Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Hamilton
National Tour
Review by David Ritchey

Also see Mark's review of Oklahoma!


Shoba Narayan and Joseph Morales
Photo by Joan Marcus
America's founding fathers step out of the shadows, out of the history books, and onto the stage in Hamilton. It was Alexander Hamilton who seemed to bring many of the founding fathers together to discuss their dream of a new country and a new government with new rules, laws, and hopes for everyone. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for Hamilton, was inspired by Ron Chernow's biographical book "Alexander Hamilton." The script is sung-through, and the hip-hop, rap, blues, soul, R&B, and some show music give Hamilton variety and energy.

The character list for Hamilton reads like a history of the founding of this country. Hamilton worked for George Washington, campaigned for Thomas Jefferson for president, and was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr.

Hamilton runs about three hours with a 15-minute intermission. The era covered is the period Alexander Hamilton lived, 1755 or 1757 to 1804. An immigrant from the West Indies, Hamilton came to the colonies and became George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was this nation's first Secretary of the Treasury. He was considered to be one of this nation's founding fathers. He wrote most of the Federalist Papers and established the system of currency used in this country.

Alexander Hamilton (Joseph Morales) grew out of being a chatterbox who had to be slowed down in his speech. Morales slows down his speech for the more romantic scenes with Shoba Narayan, who plays Alexander's wife Eliza. Eliza makes every effort to keep her husband happy and content—however, that is difficult when married to a man who has many things to accomplish.

King George (Jon Patrick Walker) is developed as comic relief. He explains the British point of view to the audience, with humor.

Director Thomas Kail has done a superb job with the huge cast, the orchestra, dance, and a duel. Kail keeps the characters and music in harmony with the plot.

The touring set was designed by David Korins, who also designed the Broadway set. It fills the stage and seems to be made of raw wood with nothing painted or designed with colors. The multi-level set dominates the stage and towers over the cast. The tables and chairs, the only furniture on the stage, seem to be made of unfinished wood. The costumes by Paul Tazewell give the stage color. The women wear plain dresses or gowns in pastels, providing some bright colors on the stage. Some men wear military uniforms and some wear solid-colored outfits in the style of the uniforms.

Alex Lacamoire (music supervision and orchestration) helps dominate the sound on the stage with strong orchestration. The 12-piece orchestra never over-powers the singers. What the audience hears is exactly what the audience should hear. The rich variety of music helps keep the audience entertained. Listening to the original cast recording ahead of time may make the experience more meaningful.

Andy Blankenbuehler (choreographer) based many of the dances on dance styles from the eighteenth century.

A trip to the Keybank State Theater to see Hamilton will require planning. I've seldom seen a show that demands so much planning from the audience. However, this show may be worth your personal investment of time and money. This is an expensive show. But seldom does such an expansive production come our way.

Hamilton, through August 26, 2018, in the Key Bank State Theatre, Playhouse Square, 1519 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland OH. For ticket information, including $10 rush tickets, visit http://www.playhousesquare.org. on the tour, visit hamiltonmusical.com/us-tour.


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