November 13, 2020 By Maurizio Lalo Off

The Costumes of Hamilton – Historically Correct, Or More Issues?

The Broadway musical “Hamilton” has sold out since the end of time. This is perhaps best known for its musical numbers, but the costumes of Hamilton are iconic, too! 

Michael Tazewell

Tony Award-nominated costume designer and “Hamilton” co-creator Michael Tazewell worked with writer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda on “In the Heights.” ‘The Heights’ and costumes designed for the height of Memphis Hamilton calls “The Color Purple” a “proud project”. When I first got the script, I knew I hadn’t worked on it for 26 years. But no one had approached me, except Google, and neither had I.     

After collecting hundreds of thousands of images from the archives of the US National Archives, we have created a database of more than 1.5 million images from the 18th century. We as well created thousands more from around the world. 

The Challenge! Demand satisfaction!     

The challenge then was to combine Miranda’s contemporary hip-hop performance. Tazewell said “most elementary school people know” the traditional costumes. But he and his team had to modify to make them more suitable for dancing on stage. It was decided that everything from the shoulders down would reflect the times. And that everything around the neck would be modern. In normal production, there are two main costumes. One for the main characters and the other for each of the dancers. 

The costumes   

The feminine ensemble features modern cut leggings with built-in stretch panels on the shoulders and a modern, stretchy trouser. Instead of running shoes, some of the cast wear riding boots, which he says are just as comfortable.     

Jefferson   

Thomas Jefferson is remembered as a down-to-earth man. So, Tazewell originally dressed him in an earthy brown, but actor Daveed Diggs brought such rock star status to the role that he eventually traded his dreary threads for a purple coat inspired by Prince and Jimi Hendrix. Schuyler’s sister, who plays the title role in Act II (and one of the show’s most important roles), brings sexy back to the 18th century. Mine “stands out because the ensemble has a creamy, neutral tone, like parchment paper, she explains.     

The dress is made of a combination of wool, silk, and cotton, with a high-tech fabric and assembly line at the waist to maximize mobility. 

King George III

The outfit is a replica of the British monarch in a famous portrait, and the exaggerated frivolity helps to turn the figure into a caricature of himself. King George III, originally played by Jonathan Groff, is the only character whose gaze makes tears spill over the pages of a history book. In the show, he is portrayed as rather silly, but in real life, he is a man of few words and no sense of humor.     

Designing 

On the costumes of Hamilton design, Tazewell said: “It’s pretty organic in how it all comes together. Organic or not, this brilliance has earned this show a Tony nomination for Outstanding Costume Design.     

The Broadway production works so well that the greatness of Hamilton is passed not on to us, but to the actors and the audience.     

At a conference on stage later in the day, I struggled to say a word to describe the frenzied popularity. The show as a whole range from its contemporary treatment to historical fiction to historical treatment and back again.

More costumes! Who do you think are better – those of Wicked or those of the Phantom of the Opera!