Broadway juggernaut and feel-good American history sensation of the year Hamilton ignited the internet yet again this week, this time with rumors that casting calls in Philadelphia were open to women auditioning for the roles of President George Washington and political ne’er-do-well Aaron Burr. Casting directors have since come out and said “nope” to the idea, but it’s too late — the idea of a madam president as founding mother has already been planted. But it’s the role of Aaron Burr as a woman that would be most intriguing. Burr-as-woman changes the power dynamics of nearly every scene — and in some fascinating ways. (Ways that are so good we’re almost tempted to think Hamilton composer and star Lin-Manuel Miranda wants it to happen. Could he be that much of a genius?)
Here are five ways the story of Hamilton and Burr would change if Burr were played by a woman:
1. Hamilton: “I’ve been looking for you” / Burr: “I’m getting nervous”
When Hamilton, a young upstart looking to turn his ideas into action, first meets Burr, an accomplished scholar, he follows Burr around, pestering her into giving him advice. Burr offers to buy young Hamilton a drink (because she’s a successful lady who is also generous). And as she shares her very first piece of advice, Hamilton responds with, “You can’t be serious.” #wompwomp #LeadingWhileFemale
This scenario as-written is a pretty standard page from the ambitious go-getter playbook. With Burr as a woman, though, Hamilton would become a rare pop culture phenom that understands that men following women around until they give in to whatever is being asked for is not cute. It’s creepy.
2. “Hamilton...exhibits no restraint/he takes and he takes and he takes/and he keeps winning anyway...What is it like in his shoes?”
All her life, Burr has openly acknowledged her ambition. She works her butt off, plays by the rules, and time and again gets shut out of the boys’ club—err, revolution. Hamilton does WTH he wants, steps on toes, and keeps winning. Double standard? You betcha, and Burr knows it.
3. “Love doesn’t discriminate/between the sinners and the saints...and if there’s a reason I’m by her side/when so many around me have tried”
Burr is singing about her secret love affair — with Theodosia, the wife of a British general. Annnd here’s a whole new reason this love had to stay quiet, and yet another layer of representation in American history...
4. “I have never agreed with Jefferson once. ...Jefferson has my vote.”
Burr starts playing Hamilton’s game. (“I learned it from you.”) And in the 1800 presidential race, Hamilton endorses his lifelong ideological rival rather than vote for his former mentor, Madam Burr. Because Jefferson has beliefs, even if they’re in things like slavery, and “Burr has none.” Guess what else Burr doesn’t have…
5. “I’m willing to wait for it.”
Burr’s signature song. Is she patient? Tenacious? Playing the long game? Or, even after all her work to #LeanIn, still succumbing to gender norms in the end?
Who knows? It’s 2016, and we’re still waiting for it. Let’s make Burr a lady, and kick this conversation up a notch.