Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Chicago

National Tour
Review by Karen Topham

Also see Karen's recent reviews of Revolution, Baked! The Musical, and Birthday Candles and Christine's recent review of The Duchess of Malfi and

The Cast
Photo by Joan Marcus
I've reviewed Hamilton before, and my opinion of the show has not changed. If you count Disney+, I've seen it about seven times now and it is always remarkable; in fact, it is one of the most engaging, entertaining, and powerful shows I've ever seen. I'll never turn down a chance to see it once again. One thing about Hamilton: Lin-Manuel Miranda's innovative show is pretty much foolproof. I don't think it is even possible to ruin it.

That said, let's be clear that this company serves up a Hamilton that is every bit as compelling as any resident company Chicago has seen and stands up to the multiple Tony-winning original cast. Pierre Jean Gonzalez' take on Alexander Hamilton is probably the most controlled version I've seen, allowing the audience to focus on the ways in which striving for success, achievement, and loss affect the "ten-dollar Founding Father without a father." Gonzalez' mellifluous singing voice is at times a bit less demonstrative than I'm used to in the role, but it makes songs like "It's Quiet Uptown"–one of my personal favorites–even sadder and more emotional than before.

Deon'Te Goodman is equally remarkable as Aaron Burr (sir), Hamilton's longtime antagonist but a character who is afforded many beautiful songs to help us get to know him. (One of the wonderful things about this show is the way it humanizes Burr through songs like "Dear Theodosia" and "Wait For It," while making his growing jealousy of Hamilton clearer and clearer–and more tragic.)

As Eliza Hamilton, Nikisha Williams earns the unbridled, girlish joy in "Helpless" and the pain we can feel in "Burn" as well as the redemptive moments that follow. She is well matched with Lencia Kebede as her sister Angelica Schuyler; both have excellent, emotional singing voices, and the wonderful "Satisfied" shows off both Kebede's talents and the brilliance of the original staging.

Other stand-out performances (among a cast without a flaw anywhere) are Marcus Choi as a very different, more human George Washington than we've seen before, Jared Howelton as the manic statesman/clown that is creator Lin-Manuel Miranda's take on Thomas Jefferson, Jen Sese as the most realized Peggy Schuyler I've seen (the character is usually a throwaway) and a Maria Reynolds who makes it easy to see why Hamilton couldn't "say no to this," and Neil Haskell as the second-most flamboyant character in the show (after Jefferson), King George.

Three of my seven viewings of the show have been in person, and since the newest traveling company, now at the Nederlander Theatre, leaves the show's original blocking unchanged, I've had the opportunity by now to watch them from several different vantage points. Though the orchestra is wonderful for the proximity to the actors, my favorite has been the front of the first balcony at CIBC Theatre, where I was able to admire the uncannily artistic lighting design by Howell Binkley, one of the many members of the original cast and crew who received Tonys. I can't say if this view is replicated at the Nederlander, but if it is then it's well worth seeing: the swirling lights on the floor are impossible to see from the orchestra.

There has never been another show like Hamilton. If you have not seen it, don't throw away your shot. If future productions tinker with the original staging, it will undoubtedly still be great, but it won't be the same: take this opportunity to see director Thomas Kail's original staging and Andy Blankenbuehler's brilliant, innovative choreography. This show blows all others away.

Hamilton, presented by Broadway in Chicago, runs through December 30, 2023, at the Nederlander Theatre, 24 2. Randolph St., Chicago IL. For tickets and information, please visit For more information on the tour, visit