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Hailing 'Hamilton': Morningside students get freak on for nation's fiercest founding father

Hailing 'Hamilton': Morningside students get freak on for nation's fiercest founding father


SIOUX CITY -- Amy Carothers doesn't mind admitting that Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning musical, "Hamilton," sends her into "full geek mode."

"I cannot tell you how much I love (Miranda)," the Morningside College theater and English double major breathlessly explained. "He's so prolific and his rhymes are so effortless and so clever.

"OK, I'm really geeking out now," said the Cape Coral, Florida, native with a smile.

Carothers was in pretty good company as nearly 20 other Morningside students were reading, rapping and informally performing songs from the Pulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop musical based on the life of America's first Secretary of the Treasury.

This marathon reading of "Hamilton" was sponsored by "Friday is Writing Day," a college group that has been encouraging writers to share their work for nearly 30 years.

"Every year for the past decade, our group has conducted a different campus-wide marathon read," said Morningside English professor Marty Knepper. Last year, the selection was William Shakespeare's "The Tragedy of Macbeth."

"Actually, there's plenty of similarities (between Shakespeare and Miranda)," Knepper said. "Both of them used real-life characters speaking humorously and in a very contemporary way."

More importantly, Shakespeare and Miranda both favored working in iambic pentameter -- a quantitative form of metered poetry that can prove to be a real doozy to recite for the uninitiated.

Luckily, English and legal studies major Allison Linafelter is already a veteran of such lyric-heavy local stage productions of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirate of Penzance" and Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods."

That should help, right?

"When I'm in a show, I memorize the script," Linafelter said. "I didn't do that for 'Hamilton.'"

In fact, all of the participating performers were relying on scripts, karaoke lyrics as well as assistance from YouTube videos during this very informal, impromptu exercise. 

Despite that, Linafelter did a yeoman's job performing the role of one of the trust fund "Schuyler Sisters" in a show-stopping number from "Hamilton"'s first act.

"That was so much fun!" Linafelter told Amber Van Regenmorter and Katelyn Stewart, her two hip-hop siblings.

Unlike most of the other participants, Ellen Osborn actually had the chance to see "Hamilton" on Broadway.

"I've seen other Broadway musicals but 'Hamilton' was like no other experience," said Osborn, an adjunct political science professor. "There was an excitement about the show that was amazing. The audience knew it was going to experience something special."

Self-confessed "fan girl" Carothers already knew "Hamilton" was going to be a special experience after receiving the musical's script.

"Most scripts aren't fun to read but 'Hamilton' is," she said. "More than that, the script makes you want to sing all of the lyrics."

Indeed, Carothers sings a lyric from her favorite "Hamilton" song ("Washington On Your Side") unprompted and without the aid of a script.

"If there's a fire you're trying to douse, you can't put it out from inside the House! I'm in the Cabinet. I am complicit in watching him grabbin' at power and kiss it! If Washington isn't gonna listen to disciplined dissidents, this is the difference, this kid is out!"

Carothers can't help but laugh after reciting such a tongue-twisty verse.

"There aren't very many people who can write a sonnet like that," she said. "Lin-Manuel Miranda truly is our generation's William Shakespeare."


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