Home Arts & Ent. Casting for Hamilton: An Unexpected Crisis

Casting for Hamilton: An Unexpected Crisis

Photo Credit: www.vox.com
Photo Credit: www.vox.com

Alexander Hamilton has been a star on Broadway lately. Although he was never a president, he had a massive historical significance, arguably as great as George Washington’s. Between the development of the bank, founding of The Federalist Paper, his insurmountable contribution to the Constitution, and epic duel with Aaron Burr, (just to name a few of Hamilton’s milestones), there is a lot for play writs to encompass in the award winning Broadway musical, Hamilton.  The play started off as an off-broadway production in February 2015 but achieved its status quo after moving into the Richard Rodgers theater. Critics, celebrities, historians, ordinary people and President Barack Obama alike openly praised the historical musical so much that it convinced my family to try to buy tickets, only to find out that it was sold out for the next few months.

However, the stage light is shining on Hamilton for the wrong reason this week. Many of its fans celebrate the fact that the cast is extremely diverse. The casting producers ignored racial barriers by employing actors of all ethnicities, despite the fact that only white people worked in the government in the late 1700s. For example, actor Daveed Diggs was casted to play Thomas Jefferson, who was of British descent. Embracing different races in acting roles demonstrates how much America has changed from 1776. It also demonstrates the changes society needs to make in the acting industry; just last year, Emma Stone was casted to play an Asian-American in the film Aloha. Despite the fact that her beach blonde hair and her striking green eyes are hardly believable as asian characteristics, it is upsetting that they couldn’t employ one actor who was asian in that movie. Although Hamilton seemed to celebrate diversity among their large cast in New York City, the feeling became ephemeral once a notice was released, stating that it was looking for “non-white” performers to act in the musical in other bustling cities.

The distinction between actors is rubbing Hamilton‘s audience the wrong way. The word “diversity” is meant to incorporate all races, not just minorities. Randolph McLaughlin, an attorney, spoke out about serving the musical with lawsuits over the violation of racial discrimination laws in the workplace, specifically the New York City Human Rights Law. Almost immediately, representatives of the musical apologized withdrew the notice.

Hamilton will most likely remain one of the most popular musicals, despite this controversy. Its depiction of the emergence of America as its own country and the ideologies it was founded on will hopefully spur a revolution in the acting industry, where it will be undebatable that “all men are created equal.”