Broadway in Chicago presents HAMILTON.
This was my third opportunity to experience Lin-Manual Miranda’s masterpiece live. And I LOVED every note of it. I am forever in awe of Miranda’s genius in dusting off a founding father’s biography and telling the story in a contemporary and innovative way. The show is sung and rapped by a culturally diverse cast. Miranda’s music is a mix of head-bopping hip-hop, heart piercing soulfulness and cerebral tickling wit. He perfectly balances playfulness, history and humanity in this loving tribute to the birth of a nation.
Having listened to the original cast recording a bazillion times, my response to the current production is both tougher and easier. I want the Tony and Grammy Award-winning cast delivery. Yet, I’m already in love with the show before Burr (played by an impressive Deon’te Goodman) asks his first question.
Although this ensemble is tight, a few times a song didn’t deliver the anticipated powerhouse punch of the unforgettable original cast. Still, under the musical direction of Alex Lacamoire, Miranda’s magnificent score is realized and “Satisfied.” Some standout performances are Nikisha Williams’ (Eliza) beautiful rendition of “Burn,” Jared Howelton’s (Jefferson/Lafayette) animated “What Did I Miss?,” and Marcus Choi’s (Washington) majestic “One Last Time.” Goodman, in particular, shows range with a fierce “In the Room Where Happens” and later a quietly contemplative “The World Was Wide Enough.” He also duets with Pierre Jean Gonzalez (Hamilton) for a lovingly devoted “Dear Theodosia.” Gonzalez continually commands the stage with an earnest “My Shot.” And as always, “It’s Quiet Uptown” reduced me to tears!
Miranda’s music. Is. Mind-blowing! Even though the storytelling score would be enough, the drama, the dancing (Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler) and the humor escalate the entertainment value. A nimble Howelton uses timing and his physicality for comedy gold. Neil Haskell (King George) hilariously sings through clenched teeth. On Thursday night, subtle nuisances, that I never noticed before or were layered in later by Director Thomas Kail, captivate me. A tablecloth is jerked away from Goodman in mid-air. After “It’s Quiet Uptown” Howelton jokingly lightens the mood as Eddie Ortega (Madison/Mulligan) is wiping his tears. (Same, President Madison, same!) And in the first act, Gonzalez, Howelton, Ortega and Tyler Fauntleroy (Laurens/Phillip) display a brotherly camaraderie in their jesting, rabble-rousing and singing “The Story of Tonight.”
Previously, HAMILTON ran in Chicago for three years at the small CBIC Theatre. Currently, it will run for the next three months at the much bigger Nederlander Theatre. None of the engagement is missing in the less intimate venue. If anything, on press night, the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction to every joke, every song, every minute was infectious. Not that I needed any vivacity boost, I’m a diehard fanatic. HAMILTON is my GOAT musical! Hey Chicago, don’t throw away your shot, get your ticket quick!
Running Time: Two hours and forty-five minutes includes an intermission
At James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph
Based on Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton
Book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manual Miranda
Directed by Thomas Nail
Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler
Musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30pm
Wednesdays at 1:30pm
Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm
Sundays at 1:30pm and 7:30pm
Thru December 30th
Production photos by Joan Marcus
For more Chicago theatre information and reviews, please visit Theatre in Chicago