Deborah Rose column: It’s great to see kids get excited about history
I like music. A lot. My daughter follows in my footsteps.
Not only does Eleanor blast her favorite tunes, but she blasts them on repeat, just like me.
In recent weeks, several of the songs from the “Hamilton: An American Musical” soundtrack have been resonating throughout our house and our car.
My 9-year-old is caught up with a handful of songs, including “Alexander Hamilton,” “The Schuyler Sisters” and “You’ll Be Back.”
And she can sing them word for word. The only song I can remember all the lyrics to is “Happy Birthday.”
The majority of the production’s songs are catchy. We especially like “You’ll Be Back,” which was first sung on Broadway by Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff, who also voiced Kristoff and Sven in the “Frozen” franchise.
Eleanor was surprised to learn Groff portrayed the role of King George in “Hamilton,” a fact I think attracted her even more to the song.
“Hamilton” first premiered on Feb. 17, 2015, off-Broadway and Aug. 6, 2015, on Broadway.
My family appreciates theater and enjoys a trip to community theater or beyond, but we never made it to see this original hit production created by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
I knew the premise of the show — it tells the story of American statesman Alexander Hamilton, who was the country’s first secretary of the treasury and one of our country’s founding fathers — but I knew little of the music.
That’s all changed.
My family marked our calendar when we learned Disney+ would premier the musical film comprising of a live recording of the Broadway musical last month.
At first, it took me a little bit to get into the show and its music, which features a mix of hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway styles. But overall, I really enjoyed it and am now singing along to some of the songs.
Eleanor and her brother Nathaniel didn’t make it through the whole show, but the music created a lasting impression with them, especially Eleanor. And I’m OK with that.
Hamilton was a legal scholar, military commander, banker, lawyer and economist. He was the founder of the nation’s financial system, the Federalist Party, the United States Coast Guard and the New York Post newspaper.
That’s history, and our children need to know it.
After listening to the soundtrack the first few times, Eleanor asked for a book about Hamilton because she wants to learn more about him.
My kids already have an appreciation for theater and film. Several musicals they’ve seen — which are based on books — are set at significant times in history.
Among them, “The Sound of Music,” which is set in Austria and explores how a family survives the loss of their homeland to the Nazis, and “Les Miserables,” which is set in France and delves into the country’s history, including politics and the French Revolution, moral philosophy, religion and architecture.
Some of the topics in these stories and “Hamilton” are mature and heavy. But the stories provide kids with a unique way to learn about historical events, people and topics that they may otherwise be uninterested in.
So, if “Hamilton” or the music of a show like “Hamilton” or “Les Mis” gets a child excited about history, I’m all for it.
Eleanor might be all talk about reading a book about Hamilton. I won’t know unless I get her a book. But even if she’s all talk, that’s OK. Her interest in something piqued and that’s exciting.
I’m fairly certain she will correctly answer any question about Alexander Hamilton on school tests in the future. She has learned all about him from the musical.
Kids are sponges. They absorb everything around them. In today’s society, especially, children thrive on the visual. So expose them to documentaries, films and musicals that highlight historical events.
You never know what they will take away.
Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.