‘Hamilton': Celebs Voice Mixed Reactions, From ‘Magical’ to ‘Dangerously’ Omits ‘Realities of Slavery’

“I have a lot of thoughts about Hamilton and the way it idealizes the founders,” writer Roxane Gay says

Last Updated: July 4, 2020 @ 1:19 PM

The filmed version of Broadway’s smash hit “Hamilton” is drawing both praise and criticism, with some showering it with compliments of artistic “genius” and others noting the liberties taken with the total truth of the time.

The July 3 debut on Disney+ of the musical, written, composed by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, is set in the late 1700s and tells the story of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton, at a time when the new nation was wrought with slavery, social inequity and civil unrest.

Celebrities from across industries weighed in with their thoughts on Friday and Saturday, from “Frozen” actor Josh Gad calling the show “magical” and “pure genius,” to author Rozanne Gay saying it “dangerously elides they [sic] realities of slavery.”

“The first time I ever saw @DaveedDiggs on stage in #Hamilton I turned to my friend and said ‘this is one of the single most inspired performances I have ever witnessed in my life,'” Gad wrote. “Daveed exudes electricity when he opens his mouth. It’s remarkable. Pure genius. Magical.”

But New York Times best-selling author and social commentator Roxane Gay made a point to both honor the actors’ performances and point out some issues she has with the way the show “idealizes” America’s founding fathers.

“I have a lot of thoughts about Hamilton and the way it idealizes the founders, and how such a brilliant musical dangerously elides they [sic] realities of slavery,” Gay wrote in a thread. “But Leslie Odom Jr. put his FOOT in that performance. So talented.”

“I think it’s a brilliant show. As I said. It’s not some vulnerable upstart. The show can handle critical engagement and the performances and book and music will still be absolutely incredible,” she continued. “Also Helpless/Satisfied are such a perfect pair of songs. Ugh. But then the Sally Hemings moment played for laughs. Whyyyyyy.”

Crissle West, a writer and comedian known for co-hosting the podcast “The Read” and for starring in the Harriet Tubman and Marsha P. Johnson episodes of “Drunk History,” also had mixed feelings about the show.

“I knew hamilton was gonna be ahistorical as soon as I saw black people onstage and not playing slaves. i still enjoy the show,” she wrote.

Miranda himself also did a lot of tweeting about the show Friday, taking a moment to thank the show’s fans.

“Thank you for tonight. I’m so grateful you just have the whole thing now. With this extraordinary company and crew. It’s yours,” he wrote.

Star Leslie Odom Jr. also shared warm feelings about “Hamilton.”

“No two Hamilton shows were the same. This performance was special because in some small + indescribable way, they all were,” he wrote. “Like jazz. You walk out onstage and surrender to the ride.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, thanked Lin-Manuel Miranda for “lifting” her from her “anger and disillusionment.”

“I needed this tonight. Transported again. And healed,” Ifill wrote. “Thank you @Lin_Manuel and this extraordinary cast for returning to the joy of this extraordinary work. Lifting me from my anger & disillusionment – reminding me that our creativity & vision is the secret to our liberation.”

Read these and more reactions below:

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