History is made, in more ways than one, in “Hamilton,” the consistently thrilling, often groundbreaking new musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda that has landed at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre after an award-winning run earlier this year at the Public Theater. It takes as its unlikely subject the life of the first Secretary of the Treasury, one Alexander Hamilton (played with true charisma by Miranda), a man as concerned with overcoming his past, showing off his ego and ensuring his legacy as he is with protecting his family and bettering the newborn country. In doing so, the show creates a swirling intellectual and emotional portrait of one individual that matches, if not bests, any we’ve previously seen on stage.
To accomplish this rare feat, Miranda is aided by the seamless direction of Thomas Kail, the extraordinary, almost-constant choreography of Andy Blakenbuehler (performed by a breathtakingly athletic ensemble), and the stirring orchestrations of Alex Lacamoire, who finds the precisely right sounds for Miranda’s wonderfully wide musical vocabulary. The score starts out, slightly disconcertingly to some, with straight-out rap (“Alexander Hamilton”) and careens through R&B/hip-hop (the unforgettable “The Room Where It Happens”), romantic ballads (“Helpless”), and even a delicious bit of pseudo-Brit pop (the witty “You’ll Be Back,” sung with delectable tongue in cheek by Jonathan Groff as an exasperated King George III), among other styles. Its inventiveness is practically unparalleled.
Miranda’s book is a marvel, as well, as it tells us in surprisingly accessible terms not only of Hamilton’s history, but the thoughts and workings of his many compatriots including George Washington (a stalwart Christopher Jackson), Thomas Jefferson (played in grand style by the amazing Daveed Diggs), James Madison (a hilariously reticent Okieriete Onadowan), and most notably, lifelong frenemy Aaron Burr, brought blazingly to full-bodied life by the remarkable Leslie Odom, Jr. Had these guys been around to teach me American history in seventh grade, this story might not be so unfamiliar.
While Hamilton’s personal life gets somewhat shorter shrift, we still become thoroughly involved in his complex marriage to wealthy Eliza Schuyler (the glorious Phillipa Soo), even though Alexander’s true soulmate appears to be Eliza’s smarter, older sister Angelica (the absolutely sublime Renee Elise Goldsberry, who brings down the house with her big number “Satisfied”). We only see a little of Hamilton’s relationship with his son Philip (the touching Anthony Ramos), but every moment of it rings completely true.
The musical, which runs just under three hours, sags here and there, although it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly should be cut. And ultimately, as Miranda may have decided, when a show is so not broken like “Hamilton,” why fix it?
By Brian Scott Lipton
Visit the Site
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Javier Muñoz, Leslie Odom Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos, Phillipa Soo, Carleigh Bettiol, Andrew Chappelle, Ariana DeBose, Alysha Deslorieux, Sydney James Harcourt, Neil Haskell, Sasha Hutchings, Thayne Jasperson, Stephanie Klemons, Morgan Marcell, Emmy Raver-Lampan, Jon Rua, Austin Smith, Seth Stewart, Betsy Struxness, Ephraim Sykes, Voltaire Wade-Greene
Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 7/13/2015
Richard Rodgers Theatre
226 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036