Why beat around the bush? Hamilton is stunning.
It’s fascinating, it’s beautiful, and, yes, it’s revolutionary. It requires attention, make no mistake about it. But somehow those revolutionary changes to music and casting seem the most natural thing in the world, once the lights go up.
Alexander Hamilton, boy wonder, orphaned illegitimate child, immigrant and (only hinted at here because there’s so much more to say) intellectual giant had more than enough drama in his life. It’s condensed, of course, and while it’s inspired by – the official phrase – the Ron Chernow biography, there are liberties taken with the story. Don’t get excited, for instance, when the Schuyler sisters, one of whom becomes Hamilton’s wife, don’t get married off in the correct order.
That sort of thing is no big deal in the overall experience except perhaps to Hamiltonian scholars. The ensemble assembled for this company is excellent, led by Austin Scott as Hamilton himself. Eliza Hamilton, his wife, is Julia K. Harriman, and his nemesis Aaron Burr is played by Nicholas Christopher. They shine, too. Among the notable supporting cast are Chris De’Sean Lee as both the Marquis de Lafayette and then as Thomas Jefferson, a very different sort of Mr. Jefferson than many people conjure up in their heads, and Peter Matthew Smith’s King George III, whose appearances in the show are inevitably a romp.
Superb choreography from Andy Blankenbuehler – he won a Tony for it – is obvious, even to those who don’t pay much attention to these things. It’s a fine set from David Korins, but the lighting, by Howell Binkley, who also took a Tony for his work, is particularly remarkable, with lights that move up and down vaguely reminiscent of fireflies, even though they’re only following straight lines.
Amazingly, nearly all the hip-hop/rap dialogue is audible, this on the second night of the show in a venue where sound is still somewhat tricky. I admit I read the Chernow biography in the past year. The show has left more than one audience member planning on doing the same. But there are plenty of fans who come at it from another angle. Behind me at intermission, I heard a young woman, perhaps middle-school age, carol, “It’s everything I ever dreamed of!”
Well, not quite. But how marvelous to see something so vaunted turn out to be indeed very worthwhile.
through April 22
527 N. Grand