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How Lucky We Are To Be Alive Right Now, Hamilton Lyrics Decoded!

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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You’ve been listening to the Hamilton cast recording for weeks? Me too! At first, I was listening just to get a general gist of the musical. I wasn’t REALLY following plot points as much as I was just enjoying songs. However, after listening to it over and over again, I got the story. Somewhat. There were still a few things that tripped me up, that took me seeing the musical for it to make sense. So in honor of sometimes getting confused, Broadway Black is here to help you out. I’m sure there are more, but here are the top 10 Hamilton lyrics that made me say oh, ah, and huh?

1. Hamilton in Cabinet Battle #1

“A civics lesson from a slaver. Hey neighbor, your debts are paid cuz you don’t pay for labor.”

Meaning: We all know slaves were the backbone of this entire country. Hamilton wasn’t afraid to remind Jefferson of that. It’s the thing we probably would have said to Jefferson if we could.

2. Angelica in “Satisfied”

“So this is what it feels like to match wits with someone at your level. What the hell is the catch?”

Meaning: Pretty self explanatory. Everyone wants their equal. However, what makes this line so cool is Angelica is the only sister that gets to rap in the play, and quite fast. Angelica is truly the only one that can keep up with him in a way. I see you, Lin.

3. Lafayette in “Guns & Ships”

“I’m taking this horse by the reins making Redcoats redder with bloodstains.”

Meaning: This entire song is rapped so fast, I miss most of it. However, this line particularly about the Redcoats getting redder with blood stains is awesome, violent, and bold.

4. Angelica in “Schuyler Sisters”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

Meaning: This is a line in the Declaration of Independence. But when they said “all men,” they mean land-owning white men. To have a Black woman recite these lines that weren’t mean for us, followed with the lines “When I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’mma compel him to include women in the sequel.” The greatest.

5. Thomas Jefferson in “Washington On Your Side” 

“If Washington isn’t gonna listen to disciplined dissidents, this is the difference; this kid is out.”

Meaning: Did Jefferson just quit? I think so. Also, the alliteration of these lyrics is amazing.

6. Hamilton in “Cabinet Battle #2”

“A game of chess, where France is Queen and Kingless.”

Meaning: Burn! Chess is alluded to a lot in this musical. Queen and King are the most important pieces in a game. Hamilton is relating the current state of France to chess to show they really aren’t worth the fight.

7. King George III in “You’ll Be Back”

“You’ll be back soon; you’ll see. You remember you belong to me.”

Meaning: He’s talking about the U.S of A, you know? Britain thought they owned us for a period of time, and they did. But soon we broke “free.” This entire song is like a cheesy break-up song, saying we’ll be begging to come back, but look at us now!

8. Thomas Jefferson in “What Did I Miss?”

“I’ve been in Paris meeting lots of different ladies…”

Meaning: One of the ladies? Angelica Schuyler. BOOM! Remember when she said she would compel him to include women in the sequel?

9. Aaron Burr in “We Know”

“Alexander, rumors only grow. And we both know what we know.

Meaning: People will find out about the affair eventually. Plus, Hamilton knows all about Burr’s affairs too so it’s fair game.

10. Hamilton/Angelica in “Take A Break”

“My dearest, Angelica.”

Meaning: THE COMMA. It changes the meaning. Grammar is a funny thing. “My dearest, Angelica” vs “My dearest Angelica,” changes everything. The former saying that Angelica IS his dearest, where the latter is letter formality, it could be written to anyone. It was also Lin-Manuel’s way to add to the already underlying romantic tension between the two.  He calls it Commasexting. LOL.

Find more meanings & history of Hamilton lyrics on Genius.com!

 

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Huh??

It’s All Over: 2017 Claims a Former Broadway Dreamgirl

Broadway Black

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We’re only two weeks into the new year, and 2017 has taken another victim. Only five days after ending her long-awaited Broadway comeback in the revival of The Color Purple, “Ally McBeal” guest star Jennifer Holliday confirmed that she’d perform at Herr Woolly Bear Caterpillar’s Presidential Inauguration on Jan 19th in Washington, D.C. There was some slight confusion earlier today about whether or not the alleged performer had actually accepted. But according to the New York Times, Jennifer Holliday is performing at the Inauguration.

Jennifer Holliday is performing at the Inauguration.

Jennifer Holliday is performing at the Inauguration.

