Monday, September 3, 2018

Hamilton tour at the Orpheum Theatre

Elijah Malcomb, Joseph Morales, Kyle Scatliffe, Fergie L. Philippe
and Company © Joan Marcus 2018
Hamilton is here! And yes, it is still all that. The touring show, which plays at the Orpheum Theatre through October 7, is every bit as astonishing as you've heard.
You probably know that the musical, written by the unbelievably talented Lin-Manuel Miranda, tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and the beginnings of the United States as we know them today. The Founding Fathers (and Mothers) are played by a beautifully diverse cast of performers, doing every justice to the original production, directed by Thomas Kail, choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, with music supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire.

The opening number tells the story of Hamilton's youth in the Caribbean up to his arrival in America, in just about four minutes. And from there, the show is off and running, and the audience is all in. The performers on this tour are terrific. Joseph Morales is Hamilton, and we'd actually seen him in the role in Chicago in May of 2017. He was an understudy then, but did an awesome job, which he's still doing now.

Nik Walker as Aaron Burr
© Joan Marcus 2018
One thing that's very cool about both of Miranda's shows, Hamilton and In the Heights, is that unlike other Broadway shows, every actor who plays each role doesn't have to be a carbon copy of the actor who originated the role. We definitely saw that with the character of Aaron Burr. The original cast's Leslie Odom Jr. was super-smooth. Daniel Breaker, who we saw in Chicago, was angry. Nik Walker, playing Burr on this tour, has a different feeling to his portrayal, almost as though he's perplexed about Hamilton's rise to the top. Walker also sang the most touching "Dear Theodosia," full of love for his baby daughter. It's fascinating to see three different takes on the same character, and for each of them to be fantastic performances.

Shoba Narayan, Ta'Rea Campbell and Nyla Sostre
as Eliza, Angelica... and Peggy © Joan Marcus 2018
Every member of the cast is excellent, from the Schuyler sisters and Hamilton's wartime compatriots to the ensemble members, who seamlessly change characters with the addition of a coat or a hat, deftly hand off props, and move furniture,
all while beautifully executing the choreography and being totally engaged with the action. David Korins's scenic design and Howell Binkley's lighting clarify the locations without clutter, and Paul Tazewell's costumes are evocative without being overly complicated.

And of course, the musical itself is a masterpiece. Miranda's use of language is masterful, with references to classic musical theater as well as to classic rap and hip-hop. And his wordplay, with its double and triple rhymes and multiple meanings, is so clever that there's always something new to notice, even after hearing it hundreds of times. The narrative is engaging, both as the story of a flawed hero and of the difficulties of establishing a new country.

Joseph Morales as Hamilton with the Company
© Joan Marcus 2018
All of which is to say, if you have thought about seeing the show, you should try to see it before it closes.

If you don't have tickets, it's not too late! This page seems to be the best bet if you want to look for tickets on more than one date. You can't look for more than one date at a time, but you can keep going back to the page to check other dates.

And if you just can't justify $180+ for a ticket, there is also the ticket lottery for a limited number of $10 tickets. That's right, see Hamilton for a Hamilton! Find details here and enter every day. Seriously. Someone has to win!

And before or after you see the show, find out more about your new favorite musical by checking out our extensive Hamilton guides: Part One: What You Need to Know, Part Two: So Now You're Obsessed, and Part Three: A Personal Note.