Hamilton manages to pack a lot into its two hour run-time; marriages, affairs, wars, and – oh yeah, the life of one of America’s founding fathers. It’s more than many musicals can claim to even touch base on. Whilst many were initially sceptical of a musical that fell so heavily into the rap and hip-hop genres, it allowed creator Lin-Manuel Miranda the breathing room to cover a side of American history that most don’t remember.
In fact, if Hamilton was performed like a “normal” musical, Lin explained, “it would have to be 12 hours long, because the amount of words on the bars when you’re writing a typical song — that’s maybe got 10 words per line, whereas here we can cram all this shit in all the margins.”
To save us all doing the maths, FiveThirtyEight have double checked the numbers – all two hours and twenty-three minutes of them. With a total of 20,520 words and 144 words a minute, I’m starting to question how I learnt the soundtrack by heart whilst working for my A-levels. Although Lin’s guess was a little off; FiveThirtyEight estimate that Hamilton would actually take anywhere between four to six hours to perform if sung at the same pace as many other Broadway shows, which is still an impressive feat.
In one of those more meta ‘art imitating life’ ways, Lin seems to have written Hamilton like he’s “running out of time”. The fastest tracks in the musical, Guns and Ships and Satisfied, are just under 200 words a minute each, with Daveed Diggs iconic rap now engrained in pop culture and Renée Elise Goldsberry’s fast-paced performance as Angelica getting more heart-wrenching every time.
One fan theory even suggested that Eliza is one of the few characters that doesn’t rap because she knows that she has time to explain her story, unlike her husband or her sister… Someone get the tissues out, please.
But perhaps it’s a good thing Hamilton doesn’t reach a six hour runtime. After all, it would take us all a lot longer to re-watch it again and again on Disney+.
Words by Harriet Metcalfe.
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