×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broadway Review: ‘Hamilton’

With:
Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos, Phillipa Soo.

Hamilton” was a sensation in a 299-seat house at the Public Theater, where the blazing inventiveness of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical tribute to one of our illustrious Founding Fathers played right into the downtown vibe. But this innovative show is shaping up to be just as much of a phenomenon uptown, playing in a Broadway house with four times the seating capacity, and to a more traditional but no less enthusiastic audience.  That universal appeal to crossover audiences is one unmistakable sign of a groundbreaking show.

Whatever technical adjustments might have been necessary to move the production into a larger space are not evident from an audience’s perspective. The wonderful dancing chorus seems to have more room to perform its leaps and bounds, and the individual characters have always been larger than life in the first place. In fact, Leslie Odom Jr. seems even more invested in the difficult character of Aaron Burr, really sinking his teeth into the frustration and yearning that this troubled character reveals in “The Room Where It Happens.” And Christopher Jackson’s manly General Washington is even more moving when he acknowledges, in “One Last Time,” that his days as the nation’s leader are indeed over.

The only new actor in the cast is Jonathan Groff, who assumed the regal role of King George when Brian D’Arcy James decamped to play the lead in “Something Rotten!”  Although his predecessor can still out-sneer his replacement, Groff comes by his own laughs honestly by allowing himself to become swallowed up in the monarch’s elaborate robes and oversized crown.

Like any true landmark, “Hamilton” stands up to repeated viewings. After six months, the show’s initial impact hasn’t dulled a bit; in fact, the qualities that made it so extraordinary the first time around are all the more striking. Miranda’s fundamental insight — that Alexander Hamilton, like other early American patriots, landed on these foreign shores like any other homeless, clueless immigrant in search of a new life — seems all the more electrifying on reflection.

As Lafayette, that heroic Frenchman, reminds Hamilton, they are cut from the same rough cloth — “Immigrants! We get the job done!” — not the aristocrats who served in government, but the people who fought the wars and built the country. With actors of color playing most of the roles in this show, those past truths reassert themselves by surviving into the present day.

The other thrilling contribution that “Hamilton” has made to the American musical is the amazing score — and what it says about the future of the Broadway musical. Contrary to the shorthand use of “hip-hop musical,” that isn’t quite accurate; the score is far more revolutionary than that. The show does open with a great hip-hop number — a five-minute, fact-packed musical narrative that sums up the first 100 pages or so of Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton and tells you all you need to know about the man, his history and his future. That rapper style, with its interlocking interior rhymes and pounding cadences, perfectly captures Hamilton’s feverish intelligence and hyperarticulate manner.

But instead of keeping to a single uniform musical style (hip-hop or otherwise), as traditional shows often have, Miranda continues to draw from all available styles and musical sources, from nursery lullaby to rock ‘n’ roll and operetta, in order to capture the soul of a character and the spirit of the moment. If this sort of thing catches on, the old, reliable Broadway showtune may be a thing of the past.

hamilton-review-broadway

Broadway Review: 'Hamilton'

Richard Rodgers Theater; 1321 seats; $167 top. Opened Aug. 6, 2015. Reviewed Aug. 5. Running time: 2 HOURS, 45 MIN.

Production: A Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, and Public Theater presentation of the Public Theater production of a musical in two acts, with book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow.

Creative: Directed by Thomas Kail. Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. Music direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire. Sets, David Korins; costumes, Paul Tazewell; lighting, Howell Binkley; sound, Nevin Steinberg; hair & wigs, Charles G. LaPointe; arrangements, Alex Lacamoire and Lin-Manuel Miranda; production stage manager, J. Philip Bassett.

Cast: Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos, Phillipa Soo.

More Legit

  • To Kill a Mockingbird review

    Broadway Review: 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

    Against all odds, writer Aaron Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher have succeeded in crafting a stage-worthy adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic American novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The ever-likable Daniels, whose casting was genius, gives a strong and searching performance as Atticus Finch, the small-town Southern lawyer who epitomizes the ideal human qualities of goodness, [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    Isabelle Huppert, Chris Noth to Appear on Stage in 'The Mother'

    Isabelle Huppert will appear opposite Chris Noth in the Atlantic Theater Company’s production of “The Mother.” It marks the U.S. premiere of the show. “The Mother” was written by French playwright Florian Zeller and translated by Christopher Hampton. Huppert, an icon of European film, was Oscar-nominated for “Elle” and appears in the upcoming Focus Features [...]

  • Could Anyone Follow ‘Springsteen on Broadway’?

    Could Anyone Follow 'Springsteen on Broadway'? Here Are Five Things They'd Need (Guest Column)

    After 235-odd shows, with grosses in excess of $100 million, a Special Tony Award and a hotly anticipated Netflix special debuting Sunday, “Springsteen on Broadway” is an unprecedented Broadway blockbuster. As with any success in entertainment, the rush to replicate The Boss’ one-man show reportedly is under way, with a consortium led by Live Nation, CAA [...]

  • Clueless review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical

    How does a musical stage adaptation of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film comedy of oblivious privileged teens, “Clueless,” play in the era of female empowerment and millennial engagement? True, the principal skills of lead teen Cher Horowitz are the superficial ones of mall shopping and makeovers. But her sweet spirit and independence, plus some added P.C. relevance, [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

  • Daniel Radcliffe

    Listen: How Broadway Made Daniel Radcliffe a Better Actor

    Acting onstage has been a regular part of Daniel Radcliffe’s career for more than a decade — and the “Harry Potter” star says there’s a good reason for that: It’s made him better. “It gives me a lot of confidence as an actor, which is not always something that I’ve felt,” Radcliffe said on the [...]

  • The Jungle review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Jungle'

    With the rumbling of semis careening by and the sound of Middle Eastern music in the distance, “The Jungle” aims to vividly immerse audiences into the world of the real-life migrant and refugee camp of the same name. By telling the story of the Jungle’s creation in Calais, France, in 2015, and its eventual destruction [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content