Oscar E Moore

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HAMILTON – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s crash course in history is a hip-hop hit

March 16th, 2015 by Oscar E Moore

But will it play in Peoria?  HAMILTON is sold out through May 3rd in an intimate space at The Public Theatre and is moving to Broadway’s much larger Richard Rodgers Theatre in July after some minor nips and tucks – just in time to celebrate July 4th – Independence Day.  The theatre was once home to IN THE HEIGHTS – another Miranda hip hop musical.

HAMILTON deals with the American Revolution as well as many other themes circling around its main character Alexander Hamilton played by Lin-Manuel Miranda the mastermind behind the entire production.

Inspired by the hefty tome Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow – Mr. Miranda has written the music – a blend of hip-hop R&B, ballads, and a great big fat catchy showstopper for mad King George III (a droll and dead pan Jonathan Groff) and lyrics that are ingenious and seemingly endless as the show is sung through over an almost three hour period.  Oh and yes he is co-arranger.

We are bombarded with words.  Words that are cleverly rhymed, amusing and character driven.  Words that tumble out of mouths at record speed.  It is indeed fortunate that the excellent sound design by Nevin Steinberg allows us not to miss one of them.

HAMILTON is a big show – in every sense of the word.   There’s enough rich material for three musicals that necessitates the multi-racial cast of two dozen.  There is the Hamilton/Burr (Leslie Odom, Jr.) connection.  The American Revolution, General George Washington (Christopher Jackson) Lafayette (Daveed Diggs who does double duty as Jefferson) Federalist Papers and Secretary of the Treasury connection.

And the most compelling connection of all is that of his relationship with the Schuyler sisters:  the eldest Angelica (the ravishing and extraordinary Renee Elise Goldsberry) in love with Hamilton, Eliza (the beguiling and divine Phillipa Soo who becomes his wife and Peggy (Jasmine Cephas Jones) who acts as backup for them until she gets to strut her stuff as the prostitute Maria Reynolds who beds Hamilton resulting in the sex scandal that brings him disgrace.  And there is a lot more until the final pistol duel.

Like those pesky Prime Ministers over at THE AUDIENCE history keeps getting in the way.

After two and a half hours you are just waiting for it to happen as the muscles in your rear knowing all too well that it going to happen urge it to happen sooner.

The all-purpose double turntable set (David Korins) with its ropes and scaffolds and ladders suits the action and fluid non-stop direction of Thomas Kail to a tee.  The original choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler gives the cast a physical workout that is a wonder to behold.

Costumes by Paul Tazewell bring the past full speed up to the present and nothing can best King George in the royal raiment department.

Mr. Miranda has taken on a herculean task in bringing us this production and there are many moments of true brilliance – genius in fact.  If only that fateful shot would come sooner.



Photos:  Joan Marcus

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