Hamilton review: A show that lives up to its hype

Hamilton review: A show that lives up to its hype
Chris De'Sean Lee, José Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes Photo: Joan Marcus.
My name is Alexander Hamilton
And there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait...

Alexander Hamilton, perhaps the least known of our country's founding fathers*--known by many only as the dude on the ten dollar bill, who died over 200 years ago--has been causing near hysteria across the country since the musical, Hamilton, that tells his story opened in New York.

You could say, he's risen from the dead, thanks to the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda whose vision has created a completely new form of musical theater that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap and R&B--while featuring actors of color and ethnicity.

Case in point, although our Founding Fathers were all white guys, in Hamilton, only one of the main characters, Alexander Gemignani who plays King George, is a white male.

The story, in a nutshell, is succinctly summed up at the beginning of the play by Aaron Burr through Miranda's brilliant hip hop lyrics:

“How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?"

 Joshua Henry as Arron Burr. Photo: Joan Marcus

Joshua Henry as Arron Burr. Photo: Joan Marcus

The lively rap continues throughout the evening telling the story of an immigrant from the West Indies who becomes George Washington's right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and following the war becomes the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.

Hamilton is the story of America--our hopes, dreams, ambitions, passions, jealousies--even our missteps.

Our beginnings were not so different from today with politics as usual--and even sex scandals.

It is a big story told in a big way. The dialogue, much of which is told in hip hop, is witty and efficient.

The fast-paced musical which runs 2 hours and 45 minutes, if told at normal speaking pace would run 5 to 6 hours.

The Chicago production, the first one outside of New York, has been here in previews since September with the official opening occurring last Wednesday night at PrivateBank Theatre (18 W. Monroe).

The Chicago Hamilton is a full-blown production that likely will be here for years. The show features top notch actors, staging, costuming, choreography and music.

Hamilton Chicago

Hamilton Chicago

Principle roles are Miguel Cervantes as Alexander Hamilton; Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr; Jonathan Kirkland as George Washington; Karen Olivo as Angelica Schuyler; Alexander Gemignani as King George III; Ari Afsar as Eliza Hamilton and Chris Lee as Marquis De Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson.

Hamilton also features Sam Aberman, José Amor, Amber Ardolino, Remmie Bourgeois, Chloë Campbell, Yossi Chaikin, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, John Michael Fiumara, Jean Godsend Floradin, Aaron Gordon, Jin Ha, Holly James, Malik Shabazz Kitchen, Colby Lewis, Dashí Mitchell, Justice Moore, Joseph Morales, Eliza Ohman, Samantha Pollino, Antuan Magic Raimone, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Gabriella Sorrentino and Aubin Wise.

The book, music and lyrics are by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire.

Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

Hamilton features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

HAMILTON

When: Through Sept. 17, 2017

Where: The PrivateBank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe

Tickets: $65 - $180 for regular performances with select number of premium seats available for all performances and some increased pricing during the holidays. Tickets are available online or at the box office at the PrivateBank Theatre.

Digital lottery:  forty-four day-of-show tickets which will be sold in a digital lottery for every performance for $10 each.

More info: (800) 775-2000

Running time: 2 hours and 45 minutes with one intermission

Rating: 4 out of 4 stars

*About Our Founding Fathers

According to Historian Richard B. Morris the following seven figures were the key Founding Fathers: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington

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Filed under: Theater in Chicago

Tags: Hamilton

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