traction. In the meantime, let’s enjoy these Ham covers celebs (and Hamfans alike) have graced us in the past week. These are just a few of my faves – what about you??

Lin & Jonathan Groff

THE ROMANCE CONTINUES! Any Hamiltrash member can tell you about the long-standing ship between these men, one that dates way back before they were A.Ham and King George. We’ve been blessed with this Vine/GIF that sent shippers sailing, so any time Lin and Groffsauce are together, the fandom is anticipating the sexual tension to return. And an unexpected return it was. How many times is too many to watch this video? Asking for myself. #ReneeReneeReneeReneeRenee

Taran Killam

Broadway’s King George IV (?) only left the show about a month ago, but apparently hearing Wait For It 8 times a week wasn’t enough to learn all the lyrics.

Ben Schwartz

Because one Lin musical isn’t enough.

Megan Amram

Your favorite Tweeter/Parks & Rec and The Good Place writer shows off her singing skills in the bathroom. Trust there’s a reason for it. Bonus: bloop of her computer falling off the toilet.

Cleve September

London’s Laurens/Philip proves he’s fit for the job with some John Mayer-esque skills.

J. Quinton Johnson

And now for Broadway’s current Mulligan/Madison… serving character in each Brady Bunch box.

James M. Igleheart, Nick Walker, Jevon McFerrin

A swing, Lafyette/Jef and an ensemble member gather for #Ham4All. The current cast is like Boyz II Men.

Kelly McCreary

The Grey’s Anatomy star recruited v special guest for her #Ham4All challenge too. We need to get friends who are in Hamilton.

Phillipa Soo

The OBC got into the spirit too! Pippa (who was challenged by her fiance Steven Pasquale) returns to her roots – by channelling her former hubby.

Oak Onaodowan

My first boo. My always boo. The incredible OG spy on the inside, Oak.

Utkarsh Ambudkar

Raise your hand if you ever think about Chris Jackson singing One Last Time in front of Barack and Michelle in the White House and cry.

Josh Groban

Per request of Lin-Man himself, Josh and his sweet silky voice took a break from Russia and tapped into a scorned wife of a founding father.

Evan Rachel Wood

Had no idea she could belt like this!

Cynthia Erivo

I just need Cynthia to sing me to sleep every night. Although it might be difficult because I cry every time I hear her sing (which wouldn’t be too far off from my nightly routine).

Tatiana Maslany

I just feel like we would be best friends with Tat, is the thing.

PS22 Chorus

And so it continues, the paradox that is the PS22 Chorus and how every year the new batch of kids is amazing and makes me cry.

Kristen Bell

I guess the rule is: If you sing Dear Theodosia, I WILL cry.

America Ferrera

Petition to have America play the first A.Ham. Thanks in advance.

Jaime Camil

#Brogelios4Ham

Ed Helms

Rit-dit-doo-doo-doo, Ed Helms and his banjo strike again!

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

You know, I really felt like Alexander Hamilton was giving a monologue right in front of me.

Ingrid Michaelson

Ingrid/new Broadway star is the master of these a cappella videos (have you SEEN her OG one from last year?!), so it’s no surprise she killed this too.

Mae Whitman (ft. Lauren Graham)

I. Am. Shooketh. Playing this on loop. I AM STARTING #MAE4HAM RIGHT NOW. ALSO #LAUREN4HAM. OR JUST LIKE, STAR IN A MUSICAL TOGETHER, WHATEVER, MAN.

Bonus Vids: Orange is the New Black & Jane the Virgin star Diane Guerrero, her other Jane co-star Yael GroblasOBC Hamilcast member Carleigh Bettiol,  Paul of Paul & Storm giving the most anticipated entrance, This nugget singing Dear Theodosia, basically every Dear Theodosia cover will kill me, Cast of One Day at a Time (including Rita Moreno!), Ben Stiller and his fab daughter, #HamInASL, Adorable Ian Chen from Fresh Off The Boat is ready to be KGIII in 10 years!
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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?