Jennifer Holliday is performing at the Inauguration.

And this is why we can’t ever have nice things. Now we know why Deena & the Dreams threw her out faster than Farrah got her luggage. We’re just as perplexed as her former co-star, Sheryl Lee Ralph, currently employed in the smash Broadway hit, Wicked.


                          Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 6.02.59 PM

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 6.03.30 PM

“I’m singing on the mall for the people,” Ms. Holliday claimed in defense of her decision, “I don’t have a dog in this fight — I’m just a singer, and it’s a welcome concert for the people on the mall.”

But Ms. Holliday DOES have a dog in this fight. She lives with Multiple Sclerosis and will most assuredly be affected if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, as is planned by the Trump Administration.

Listen, we get it. Times are hard, and those Color Purple paychecks won’t last forever. But what Ms. Holiday doesn’t seem to understand is that by taking this role, she turns her back on her Black brothers and sisters who’ve shared her plight of struggling in this industry, in this country. She turns her back on those LGBT youth who grew up listening to the Dreamgirls cast recording, which gave them empowerment. She turns her back on every woman who’s had her voice taken away by a narcissistic, controlling chauvinist who feels threatened by her strength.

She should relate to the latter, as it earned her a Tony Award in 1982. We can take those back, right?

“If that’s what America has come to,” she continued, “where we all hate and bully people, there’s no more freedom of speech.” But this is exactly what lead us to Emperor Cheetoh in the first place. Hate, bullying, and the abuse of freedom of speech and the exemption of consequence.

As of now, Benedict Effie, Toby Keith, and 3 Doors Down have joined the roster that already includes that one runner-up from “America’s Got Talent,” The Rockettes, a Bruce Springsteen coverband (really?), and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Below you’ll find how it all went down from the initial announcement to the retracted confirmation to the final offical confirmation of her performance. It’s been a whirlwind kind of day.

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Concert Night

Bay Street Cancels Prince of Egypt Concert Following Diversity Concerns

Broadway Black

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ICYM this week’s episode of “White People Need to Stop,” the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor raised eyebrows when they announced their casting for its staged reading of Dreamworks Theatrical’s The Prince of Egypt, based on the animated musical film.

The cast would feature Casey Cott (CW’s “Riverdale”) as ‘Moses,’ Stark Sands (Kinky Boots, American Idiot) as ‘Ramses,’ Solea Pfeiffer (Hollywood Bowl’s West Side Story) as ‘Tzipporah,’ Marin Mazzie (The King and I, Ragtime) as ‘Queen Tuya,’ Shuler Hensley (Young Frankenstein) as ‘Pharaoh Seti,’ J.C. Montgomery (Shuffle Along, The Scottsboro Boys) as ‘Jethro,’ John Cariani (Something Rotten) as ‘Aaron,’ with Ryan Knowles as ‘High Priest Hotep,’ Julia Motyka as ‘Miriam,’ Joanna Howard as ‘Nefertari,’ Desi Oakley as ‘Yocheved,’ and Dakota Quackenbush as ‘Young Miriam.’ Ensemble members included Alysha Deslorieux, Brian Flores, and Destan Owens.

Which once again begs the question: were there no more Black or Middle-Eastern actors available? Even for a one-night only concert reading? Clearly, Stewart/Whitley has been taking Hollywood’s ‘Whitewashing the Middle East 101’ course; isn’t that right, “Exodus?” “Gods of Egypt?” “Noah?” “Prince of Persia?” “The Passion of the Christ?” Or perhaps they’re just following the source material:

 

Prince of Egypt

 

Naturally, most sane people on social media weren’t having it, and responded accordingly:

It saddens me that after such a wonderful multicultural season on Broadway a piece set in AFRICA has not one POC. #PrinceOfEgypt 😔

— Cynthia Erivo (@CynthiaEriVo) July 23, 2016

#princeofegypt yet ANOTHER missed opportunity to represent our colorful world #representationmattershttps://t.co/OVnA9SCR7i

— Denée Benton (@DeneeBenton) July 24, 2016

After a year of Hamilton, Shuffle Along, Eclipsed, Waitress, Spring Awakening, The Color Purple, Allegiance — a season so rich in diversity, it’s disheartening that we’re back at it again with the whitewash. Hell, another theater in Chicago landed themselves in hot water after casting a white actor in the Dominican role of Usnavi in their production of In the Heights.

