My daughter is absolutely obsessed with the new and amazing musical, “Hamilton”. With its roster of phenomenal actors, fun and thought provoking songs, and a rich historical context, this musical has swept the nation in its exciting way of bringing history to life. My daughter and her friends listen to the soundtrack every day, engage in historical rap battles with each other, and dream up cosplay costumes based on the characters in the show. For her, it’s an obsession based in music, fun, and history (and a TON of admiration for Lin Manuel Miranda – she’s obsessed). For me, it’s bringing history to life in a way I’ve never seen before! All I remembered from school, was that Alexander Hamilton was assassinated by Aaron Burr, sometime around the Revolutionary War. As it turns out, there’s an incredibly provoking and complex story about him and his life that’s also wrapped up in the fascinating story of the Revolutionary War itself!
So this week, when I bought several boxes of peeps for our Easter Science Experiments (more on that to come!), Katie and I had an awesome idea: Let’s build a Hamilton stage out of Peeps! We could make signs, use some of her favorite lyrics from the song, and we could both share in something she loves so much while spending some great quality time together!
Over the next two days, when the little one would go to sleep, Katie and I would stay up until past midnight, working on our creations. She would blast the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat, laughing at her favorite lines, explaining some of the context to me, and telling me all of her nicknames that she came up with for some of the characters. Meanwhile, I was raiding my goodwill donation bag for fabric, and digging into my highly protected workshop supply box for all kinds of materials! What we ended up creating was super fun, super cool, and something we are both incredibly proud of!
So, without further ado, here it is:
Hamilton: The Marshmallow Musical!
First, we have the cast of characters! From left to right, we have Thomas Jefferson, Aaron “Bird”, Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy(!), King George, Alexander Hamilton, John Laurens, Hercules Mulligan, Lafayette, and General George Washington.
Here we have King George telling the revolutionaries that it’s super great that they have their own colonies now. It’s suuuuper easy to run their own colonies! You can tell how sincere he is by how he’s telling them how awesome it is and how he’s super impressed by their gumption. Oh, and he’ll totally give them any advice they need if things get tough and they come crawling back to him. (Sarcasm, obviously. This is one of my favorite songs!)
Next we have a scene that Katie put together, comprising some of her favorite moments in the soundtrack with this staging. Here we have a desk that she made, with the federalist papers, a quill, and a candle, and Hamilton standing on top of the table declaring “I am not giving away my shot!”, with Aaron Burr telling him to sit down, while General Washington is telling Hamilton he needs him as his right hand man. This is a sort of mashup of some of her favorite moments, and I love how this scene turned out!
Katie says Hamilton got so excited about going to war and declaring independence from the British, that he flipped the table and ran down the street shouting “I am not giving away my shot!” to everyone he could see. Meanwhile, John Laurens is watching from the background, while Washington is trying to get his right hand man back.
Here we have another scene of a fantastic song “The Story of Tonight”, where the revolutionaries are meeting up and pumping themselves up to go to war. They’re inspired by freedom, inspired to take the reigns of their own lives, and their own country. In this scene, we see Hamilton, Lafayette, Laurens, Burr, and Mulligan sitting around a makeshift table, with little index cards standing in as beer mugs.
In this scene for the song “Take A Break”, Hamilton’s wife Eliza is pleading with him to take a break from the years at war and the years of politics to stay with her and his family over the summer. I believe at this point, he had been gone for 8 years. Eliza and her sister Angelica are pleading with him to just take a break, while he is caught up with keeping his job, working for his country, and getting his plans through congress.
In this scene for the song “Yorktown”, the revolutionaries are discussing their plan for finishing the war and declaring independence from the British. When wondering how they know their plans will work, it is announced that they have a spy on the inside, Hercules Mulligan! He’s delivering intel to the Americans from the British, to aid in their success of the war! In a delightful homage to our country’s history, we see how immigrants from other countries came together to fight for freedom and independence. Immigrants, they get the job done!
While the wives and friends are pleading for the revolutionaries to stay alive during their battle, the men are discussing the inner workings of politics in battle. While talking about how Lee was promoted to General instead of him, Lee pops in with “I’m a General, WHEE!!!”. This is one of Katie’s favorite lines in the soundtrack.
