Regional Reviews: Boston
If this musical about the Founding Fathers and the birth of our nation will resonate anywhere, it takes on an additional layer of meaning here in Boston, owing to our city's deep connection to the Revolutionary War. The action in Hamilton occurs primarily in New York, where the immigrant orphan Alexander Hamilton meets Aaron Burr, a pivotal figure in his life (and death), and forges relationships that set him on a course to be one of the Founders. He meets the Schuyler sisters and marries Eliza, becomes General George Washington's right hand man, and eventually serves as the new nation's first Treasury Secretary under President Washington. I'm leaving out an immense amount of detail in the book, but suffice to say that there's a lot more presented in the most entertaining history lesson you're likely to ever have. However, please note that Lin-Manuel Miranda has taken some dramatic license, so don't use the libretto as a primary source for a term paper unless you do some fact-checking.
Hamilton is incomparable with any other musical, thanks to the genius of Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, and Grammy Award-winning Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics. Inspired by the biography "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow, Miranda found a contemporary way to tell Hamilton's story, employing eclectic musical genres that range from hip-hop, rap, jazz, blues, and R&B, to Broadway. Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Tony Award) makes an outstanding contribution by illustrating the narrative with nearly perpetual movement. Director Thomas Kail (Tony Award) stages the entire show with military precision, and, along with scenic designer David Korins (Tony nomination), lighting designer Howell Binkley (Tony Award), costume designer Paul Tazewell (Tony Award), and sound designer Nevin Steinberg, creates maximum visual and aural engagement for the audience. There is so much stimulation that it is impossible to absorb it all, making a strong case for more than one viewing.
One of the many hallmarks of Miranda's concept is diverse casting, and the tour cast is no exception. It is truly an ensemble show, and the members of the ensemble reflect the diversity that represents America. The principle roles feature African-American and Hispanic actors: Austin Scott (Hamilton), Nicholas Christopher (product of The Boston Conservatory and Walnut Hill School, Natick, as Burr), Paul Oakley Stovall (Washington), Bryson Bruce (Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson), Chaundre Hall-Broomfield (Hercules Mulligan/James Madison), Rubén J. Carbajal (John Laurens/Philip Hamilton), Hannah Cruz (Eliza Hamilton), Sabrina Sloan (Angelica Schuyler), and Isa Briones (Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds).
Scott is a triple threat in the lead and has great chemistry with everyone, but Christopher is the most magnetic presence, commanding attention throughout the show. Stovall is imposing and exhibits maturity and gravitas as the commander in chief, Bruce is flamboyant and plays both of his roles with brio, and Hall-Broomfield and Carbajal also distinguish themselves in dual roles. The women bring a lot of heart and heartache into the story, and Cruz, Sloan, and Briones all have incredible voices. Miranda gave Eliza two of the most powerful songs ("Burn" and the last word, "Finale") and Cruz nails both of them. Peter Matthew Smith provides some comic relief as the nefarious King George, popping in now and then to offer commentary on the status of the relationship between the upstart colonies and Mother England.
Much ink has been devoted to reviews and commentary on Hamilton since the seeds for it were first planted. By now, the story of Miranda introducing a rough version of the opening number "Alexander Hamilton," at a 2009 event at the White House in front of President and Mrs. Obama is legendary. It would be nearly six years before the Off-Broadway production, but, since its transfer to Broadway in July, 2015, it has been a juggernaut with no signs of slowing down. Words like powerful and compelling are rather too tame to capture what Miranda has put on the stage. They may have been sufficient when it dawned during the Obama era. However, in this period of an administration that fails to recognize or acknowledge them, Hamilton reaffirms the values upon which our country was founded. I can think of no better reason to recommend it.
Hamilton, through November 18, 2018, as part of the Lexus Broadway in Boston 2018-2019 Season, at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street, Boston MA. Broadway in Boston and ticketmaster.com are the only official ticketing providers for Hamilton at the Boston Opera House. A number of tickets are released daily for upcoming performances. For availability, please visit the Boston Opera House, BroadwayInBoston.com or call Ticketmaster 1-800-982-2787. Details of the #HAM4HAM Lottery can be found at broadwayinboston.com/HamiltonInformation.
Book, Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow; Scenic Design, David Korins; Costume Design, Paul Tazewell; Lighting Design, Howell Binkley; Sound Design, Nevin Steinberg; Hair and Wig Design, Charles G. LaPointe; Arrangements, Alex Lacamoire, Lin-Manuel Miranda; Music Coordinators, Michael Keller, Michael Aarons; Music Director, Andre Cerullo; Production Stage Manager, Kimberly Fisk; Music Supervision and Orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire; Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler; Directed by Thomas Kail
Cast: Austin Scott, Hannah Cruz, Nicholas Christopher, Sabrina Sloan, Paul Oakley Stovall, Bryson Bruce, Chaundre Hall-Broomfield, Rubén J. Carbajal, Isa Briones, Peter Matthew Smith, Alexander Ferguson, Andrew Wojtal, Robbie Nicholson, Taylor N. Daniels, Charnette Batey, Dan Belnavis, Natalie Kaye Clater, Jennifer Geller, Paige Krumbach, Alex Larson, Krystal Mackie