HAMILTON is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.
With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
I suspect that by now, Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda’s monster hit musical is missing from bookshelves all over the city. At least, if the sold-out crowds leaving Hamilton feel the same way that I did – wanting to learn more. That in itself is telling. I was NEVER a history guy. It was always a chore to me so if a musical is inspiring me to go out and learn more about history it must be good right?
Good isn’t strong enough. Great isn’t strong enough. Fantastic? Amazing? None of these feel strong enough for Hamilton. That’s hyperbole right? I don’t know. It’s hard to quantify how wonderful of an experience this show is. Even after years of hype and praise, this show exceeds that, it’s above that. Its message is more important than hype. That fact was on full display when the line “immigrants, we get the job done” brought the audience to a roar of applause. That carried throughout the night. The crowd was excellent, among the best audiences I’ve experienced at a show. The love for this show is palpable and it charged the air in that theatre.
Hamilton lives up to the hype
As I was sitting and waiting for the show to begin, I thought to myself that there is no way that this show can live up to what I’ve heard of it. It’s not possible. The hype and conversation over the past few years has been off the charts. I don’t think a musical has ever been talked about as much or as strongly as Hamilton. It’s a phenomenon, and surely could not withstand that kind of pressure. Well it does, effortlessly, it seems.
The cast is incredible. The performances are electric, layered, alive in ways that make you feel for them immediately. They make you laugh, and most certainly they make you cry. Michael Luwoye is spectacular as Hamilton. His performance of “It’s Quiet Uptown” had me in tears. There is not a weak spot in his performance be it singing, rapping, whatever he has to do he does it flawlessly. The entire cast is much the same way. One of the great things about this show is that every character gets a chance to shine. They get their moment and every one was delivered perfectly. I could list every cast member and we’d be here all day because every member of that company is excellent. If I had to pick some highlights, Emmy Raver-Lampman is a wonderful and charming Angelica, Isaiah Johnson is so good as Washington that I want to vote for him to be president, and Jordan Donica is tremendous as both Lafayette and Jefferson. Let’s not forget Rory O’Malley either, he does such a great job as King George. I wanted him to sit on stage reacting to the show the entire time. I could keep going honestly, everyone was so great. Mathenee Treco was SO good as Hercules Mulligan/Madison, Rubén J. Carbajal nailed his duel role of Phillip and Larens. Solea Pfeiffer was heartbreaking as Eliza. Her performance of “Burn” was beyond. Joshua Henry makes for a terrific Aaron Burr. He really nails the anger and jealousy and his performances were mesmerizing. Seriously, I loved every person in this cast.
The songs, just man, it’s a whole different thing seeing these songs performed as opposed to hearing the cast recording. They take on an entire new life. They can make you cry one moment and want to be on your feet screaming the next.
I’m starting to ramble here. Go see this show. Anyway you can. Download the app, try the lottery, it takes virtually no effort. Experience this for yourself and you’ll find this to be one of the greatest musicals of all time. It’s certainly, far and away, the best show I have ever seen. I’m ready to see it again, in fact I’m listening to it as I write this.
Hamilton is more than a show, it’s a message. It’s a shout into the darkness against the darkness we as a country are finding ourselves in. It’s important, it’s necessary. From the story, to the cast, this is a perfect example of art making a statement and proving just how impactful and needed musical theater continues to be.
Go see it. Take your family, take your friends. You will not regret it. You’ll be singing it on the way home.
Hamilton is up at the Hollywood Pantages now through December 30.
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Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.