Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor
When one of the young, eager revolutionaries in Hamilton screams, “History is happening in Manhattan” it not only holds true for the American revolutionaries on stage, but also the sold out audience in the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City. Hamilton is leading a new revolution on Broadway and it’s all thanks to the amazing cast and the leading man and visionary behind this masterpiece, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Hamilton originally opened off-Broadway at the Public Theater on January 20, 2015 and received killer ratings all around. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new, hip-hop musical took the entire world by storm as people from far and wide flocked to see this off-Broadway run. From Paul McCartney, to First Lady Michelle Obama to Jimmy Fallon, everyone wanted a piece of Hamilton. Soon after the predetermined closing date in May 2015, Hamilton made the big announcement that it would be moving to the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. The Richard Rodgers Theatre previously housed Miranda’s Tony Award Winning Musical, In the Heights in 2008.
Featuring a book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and directed by Thomas Kail, Hamilton is inspired by the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. This intelligent and amazing new musical follows the young immigrant, Alexander Hamilton, who forever changed America. From bastard orphan to Washington’s right hand man to rebel war hero to loving husband caught in America’s first renowned sex scandal to Treasury head, Hamilton has it all. Alexander Hamilton made an already distrusting, new world believe in him and the American economy. Familiar historical characters make appearance in this inspiring, imaginative and incredible new musical.
There are several key players in Hamilton, but none of them shine a candle to the work Lin-Manuel Miranda has put into this historic new musical. Known for penning and starring in the Tony Award winning musical In the Heights, Miranda has done it again with Hamilton. He not only stars as Alexander Hamilton, but he also created the book, music and lyrics that create the world of Hamilton. Miranda shines in a role that perfectly suits his charismatic, determination. From the moment he graces the Richard Rodgers stage, the audience is eating out of the palm of his hand. The first musical number aptly titled “Alexander Hamilton” starts things off on a high note and the musical only climbs from there. Miranda dazzles in the musical number “My Shot,” which gets reprised throughout Hamilton. His starring role as Alexander Hamilton is only the first layer of this work of art.
Hamilton will come to be known for the incredibly inventive music and storytelling that Lin-Manuel Miranda puts forth. Every musical number is done in a hip-hop meets musical theatre type way and it’s a heavenly combination. From the moment the bass drops and audience members get a taste of the music, it’s all uphill from there. The words flow effortlessly from every actor’s mouth as they enthusiastically tell the story of one of the most underrated players in American history. Miranda’s lyrics coupled with the hip-hop music makes Hamilton an amazing new musical. If Hamilton is any indication for the direction musical theatre is headed then sign us up. Lin-Manuel Miranda maybe the captain of Hamilton, however his team of Broadway’s finest adds to the star-power of Hamilton.
Leslie Odom Jr. triumphs in his Tony Award worthy portrayal of Aaron Burr. He may appear as the villain in this story, however he’s a villain the audience hates to love. Odom triumphs in a role that appears to have been tailor made for him as he acts as the narrator for Hamilton. Mainly known for his work in NBC’s Smash, Odom leaves his mark on Broadway in this role and further positions himself amongst the Broadway elite. His voice shines in the musical number “The Room Where It Happens” as he shows off his killer vocal range and unbelievable dance moves. Step aside Javert, Aaron Burr is the new villain in town and he’s here to stay!
Hamilton would be nothing without the two leading women that bring down the house every night. Renée Elise Goldsberry reprises her 2015 Drama Desk Award winning role of Angelica Schuyler, the oldest of the Schuyler Sisters. Goldsberry shakes the rafters of the Richard Rodgers Theatre as she portrays a woman caught between her love of a man and the love and bond of her sisters. Goldsberry’s shining moment comes during the Act one number “Satisfied” where she not only belts, but also raps her face off. She’s a leading lady for the ages and it’s refreshing to see a female character that portrays strength and independence.
Phillipa Soo also shines in Hamilton as Eliza Schuyler, the middle Schuyler sister who steals the heart of Alexander Hamilton. Soo triumphs in a role that seems to have been written specifically for her. She leaves everything on the stage night after night as she portrays an independent woman who tries desperately to stand alongside her husband. Soo’s biggest musical number comes during Act Two when she belts the 11 o’clock number “Burn.” Her voice shines in this number that simple rides on her pure talent. The Schuyler Sisters leave their mark on Hamilton and it’s all thanks to Goldsberry and Soo.
In his first appearance on Broadway since Spring Awakening, Jonathan Groff leaves his comedic mark in Hamilton. Groff stars as King George and steals the show every time he appears on stage. Groff graces the Richard Rodgers stage for all of six minutes combined during the course of Hamilton, however his songs and moments are arguably the most memorable. Groff dusts off his comedic timing and commands the stage as a humorous version of King George.
The other key players in Hamilton are Christopher Jackson as George Washington and Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson. Jackson commands the stage as Washington as he puts his own spin on America’s first President. Diggs steals the show as Lafayette and later Thomas Jefferson as he struts around the stage rapping his head off. Both Jackson and Diggs add an extra layer to Hamilton that is extremely necessary.
The stationary scenic design by David Korins perfectly suits Hamilton. He plays into the idea that this musical fully rides on the music and does not incorporate any distracting or unnecessary scenic changes. Another important element that brings Hamilton to new and exciting heights is the choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. His beautiful and earth bound choreography add an extra layer to Hamilton and help exemplify the hip-hop aspects that make Hamilton so iconic. Thomas Kail triumphs as the director of Hamilton and further continues the amazing relationship between himself and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Hamilton is taking Broadway and the entire musical theatre community by storm. Lin-Manuel Miranda has done it again with this amazing masterpiece that brings American history to a new generation in an extremely inventive and creative way. The 2016 Tony Award season should watch out because Hamilton is a large force to be reckoned with.
Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor