Mike Woody reviews 'Hamilton', at the Schuster Center through February 6.
My ears are tired, but my heart is inspired. Lyrics are spoken at such a rapid pace, U.S History getting thrown in our face. If only my government class had such style, my grades wouldn’t have been so vile. When Hamilton is put to the test, it’s among the very best.
(Fun fact: Hamilton holds the record for most words in a musical with a total of 20, 520. It averages 144 words per minute)
For the last few years there’s been a lot of hype about Hamilton, and similar to Wordle, I didn’t buy into it all. Unlike anyone in D.C though, I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. Due to my preference of musicals with dialogue mixed in between the songs, I shouldn’t like Hamilton. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it. To not appreciate the brilliance of the show would be criminal, as its exceptionally done. I highly admire Lin-Manuel Miranda for writing such a masterpiece. From beginning to end, for nearly three hours with barely any silence, every word flows in perfect rhythm. That’s not easy to do, as I sometimes struggle for two sentences to go together seamlessly. Plus it covers content from hundreds of years ago and translates into rap, hip hop, R&B and other modern music genres.
It’s been proven that I can’t match, Miranda’s rhythmic prose, however, another style used throughout the show is numbering things 1 to 10. So in no particular order, here’s 10 reasons why Hamilton should not be missed.
1. The Spinning Stage: Will get to Hamilton himself, wait for it…The lone solitary set is simple, yet sublime. At center stage is a circle that spins at opportune times to provide an assortment of angles. The cast glides across its surface with stunning ease.
2. The Man: The title figure, Alexander Hamilton is portrayed by the amazing Pierre Jean Gonzalez. The role is a heavy load to bear, and Gonzalez sails smoothly through it. His performance is top notch.
3. Compelling Villain: Despite giving away the ending in the opening song (Spoiler alert), as Aaron (I keep wanting to call him Raymond) Burr, Jared Dixon makes a good bad guy. Dixon also has a stellar voice and a strong stage presence. The tension is often high when Burr and Jackson are together, so you want to be in the room when it happens.
4. Scene Stealer: Marcus John excels the roles of both Marquis de Lafayette (Act One) and Thomas Jefferson (Act Two). His high energy, vibrant expressions, and extreme physicality are all magnetizing. Your attention is drawn to him, whenever he’s on stage. Special mention to his sidekick (Desmond Sean Ellington) as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison. The duo goes together like democrats and republicans, only much better.
5. There are one, two, three of them. All are high in intensity and drama. Highlighted by the previously mentioned spinning stage. The duels are exemplary scenes.
6. Comic Relief: While there are a few other brief moments of levity, most of the laughs come from fan favorite King George played by Neil Haskell. His songs for some reason, took me back to the eighties and pop rock. His appearances are delightful.
7. Rap Battles: Other standout scenes are the cabinet meetings between Hamilton and Jefferson. They face off in a battle of insults, while each stating their case. It makes current day politics seem really lame and civil.
8. Sisters: Eliza Hamilton (Stephanie Jae Park) is…gasp…stunning with a beautiful voice. Her sister is Angelica Schuyler (Ta’rea Campbell) a fierce figure with a soulful voice. When she speaks/sings, your attention is drawn in, and Campbell is well worth listening to.
9. Cast of Stars: In addition to those already mentioned the entire cast of Hamilton is superb. They put in a lot of effort. All their movements are in precision. Marcus Choi shines as George Washington and Meecah sizzles as a forbidden fruit.
10. Interest in History: The presentation has surely gotten some people further interested in History. History is made much more interesting when put into rap.
Hamilton is a show not to be missed. It continues at the Schuster Center through February 6.