The Tony Awards were last night and were completely stunning with James Corden killing it as the host and amazing performances from everyone! Bright Star skyrocketed to the top of my must see when I go to NYC in September, joining Hamilton and The Waitress. The Color Purple stunned everyone watching and Shuffle Along and Spring Awakening confirmed that they were robbed of the Best Choreography and Best Direction Tonys respectively.
But one complaint I’ve been seeing a lot is the choice of Hamilton to perform Yorktown (World Turned Upside Down) and since I’ve been defending that choice all over the internet (apparently this is a hill I will die on, who knew?) I thought I’d write up why.
I honestly don’t think there was any other choice for the Tonys, especially since they already performed Alexander Hamilton at the Grammy’s. I’ve heard Non-Stop being thrown around as a superior choice or doing a compilation of Satisfied and Room Where It Happens and I just don’t think either of those options would have the same weight as Yorktown.
For people who don’t know Hamilton backwards and forwards they know it primarily as a hip-hop historical musical and no matter your level of history education you know that the end of the Revolutionary War was major. Hamilton is being billed as a story of America and what better way to showcase that than with the number that seals Americas fate. Other choices might’ve showcased Lin’s clever words better or individual members (but Leslie Odom Jr, Phillipa Soo and Renee Elise Goldsberry got to showcase their talents in the closing number) but there’s just not another number in the musical that showcases the heart of the story without needing any other context.
Chris Jackson’s presence draws you in and then the company going into “who lives, who dies, who tells your story” is so haunting I get chills every time. “I know that we can win, I know that greatness lies in you.” He’s speaking to the room, to us, to the world. And then the transition to the upbeat telling of the Revolutionary War we all know showcasing the marvelous company.
And while obviously Yorktown was chosen as the number long before the shooting at Pulse, the ending of Yorktown in the wake of yet another gun-fueled terrorist act in this country speaks to how we can, we HAVE to turn the world upside down. Yorktown is a revolutionary song in a time when we need a revolution and there is no other song in Hamilton that could drive that message home.