Hamilton: Portraits of the Revolution

Rizzoli. Apr. 2020. 208p. ISBN 9780789336804. $35. THEATER
Since its off-Broadway debut in 2015, Hamilton: An American Musical has transformed the landscape of American theater. This book, only the second to be officially endorsed by the musical’s creators, takes an entirely different tack from its information-heavy forerunner, Hamilton: The Revolution, presenting a disarming study in stillness: Hamilton through the medium of portraiture. Lehrer draws from his experience photographing homeless trans youth, using the same 1840 Petzval lens as he presents 100-plus intimate cast portraits. Familiarly costumed actors, both famous and obscure, are not captured in the midst of their performances; instead, they look boldly at the camera in poses reminiscent of the historic personas they subversively portray (occasionally portraits of these figures appear as well). Forewords by the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and director Thomas Kail lend artistic approval to this choice, which at times risks falling flat owing to the series’s repetitive starkness. Lehrer’s occasional commentary likewise supports the book’s vision but never overwhelms its defiant quietude.
VERDICT A reflective look at Hamilton’s vibrant characters and cast, told through the subtle art of portraiture. Recommended for super fans of the musical, but with appeal for anyone who loves Broadway and those interested in Lehrer’s technique.
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