16 thoughts on “Hamilton – A Brief Digression to Broadway

  1. So happy you guys did this. I (saw it twice, the second time was just very very good luck) noted the boots to shoes thing when I saw it and was impressed. I also like how they change the silhouettes to show the passage of time but keep the colors consistent (helps if you’re in the nosebleed section to ID whose who).

    I also really like the way the choreo shows off the women’s skirts, particularly during the Shuyler Sisters bit.

    All in all, I think the best way to explain what I liked about the Hamilton costumes is that the designer was obviously aware of what clothing in the period looked like, and things are a combination of a) accurate b) functional for a stage show (like the way the female chorus members have corset like tops so they can wear skirts or pants) or c) modernly anachronistic (like Hercules’ hat) instead of being a weird mismatch of periods.

    1. Glad to hear from someone who saw the show! Reading up on the designer, he clearly knows his history & has a classical theater design background (Shakespeare & historical costume) even tho’ he’s best known for Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk, before Hamilton.

      1. And I’m glad there are high res pictures of the costumes (although less from the second act) since I certainly only got the far away impact, lol. It will be interesting to see how the costumes change or stay the same for the inevitable filmed version.

        I’m trying to think of anything I learned by watching the show that has to do with the costumes. King George has less stuff on him each time he comes out. The full coat with the mink tails is just the first time. He interacts more with his surroundings each time he comes out. Eliza is in a light blue empire waist dress in the second half, but then after their son dies, she has a black thing over it. By the very end she’s back in blue. Apparently Jefferson was originally in brown but they changed it for broadway (http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/hamilton-creator-lin-manuel-miranda-the-rolling-stone-interview-20160601?page=11) which make sense for the way his character is introduced (got the biggest “whooo” out of the audience both times with the exception of the first “Alexander Hamilton” by Lin.) Despite the fact that the lyrics say he’s wearing glasses, he is not wearing glasses.

  2. Oooh this looks good. Thanks for the overview – I’ve been wondering what the fuss was all about!

    1. I’ve heard the songs SO MUCH, I was worried the costumes would be super-modern, but it was really satisfying to see they had a legit historical basis!

  3. as a theatrical costumer all I can think is “oh great, when we rent these costumes I’m going to have to hand stitch all those silk taffeta hems in a way that won’t show? ARGH”

  4. I had the good fortune to work on one of his shows (this was almost 20 years ago) and can vouch for the fact that he definitely has a grounding in good historical costuming technique but knows when to deviate. That production had lots of fantastical elements, but you could definitely see the proper historical details underpinning the rest of the design. I accidentally put a machine needle through a nail trying to sew a proper square placket into the underarm of a shirt that I knew full well would barely be visible in the production (it was under a vest, even!) but it was the accurate construction technique for that class of character at that time period. That’s what we were given to build, instead of pulling a passable stripey-shirt out of stock. Details like that matter.

    1. That’s lovely to hear (I mean, not the needle thru the nail, lol)! I’d read a few more articles about Tazewell’s background & was just so impressed. Looking at the high-res pix (& most of these, you can click on them for the bigger versions), you can really see details, fit, & quality that look like they were a great build.

  5. While we’re on the topic of broadway, a comparison of Maria Bjørnson broadway costumes v. the film costumes for Phantom of the Opera would make a good snark week post. There are so many cool costumes in the musical and movie was sooooo awful on that (and other) counts.

  6. Ok, now I really, really want to see this even more. I was already crushing on Lin-Manuel Miranda and now roawrrrrr……..Historical nerd in sexy waistcoats and a fellow Puerto Rican to boot! Aye Dios Mio!

  7. I LOVE the soundtrack! I’ve watched every clip from the show I can find. I had already bought the materials for a 1776 dress before I heard of the show and now I’m even more excited to finish it!

  8. I have been obsessed with Hamilton since a friend in my grad school cohort turned me onto it. Now we pretty much only communicate in Hamilton references.

    I love the costumes from the show judging from the production stills and photographs I’ve seen. Especially the fact that they put the men in hose and shoes after the war scenes! My only quibble, and it’s so small but it really bugs me, is that Daveed Diggs wears that bright purple ensemble, a much more loud outfit than the restrained dress Miranda/Hamilton wears, when the play’s lyrics have Jefferson poking fun at the way Hamilton dresses in phrases that insinuate Hamilton is a loud and tasteless dresser (“The way he primps and preens and dresses like the pits of fashion” and ” Smells like new money, dresses like fake royalty”). The “dresses like fake royalty” comment is just baffling coming from Diggs in that bright purple coat when directed towards Miranda in the (by comparison) pretty unremarkable green waistcoat. Historically, I think the lines make sense, because Chernow’s biography suggests that Hamilton had a penchant for tight clothes in garish colors (at least at one point in life), and I certainly understand why they would put Diggs in the purple coat, but in conjunction with those specific lines in the play I’m just left scratching my head.

    1. Dammit, I think this ate my reply! Oh well, take two…

      I’ve been lucky enough to see the show, and the way Daveed Diggs delivers the lyrics and the way the audience reacts (laughter), I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to point out how hypocritical Jefferson is.
      Genius.com’s annotations (which are approved by Lin-Manuel Miranda) for the “fake royalty” line say that it’s supposed to highlight Jefferson’s lack of self-awareness.

    2. Chernow’s biography also mentions that Jefferson was a huge clothes horse while he lived in France, and only pivoted to the “I’m a simple farmer” look once he came home to America after the war. The stage costuming for Jefferson reflects his earlier look, and in context with that line, serves as a nice device to point out his hypocrisy in criticizing Hamilton without having to give the audience the whole backstory as an infodump.

  9. You touch on most of the observations I had about the costumes. I particularly liked the way they used the “neutral” base for the chorus so that easily added coats etc. could enable visual quick-changes of role, e.g., from British to colonial soldiers. I also liked the way the women’s silhouettes evolved to show the passage of time. Definitely make sure you see it when it goes on tour. The dancing is spectacular too!

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