Monday, July 3, 2017

Hamilton and Kvothe: the Lin-Manuel Miranda Connection

There is something pleasing about merging hip hop with the Colonial times. The juxtaposition between the distinctly modern, inner-city nature of rap and the archaic white-powdered-wigs of America's founding fathers is at once outrageous yet distinctly fitting. The life and times of people like George Washington, Andrew Hamilton and Aaron Burr was shockingly raw, even violent. It was an unrestrained, uncensored era which, surprisingly, fits neatly into the freeform yet eloquent movement of rap and hip hop.

This is probably why the 2015 Broadway musical Hamilton has become something like the smash hit theatrical performance of the 21st century.

Hamilton creator will be involved in Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles
The 2015 Broadway musical Hamilton was an instant-classic
of modern theater 
When Hamilton first erupted into the scene, it took Broadway by storm, becoming nominated for a record-shattering 16 Tony awards (winning 11) and making its creator, lead writer and star actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda, a household name. With its innovative approach to history and its highly literate yet street-smart lyricism, Hamilton was just the sort of play needed to breathe life into the desiccated Broadway scene and introduce stage performance to a whole new demographic.

Unfortunately, since it is so popular, most of us will probably never be able to afford the much-sought-after tickets....

First of all, for those of you who might not be familiar with the play Hamilton, here is a little taste of the music that made it famous. I wanted to find a song with video of the stage performance, but alas, copyright law has relegated available public media to lyrics and music alone.

Here is the song "The Room Where it Happens" from the official soundtrack, a song in which Aaron Burr laments not being a part of the closed-door discussions where founding fathers such as Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison make crucial decisions for the upstart nation of the United States. The envy felt by Burr is part of the animosity that leads ultimately to his famous duel with Hamilton which ends in Hamilton's untimely death.

So how does this all tie in with Kvothe? Or, to step back, who the heck is Kvothe anyway?

As those of you who have followed my blog might be aware, one of my favorite fantasy series of all time is The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. In my opinion, Rothfuss's creation is one of the most beautifully written and literary fantasy epics in modern history. 

A New York Times #1 Bestseller which has sold over 10 million copies, The Kingkiller Chronicles unfolds the story of Kvothe, a prodigious young member of a troop of travelling Edema Ruh (essentially gypsies) whose life revolves around his music, his studies at a prestigious university, and his love of a mysterious and strikingly beautiful girl who calls herself Denna. 

When I heard the series was undergoing a film and television adaptation, I was skeptical as usual when one of my favorite books is tortured into the watered-down medium that is the big screen. A recent announcement, however, piqued my interest about the film project in a new and exciting way.

Hired to be the creative and musical mastermind of The Kingkiller Chronicle's film and television adaptation was none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda.

NYT Bestseller The Name of the Wind
is one of the most innovative fantasy epics
in the modern canon
Yes the genius that brought us the innovative, endlessly entertaining, Pulitzer-and-multiple-Tony-winning production of Hamilton will be behind the steering wheel of bringing one of my favorite books to life on the screen.

Miranda explained his reasoning for being a part of the production in an interview: 

“Pat Rothfuss’ ‘Kingkiller’ books are among the most read and re-read in our home. It’s a world you want to spend lifetimes in, as his many fans will attest. Pat also writes about the act of making music more beautifully than any novelist I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to play a part in bringing this world to life onscreen.”  

As a musician myself, I wholeheartedly agree. It was, in fact, Rothfuss's description of music that largely drew me to the novel series in the first place. In literature music rarely plays such a crucial and beautifully rendered role as it does in Rothfuss's novels. I can't imagine anyone better to bring that magic to life than Miranda.

Almost always, I find myself bitterly disappointed in screen adaptations of my favorite novels. With misguided desires to "action up" everything, Hollywood tends to snip much of the color that makes a book special in lieu of action sequences and chase scenes. This bit of news, however, that two writers whom I greatly respect will be coming together for this project, has made me almost giddy with excitement.

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