Hamilton Explained: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

It’s Hamilweek, and Hamilweek means another Hamilton Explained… but not just any Hamilton Explained. This time around, we’re taking a look at the show’s closing number. It’s our last chance to cry during our Hamilton listening sessions, and we take it every time. (Just kidding. We both carefully select which Act II numbers we’re capable of listening to based on our emotional fortitude at the given moment.) Grab some tissues and Visine, we’re taking it to the finale!

 

[WASHINGTON]

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known

When I was young and dreamed of glory

  • Taking it back to History Has its Eyes On You:

You have no control:

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

  • Continuing the reference to History Has Its Eyes On You. Then it was foreshadowing, now it’s a callback. By this point the dead include Alexander, Phillip, Laurens, and others not specifically mentioned in the show (RIP and Peggy). The living: on one hand, Burr (who continued to refer to Hamilton in frenemy-type terms for the rest of his life) and on the other, Eliza.
  • Then, there’s the casting of Hamilton, which Lin-Manuel Miranda has explained in a number of interviews: the concept is that it is a story about America then, told by America now. Hamilton and the other founding fathers had choices in setting up the American political and monetary systems, but what happened next (what became of America next, who became America next) was out of their hands. Even living the best life, full of the most worthy deeds, is not a guarantee that you will be talked about in centuries’ time – and you have no control over who does the talking, either.

 

[BURR]

President Jefferson:

[JEFFERSON]

I’ll give him this: his financial system is a

Work of genius. I couldn’t undo it if I tried

And I tried

  • This, you already know from the rest of the play. Just call it one of the first great federalist vs states’ rights debates: should there be a national bank (Hamilton) or should money be left to the states’ control (Jefferson)? Will America be built on urban commerce (Hamilton) or an agrarian foundation (Jefferson – and yes, we know who’s really doing the planting)? Since you use the same $$ in all 50 states, you know what happened when Jefferson tried to oppose Hamilton’s financial system. Not to mention, Jefferson hoped for a French/parliamentary system of government, and feared that Hamilton wanted a more English government (constitutional monarchy).

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

[BURR]

President Madison:

[MADISON]

He took our country from bankruptcy to prosperity

I hate to admit it, but he doesn’t get enough credit

For all the credit he gave us

 

  • The US fell into a financial slump after the Revolutionary War (contrast with our postwar economic booms in the 20th century: WWI followed by the prosperous 1920s; the economic success of the 1950s, the ostentatious 1980s (only a good time for the wealthy, granted) following Vietnam. Hamilton’s response was to consolidate state debts and subsume them into the national bank, preventing future catastrophes after war drained the nation’s coffers. He dealt “a new line of credit” via the National Bank – the credit he gave us. Today we see this in large scale – maybe larger than Hamilton would have liked? – in the Federal Reserve.

 

[WASHINGTON AND COMPANY]

Who lives

Who dies

Who tells your story?

[ANGELICA]

Every other founding father story gets told

Every other founding father gets to grow old

 

  • Before this musical and Chernow’s bio, your average American knew about the Aaron Burr duel, the $10 bill, and probably some slivers of recollection about the National Bank and Constitutional Convention from high school history class. The other founding fathers are celebrated in everything from monuments to children’s school pageants: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Jay and James Madison. I didn’t even have to look them up – the only one non-legal-types sometimes forget is John Jay, who may be due for his own hit musical (Jay was our first Chief Justice and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris, BTW).
  • The other Founding Fathers also lived a really long time – most of them were in their 80s when they died, except Hamilton and Washington (who still lived longer than Hamilton, at 67). Maybe it bears mention that most of those low average lifespans for past centuries were skewed by high infant – and to an extent, child – mortality. If you made it to your kid years, there was a good chance you were going to live a full life, not die at 35 or whatever. Hamilton’s death looked tragically young in the 19th century, too.
  • I remember reading – forgive me, I don’t remember where – that in the early 19th century the popular portraits of the founding fathers were of them in later life instead of during their younger years because America was such a young country that having older leaders gave an air of stability, permanency, and history to the fledgling nation.

 

[BURR]

But when you’re gone, who remembers your name?

Who keeps your flame?