Finally, we’ve reached the end of the revolutionary war. The Americans have won! Hooray! We’re now an independent nation! Thomas Jefferson had been in Paris, working with them to supply guns and ships to the American revolutionaries. Now, the war is over, and the revolutionaries are ecstatic that he is returning so they can work on the founding of their country! Once he arrives, he asks, “what did I miss?” during the entirety of the revolutionary war.
CLOSEUPS AND DETAILS
It was a lot of fun making this peep setup with Katie! What started as an idea of just using the peeps themselves, quickly ballooned into a full set design with props and intricate costumes. We began with felt paper, sequins, and hot glue. Soon, however, we were raiding our Goodwill donation bags for fabic, lace, sequins, and more! Here are some of the closeup shots, where you can see more detail of what went into these fun costumes and props.
Thomas Jefferson was made with an old Christmas ribbon, cut up to make his coat. We used scraps from a furry coat to make his sleeves and decorative tie. We used a hole puncher with valentine’s day hearts to punch out sparkly circles for the buttons on his shirt. His hair was made with an old sweater of mine that Katie discovered would make the PERFECT hair!
John Laurens is perhaps Katie’s favorite character in the whole musical. She thinks he is absolutely fabulous and he was the first character she “claimed” for creating. He is made with an old purple dress shirt with purple sequins, some denim jeans for his shirt, my old sweater for his hair, and some pink felt for his blushing cheeks.
Penny only appears once during the musical, but her “Aaaand PENNY!” demands attention and recognition for this fabulous character! Her dress is made with and old yellow baby dress, and some glittery ribbon that was taken from some Christmas jingle bells. Her hair was made with the same sweater as the other characters, while her bow was made with some tulle from the yellow baby dress.
General George Washington was one of the trickier characters to make, as we really wanted to get his sash, hat, and decorations right, but we weren’t sure how to accomplish that! We used old denim for his waistcoat, silk inlay from an old fuzzy jacket for his dress shirt, a onesie for his sash, craft foam for his military decorations, and an old baby skirt with a sequin for his hat! As he came together, we were both really excited to see how he turned out! He’s one of my favorite characters, and I’m so glad we brought him together like this!
King George was made with a giant peep rabbit. We figured that he would need to be the biggest character, to represent the imposing nature of his monarchy over the revolutionaries who were seeking independence and freedom from taxation without representation. He was made with a linen napkin, gold craft foam, an old Christmas ribbon, and Valentine’s day hearts that were cut with a hole puncher for the buttons down his robe. His fuzzy hair and robe decorations were made with pieces of an old fuzzy baby coat!
I was super impressed with this table that Katie made for the Federalist papers! Katie made this with cardboard, aluminum foil, lace, and fabric. Then she actually made scraps of the Federalist papers with call backs to different parts of the musical! She made candles and ink wells with melted glue sticks, and a feathered quill with fluff, a toothpick, and paint. I love how this table looks, it was so cool to watch it all come together!
We still haven’t been able to see the musical, but my daughter has had the soundtrack on repeat for months. She and her friends act out various parts, develop nicknames for characters, draw fanart for them, and are all around obsessed with this musical. I love this so much! Truthfully, while I knew of it, and knew some of the songs, I didn’t fully understand how epic and amazing it was until we started working on the project. Suddenly, listening to all of the songs, working on this with my daughter, and imagining all of the history I had learned as a child come to light in a brilliant and engaging new way, was absolutely incredible! It was wonderful to connect with my daughter through this, and it was really fun trying to navigate the challenges of bringing our ideas for the costumes to life!
I will have to say, Katie came up with most of the designs, slogans, and the staging. I just helped bring it together with some of the materials and bringing some of her designs to life. This was, by all accounts, a project of equal input and design, and it was so cool to see what she came up with!
As for what she’s going to do with them now? I’m pretty sure these characters are going to stay in her room for as long as she can have them, while she stages them around in different settings and environments. I guess that itself will be a new experiment, where we’ll get to see just how long peeps will last in costume!