Earlier this week, director Scott Schwartz (son of composer Stephen Schwartz) released a statement on Bay Street’s website:

I know a conversation has been happening about the casting of the upcoming concert of the new stage adaptation of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT. It is a conversation that is both timely and of great importance. I want to take a moment to join this dialogue, and to respond to the issues that have been raised.

Let me first say that I hear you, and I take the concerns raised about racial authenticity and diversity in casting very seriously. I always have, and am known for directing and producing shows with highly diverse casts. The other creators of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, from composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and book writer Philip LaZebnik to the producers and team at DreamWorks Theatricals, all have a long history of diversity in casting. We all care deeply about making theater and art that is reflective of the multicultural society in which we live. Bay Street Theater as well is committed to hiring artists of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The upcoming presentation of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT is a one night, free concert reading. It will have an extremely limited rehearsal period and it is NOT a full production. There will be no costuming, makeup, or design of any sort, and the music will be performed on just one piano. This show is early in its development, and the focus of the team has been on the script and score, working to make this new musical the best it can be in its writing. We have done a couple of non-public readings of the show, and the cast has been different at each. I am proud to say that we have had diverse casts in all of our developmental steps so far.

Some have written that the cast for this upcoming concert is “all white,” but that is simply not the case. In fact, we have an Equity cast of fifteen actors and five of them are people of color. So while some may not agree with specific choices we may have made for specific roles, I want to assure everyone that having a diverse cast was and is a priority for us.

All of that being said, please rest assured that your concern about the need for diversity and authenticity in this project is something we hear and take seriously. All of us on the creative and producing team hope to continue this conversation, not just about THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, but about diversity and authenticity in casting in all the art we create.

Sincerely,
Scott Schwartz

Wow.

But if having a diverse cast is such a “priority,” then why are only four of the 15 cast members Black, with two of them as part of the ensemble? Add in Flores, who’s Latino, and only 1/3 of the cast includes performers of color. In a story that takes place in Egypt.

That’s not diversity, it’s lazy, whether or not it’s a workshop, or a concert, or a full-fledged stage production.

And I still haven’t forgiven him for Hunchback.

In the age of Hamilton, #BlackLivesMatter, and presidential nominee Donald Trump, race and representation in the media for nonwhite actors is obviously still a major, complex subject.

After a long, dark history of white actors taking and playing cultures and characters that aren’t their own, excluding nonwhite actors from roles they should be playing, and being cast in a role where the character’s race is unspecified 99% of the time, it feels like another slap in the face for performers of color still struggling to find work.

God forbid award-winning actress Norma Dumezweni gets cast as Hermione Granger. God forbid Hamilton casting directors only seek actors of color to portray the roles created for them. And rarely, especially for a show featuring non-Black people of color, is there any authenticity in casting. Just look at Aladdin. It all reeks of hypocrisy.

The entire debacle didn’t go unscathed, however, as Bay Street decided to cancel the August 13th performance all-together, issuing a non-apology on Facebook.

As if this couldn’t get any more bizarre, Schwartz penned another lengthy novel on Bay Street’s Facebook page, detailing how and why they made the decision to cancel the performance. He essentially boiled it down to online harassment of the performers.

Online bullying, especially toward actors much more accessible through social media, is unacceptable, and I commend Schwartz and Bay Street for wanting to protect them. But for him to once again deflect responsibility instead of apologizing for the casting in the first place and acknowledge why people had a problem with it, it seems to contradict any earlier statements he made regarding diversity and reveals his disinterest in racial authenticity.

Finally, the creative team and producers at DreamWorks Theatricals all believe that the story of Moses is one that is embraced and owned by millions and millions of people from every country, race and culture – and we hope that the project we are developing will honor the passion of those who love it. It has always been our aim to create the piece in a way that people of all races and cultures can one day tell the story.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that only white people have been given the opportunity to tell this, or any Biblical story, taking place in the Middle East, which is what people have a problem with. The mainstream can still relate to this or any story with a predominately Middle-Eastern or Black cast.

So, miss me with the excuses. Admit you screwed up, actually listen to what people are saying, take what you learned and apply it into the show’s development.

In the same letter, he announced that Bay Street will now offer a free concert of its production of My Fair Lady, August 13th.

 

 

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Twitter: @BroadwayBlack

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