  • In Burn, Eliza takes fire to Hamilton’s letters – incinerates them; destroys them. In Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story, Eliza keeps the fire of Alexander’s legacy alive – fans the flames, but this time it means something different.

 

[BURR AND MEN]

Who tells your story?
Who tells your story?

[ANGELICA AND WOMEN]

Who tells your story?

Your story?

[WOMEN]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I put myself back in the narrative

 

  • Full circle: let me be part of the narrative (That Would Be Enough); I’m myself from the narrative (Burn); I put myself back in the narrative.
  • In an interview (one of Phillipa Soo or LMM’s Theater People episodes maybe?? Correct me if you know), they discussed that the “narrative” theme didn’t emerge until they were writing one of the later songs – I want to say this one, but possibly Burn – then LMM retroactively worked it into That Would Be Enough.

 

[WOMEN]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I stop wasting time on tears

I live another fifty years

It’s not enough

  • Eliza died in 1854, long enough to see interstate railroads, the admission of over 30 states, the California Gold Rush, and the growth of the abolitionist movement. She was 97, and much celebrated as the “last living link to the Revolutionary era” 

[COMPANY]

Eliza

[ELIZA]

I interview every soldier who fought by your side

  • Eliza was dedicated to preserving Alexander’s legacy by creating an honest biography of him – he was still a somewhat maligned character in those days. Her son John Church Hamilton edited her papers, publishing them after her death in 1861.

[MULLIGAN/LAFAYETTE/LAURENS]

She tells our story

[ELIZA]

I try to make sense of your thousands of pages of writings

You really do write like you’re running out of

  • Also true – thousands of Hamilton’s papers survive to this day, and Eliza considered it her life’s work to document and organize them.

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[ELIZA]

I rely on—

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

Angelica

  • Angelica lived abroad for much of the years that Hamilton took place (you can read her letters too). By the time Alexander dies, she is living much closer to Eliza – though still a trip in 19th century terms – in the Southern Tier of New York (in a town, Angelica, that is still named after her.  I used to go through it on the way to see my grandparents as a kid. You can still see her house.)

[ELIZA]

While she’s alive—

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

We tell your story

[ELIZA]

She is buried in Trinity Church

[ELIZA AND ANGELICA]

Near you

Here. 

 

[ELIZA]

When I needed her most, she was right on—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

  • As I said above, from 1797 on, Angelica was in the United States.

[ELIZA]

And I’m still not through

I ask myself, “What would you do if you had more—”

 

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

  • Time is a theme throughout the play – wanting more of it, wanting to make the most of it, not knowing how much of it you have, not being able to speed it up or slow it down. Write like you’re running out of time, don’t throw away your shot, non-stop (unless you’re the other type, and you’re willing to wait for it).
  • 1804 or 2016, this is what you spend every day trying to answer when you love somebody and they die too soon. 

[ELIZA]

The Lord, in his kindness

He gives me what you always wanted

He gives me more—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

 

[ELIZA]

I raise funds in D.C. for the Washington Monument

  • Just as Hamilton didn’t live to see the full effects of his financial plan, Eliza didn’t live to see the monument, which opened in 1888 (I refer to The World Was Wide Enough: What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see)

[WASHINGTON]

She tells my story

 

[ELIZA]

I speak out against slavery

  • Here, Washington takes a step back, ashamed: he was maybe our greatest founder, but he may have had it in his power to undo the greatest systemic evil of our country, and he did not.
  • Incidentally, this number was the last one to be staged, it became apparent that the most logical staging was to have the cast stand and surround Eliza.

You could have done so much more if you only had—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

 

[ELIZA]

And when my time is up, have I done enough?

[ELIZA]

Will they tell our story?

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?

[ELIZA]

Oh. Can I show you what I’m proudest of?

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

  • In case you’re wondering, this is the point in the soundtrack where over 70% of listeners begin crying (fake statistic; feels likely).

