Theatre Review: Hamilton Worth the Wait
If you weren’t aware, a little musical by the name of Hamilton opened in Columbus this week. Columbus has only been waiting, oh, about two years for this! And, dayum, Hamilton is definitely worth the wait!
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers in a modern, contemporary way – a brilliant refreshing take on what many may see as a boring lesson in history. Miranda was inspired by the book, Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow.
Using rap, hip-hop battles, spoken word poetry, jazz, blues, ballads, a splash of current politics, and even a little dancing à la Fortnite, Hamilton’s score is one you will have buzzing in your head days after the show.
Without any major changes to the set during the show, scenic designer David Korins is able to portray many different scenes by lowering lights, creating motion with a circular moving floor, and having a few options with moving ladders. A favorite scene brought up memories of Hamilton as a child in the eye of the hurricane in his native West Indies, using lighting design by Howell Binkley to create a swirling motion all around Hamilton.
The National Touring cast performs so well together, it doesn’t feel like you are missing out by not watching the original Broadway production. In the Wednesday, January 30th performance in Columbus, Edred Utomi stars as Alexander Hamilton, Hannah Cruz as Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Ferguson as Aaron Burr, Paul Oakley Stovall as George Washington, and Peter Matthew Smith as King George.
Yes, King George plays a role, it is The Revolution and all. The King pops in between scenes with his songs escalating from a salty, snarky, ‘I’ll show you’, tone to a ‘I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love’ as he watches his little group of subjects rise up and defy him. All sung in a lovely, light-hearted manner set to a catchy tune.
Act II starts with a whoosh of purple velvet as Thomas Jefferson, played by Bryson Bruce arrives from France ready to get this new nation going. He and James Madison (Chaundre Hall-Broomfield) make a pretty good team and disagree with George Washington and his right-hand man Hamilton.
As George Washington, Stovall has a towering presence that is strong, yet fatherly. Even though he has a soft spot for Hamilton, he shows him that he still needs to work with others to lead and learn to compromise.
Miranda’s use of a rap battle during the Cabinet debates between Jefferson and Hamilton to convey their differing opinions of the federal government’s role over the states is a compelling way to share this part of history that is often perceived as boring. Stovall is really fun to watch as he mediates the debates.
Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton have to come to an agreement on the financial plan that Hamilton, the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, has developed and get it passed through Congress. The three of them come to an agreement in “The Room Where It Happens” which really irritates Burr, who really wants to be in that room. It’s a fun time in politics.
Burr narrates to move the musical along, often starting scenes with ‘how does the bastard, orphan, son of a whore Alexander Hamilton’ manage to raise his social status as much as he does.
Hamilton and Burr had a complicated relationship. Burr was one of the first people that Hamilton met, but instead of a good friendship, the two became bitter rivals whose disagreements culminated into a duel and you probably know the history of what happened then.
Hamilton had other complicated relationships as well, especially with the ladies. He puts his wife Eliza through many distresses, but in the end she goes on to honor her husband’s upbringing by starting the first private orphanage in New York City, the New York Orphan Asylum Society, which exists today as Graham Windham.
Closing with her story is a more uplifting ending than closing on Burr’s scene would have been… the duel being a decision that, although it did not end his life, it ultimately ruined it. The comparison of the two leaves you thinking about what your story is – how will you be talked about and remembered when you are gone?
Hamilton is a fun evening, filled with bright costumes, memorable songs, dancing, catchy phrases, powerful performances, and of course, history!
For tickets: A number of tickets are being released periodically for upcoming performances of HAMILTON. Visit the CAPA Ticket Center or Ticketmaster.com for availability.
There’s also a lottery for $10 tickets to each performance. You can enter two days prior to each performance here: https://hamiltonmusical.com/lottery.
Hamilton runs through February 17 at the Ohio Theatre with varying performance times. For more information, visit capa.com.