Hamilton has been so thoroughly discussed and picked apart ever since it first premiered at the Public Theater that it’s really nice that the Disney+ version brings a new detail of the show to the center of the conversation — that it highlights those aspects you can behold most clearly when film and theater collide. We’re talking, of course, about the close-ups of Jonathan Groff’s King George spit. And the sweat that you can see coming off all the other performers (especially Christopher Jackson in act two) and the moments when everyone takes their breaths (especially when Renée Elise Goldsberry is powering through “Satisfied”). But mostly, that spit.
For those who might only know him from his TV career, Jonathan Groff is a famous stage spitter, so much so that Vulture has been on this story since 2009. When he sashays into the center stage as King George III in the filmed version of Hamilton, it’s impossible not to notice, for instance, this moment in “You’ll Be Back”:
As Vulture’s Helen Shaw put it in her review, “Jonathan Groff is one of those performers I think is a genius, but I actually would like to be back in row seven watching him — because he … is a moist actor. He’s a spitter!” Luckily it works for the tenor of the show and his character. “As the camera gets closer and closer to him,” Shaw adds, “and it’s more and more obvious that he’s in this extreme pancake makeup, that his hair is this disgusting Georgian wig, and that he’s frothing at the mouth with his need for loyalty which he won’t ever repay — I thought, maybe I missed this the first time around, but this seems like a Trumpian figure in its cosmetic as well as in its moral components.”
Oh no, I think we need another GIF, this time from “What Comes Next?”:
Behold the saliva! The enunciation! The bodily humanity! This is what live theater is all about.