[ELIZA]

I established the first private orphanage in New York City

  • “On March 15th, 1806, Elizabeth and a small group of women had gathered to form the Orphan Asylum Society to care for children who were orphaned from epidemics of cholera and yellow fever. Their mission was clear, “To help the afflicted and the needy others have forgotten; to provide them with the education and training they need to become productive, contributing members of society: to help them realize their capacity for happiness and success which belongs to all human beings.…” On May 1, 1806 they opened the doors of the Society’s first home, a rented two-story frame house on Raisin Street. Twelve orphans were admitted in the first six months and by the end of the year, 200 orphaned children had been admitted.”(http://39hwwr39mt3mqsp5fnf1q714zb.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Read-More…Elizabeth-Schuyler.pdf)
  • Children may be our most vulnerable population, but they also carried the fewest legal protections in the 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century – childhood as a concept didn’t really exist, and children were barely better than property. There were not consistent systems in place to care for and house orphaned and abandoned children, and those that existed were poorly regulated. The children’s rights movement didn’t take off in earnest until a few decades after Eliza’s death, when a woman named Etta Wheeler appealed to the ASPCA for help securing protection for a beaten foster child — there was a society to protect animals, but not children. All this to say that an orphanage aiming to educate children and release them into adult society – rather than just house them and work them – was relatively revolutionary and Eliza and her friends were ahead of their time.
  • I know this is a tangent, but it matters: you can read more about Etta Wheeler, and little Mary Ellen McCormack here. The fight for children’s rights and protection is an important chapter in American social history and jurisprudence, but it just isn’t taught.
  • By the way, Eliza did this less than two years after her husband’s death while raising 8 children alone.

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

[ELIZA]

I help to raise hundreds of children

I get to see them growing up

[COMPANY]

The orphanage

 

[ELIZA]

In their eyes I see you, Alexander

I see you every—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[ELIZA]

And when my time is up

Have I done enough?

Will they tell my story?

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?

[ELIZA]

Oh, I can’t wait to see you again

It’s only a matter of—

[ELIZA AND COMPANY]

Time

[COMPANY]

Will they tell your story?
Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?
Will they tell your story?
Who lives, who dies—

[COMPANY]

Time…

Time…
Time…

[FULL COMPANY]

Who tells your story?

See also: 

Hamilton Explained: The Schuyler Sisters

Hamilton Explained: Ten Duel Commandments

Hamilton Explained: Cabinet Battle #1 (As Kanye Rant Tweets)

Hamilton Explained: Appointing A Supreme Court Justice (using Hamilton lyrics to explain the process of nominating and confirming a new SCJ)

Hamilton Explained: Guns and Ships 

 

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. !

More Than #StarringJohnCho

You’ve seen #OscarsSoWhite. Last week it was #TonysSoDiverse. This week it’s #StarringJohnCho. Diversity in entertainment has been an even bigger topic than ever over the past couple of years, mainly because people are starting to speak up about how there isn’t any.

Recently, there was a lot of hullabaloo about whitewashing in two upcoming movies, with Tilda Swinton playing The Ancient One in Doctor Strange and Scarlett Johansson as the Major in Ghost in the Shell, both characters that were Asian in the original comic books. And you may remember that horrible film Aloha, in which she played Chinese-Hawaiian soldier Allison Ng. If you weren’t aware – all these ladies are white.

In response, a social media project called #StarringJohnCho was started, in an attempt to prove that Asian-Americans can be lead actors in movies too. The movement places John, arguably one of the biggest Asian actors who could actually carry a film (see: all the Star Treks), Photoshopped into other blockbuster movie posters.

You might be thinking, ok, that’s great and all, but John Cho’s not a “movie star”. Well, a recent study from USC shows that only 1% of lead roles in Hollywood films go to Asians, while 1 out of 20 speaking roles go to Asians. Statistics for John to even get a chance to be a bonafide movie star are slim.

One of my favorite quotes regarding diversity in entertainment comes from Viola Davis’ Emmys speech last year, when she straight up spit the truth in front of all of Hollywood.

“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.” That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. Hollywood execs are refusing to even consider POC, because the only color they really see is green. “We can’t cast Harry Shum Jr. in the lead role because he doesn’t have a successful box office track record.” Studio execs need only look at the numbers yet again – for example, the Fast and Furious movies (while albeit a bit tedious), feature a diverse cast AND crew, and its seven movies have grossed nearly $4 billion globally. Moreover, a UCLA study even noted that films with diverse leads not only result in higher box office numbers but also higher returns of investment for studios and producers.

