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Hamilton ~ The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Jordan Wright
June 15, 2018 

So… HamiltonYes!  It’s beyond everything you’ve heard it is – and so much more – a ground breaking revolution in musical theater based on one of America’s most accomplished and influential American Revolutionary heroes.  Told in the poetry of hip-hop and rap and made emotional through bluesy ballads, this radical, freewheeling oeuvre heralds Hamilton’s arrival to America as a bastard immigrant (possibly mixed race) orphan whose groundbreaking achievements to establish a government and financial system – separate and apart from the oppression of King George’s England – helped form the foundation of our country.  Got it?  Unless you’ve recently reviewed your sixth-grade history, I suggest you Google the libretto and buy the show’s CD so you can be well prepared to (mentally, please!) hum along.  I tell you this because the rhyming patter comes at you in warp speed which is what makes it palpable, both on stage and in the quickened hearts of the audience who are breathlessly leaning in from the first note.

Hamilton Company - Photo credit Joan Marcus

If you’re familiar with Lin-Manuel Miranda (PBS has a terrific documentary running on the making of Hamilton), whose previous hit musical In the Heights catapulted him to fame, you can sense his mind at work here – his sensitivity to struggle, his compassion for the immigrant and his all-around, too-cool-for-school hipness that is in full view with every turn of phrase.  The man is a genius and an original.  In the same way that Shakespeare mixed stories of love and despair between commoners and landed gentry, Miranda has his pulse on the grand scheme of life.

Shoba Narayan, Ta'Rea Campbell and Nyle Sostre ~ Joan Marcus

One of the most engaging features of the show, is the constant motion of the performers.  Whether dancing, fighting or just rapping, the main stage rotates in a wide circle, affording the actors constant interplay and showing us just how interconnected our Founding Fathers were – Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Burr and the Marquis de Lafayette (Because, what would we have done without the French? Oh, right, lost the Revolutionary War.)  They all were so young when they birthed our nation.  American history brought to life and, as the song goes, we are in the room where it happened.

Miguel Cervantes and Jose Ramos ~ Photo credit Joan Marcus

Austin Scott as Alexander Hamilton is fierce.  We’re into him immediately.  His confidence and stride mark the character’s brash youthfulness, exactly as we would wish him to be.  Peter Matthew Smith in the role of King George provides the comic relief as the prissy king who believes the Americans will beg to return to British rule.  And for those of you fortunate enough to have seen it in New York, Carvens Lissaint, now plays Hamilton’s mentor, George Washington, and Nicholas Christopher, who was George Washington in the original cast, now plays Aaron Burr.  Gracing the female side, Julia K. Harrriman, displaying her stunning voice, plays Hamilton’s long-suffering wife, Eliza.

Rory O'Malley ~ Photo credit Joan Marcus

The program lists 34 songs, but as a sing through, it’s all vocals with full orchestra masterfully conducted by Julian Reeve.

Facts: Hamilton is the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was recently nominated for a record breaking 16 Tony Award® nominations, including Best Musical.  With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical direction and orchestrations by Alex LacamoireHamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.  Scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe.

Mathenee Treco, Jordan Donica, Ruben J. Carbajal & Michael Luwoye ~ Photo credit Joan Marcus

Additional cast members: Sabrina Sloane as Angelica Schuyler, Bryson Bruce as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Chaundre Hall-Broomfield as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Rubén J. Carbajal as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, Isa Briones as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, Alexander Ferguson as Philip Schuyler/James Reynolds/Doctor, Andrew Wojtal as Samuel Seabury, Robbie Nicholson as Charles Lee and Raymond Baynard as George Eacker.

This is the one you’ve been waiting for.  Go!

Through September 16th at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St., NW, Washington, DC.  For tickets and information for future shows call 202 467-4600 or visit online.

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