Not to mention the mere impact casting POC would have culturally – I talked about it when I wrote about Fresh Off The Boat, but growing up, it was slim pickings when it came to idolizing Asian-American actresses. White ladies? Sure, I can name you minimum 240. Not so much with the Asians.

ALL THIS TO SAY is that Asian actors just need to be given the chance to be in the lead. It’s not just #StarringJohnCho, it’s #StarringINSERTANYOTHERASIANACTORHERE. So in the spirit of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (yes, that’s a real thing every May), here are just a few picks for younger actors and actresses who deserve to be in the lead just as much as any white person.

Constance Wu

If you’re not watching Fresh Off The Boat, what is wrong with you? Like, legit what kind of ailment is prohibiting you from watching one of the best, well-written, funniest, culturally important programs on the air right now? Here is just one reason why you should watch it – the matriarch of the family, Jessica Huang played by Constance Wu. Constance plays Jessica as a bit of a tiger mom, but one who also truly cares for her kids and can sit and play Mario Kart with them. This clip is just a fraction of Constance’s brilliance on the show.

Conrad Ricamora

Conrad be representing for my fellow Filipinos! He’s best known for his work in theater, including Imelda Marcos musical Here Lies Love and is currently on Broadway in the revival of The King and I. However, you might know him best as a member of Shondaland in How to Get Away With Murder. He’s only half of the best couple on the show, #Coliver. Honestly, they’re the best. Anyways, Conrad is super talented (as seen above) and has leading man good looks, so what more can you ask for?

Kimiko Glenn

You probs know Kimiko as Brooke Soso from Orange Is The New Black or her current stint on Broadway’s Waitress. However, I know her from being a creep. Fact: I saw the first national tour of Spring Awakening years ago in Boston and saw it thrice during its entire run in the city (I’ve mentioned this before but it doesn’t make it any less true). I became slightly obsessed with the show and music, of course, but also weirdly followed the touring cast on social media? It’s fine. Anyways, Kimiko was part of that cast, and during their stops across the country, the cast would hold benefit concerts, usually covering popular songs. Here’s one of those concerts and one in which Kimiko covers Jason Mraz. I’ve listened to this too many times to mention over the past few years.

Phillipa Soo

If you’re a member of Hamiltrash, I don’t even have to explain why Phillipa needs to continue being a leading lady. If you haven’t seen this precious cinnamon roll sing Copland in this Ham4Ham, drop everything you’re doing and watch it now.

Utkarsh Ambudkar

Yes, this is the dude from Pitch Perfect. However, he’s also Mindy’s brother Rishi on The Mindy Project, a role I think he’s perfectly cast in. Every time he comes on screen, I can’t wait to see what ridiculous thing he’ll say and it’s Utk’s delivery is always spot on. Also as a bonus, he’s BFFZ with Lin-Manuel Miranda since they used to do Freestyle Love Surpreme (improv rap group) together. *sigh*

Ki Hong Lee

Dong!!! Ki is probs one of the millennial-era actors who’s the closest to leading man role, having not only starred in Kimmy Schmidt but also in all The Maze Runner films. And if you’re wondering, his real accent is American.

Albert Tsai

Next to Happy Endings, Trophy Wife will always go down as one of the most tragic cancellations in TV history. We were big fans of it here, and one of the main reasons was the nugget, Bert, played by Albert Tsai. He’s a natural comedian and has potential for greatness in the future. He’s already got a role on Ken Jeong’s Dr. Ken, so hopefully there’s nowhere to go but up.

Keiko Agena

Ah Lane Kim. If you’re only familiar with her work on Gilmore Girls, check out her other work in shows like Scandal and Shameless. Keiko also has a podcast called Drunk Monk, in which she and her co-host Will discuss episodes of Monk – you guessed it – while drunk. Also, she does a lot of improv in LA at Upright Citizens Brigade and is really good at it. I’m not just saying that. My friend and I accidentally saw her do improv at UCB on a total whim. And she was fantastic.

#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.