Review: 'Hamilton' proves worth the wait
“Hamilton” is exhausting – in a good way.
A national tour of the historical musical created by superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda has taken up residence at the Benedum Center downtown through Jan. 27.
The celebrated show, which runs two hours, 45 minutes with one intermission, is nonstop action with ambitious choreography and a fast-pace musical score that takes audiences’ breath away.
Sold-out crowds in “Hamilton’s” first two performances in Pittsburgh saw a show that’s smart, funny and just as timely today – with important lessons to be learned – as when Miranda created the music, lyrics and book for “Hamilton” back in 2015.
The musical inspired by a 2004 biography, “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, got its start off-Broadway in February 2015, moving to Broadway in August that year, where it’s still playing to capacity crowds.
“Hamilton” features a script that replaces traditional dialogue with rap and hip hop music with portions of blues, jazz, R&B and Broadway, a stage filled with finely tuned dance numbers and an innovative set with a rotating turntable that strategically moves characters around.
Each of the tour’s cast members adds his or her special touch to the production – from Austin Scott’s and Josh Tower’s commanding performances as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr respectively, to Paul Oakley Stovall’s take-charge time as George Washington and Bryson Bruce’s excellent portrayals of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette.
A royal romp
Sewickley native Peter Matthew Smith’s hilarious scenes as King George consist of three over-the-top songs, “You’ll Be Back,” “What Comes Next” and his last hurrah, “I Know Him,” in which he finally lets loose and really has fun in the monarch’s flashy red robes.
Other popular musical numbers include “The Room Where It Happens,” a romantic duet about Eliza’s and Alexander Hamilton’s courtship titled “Helpless,” an action-packed song, “Yorktown,” and a rap song with an infectious beat, “My Shot.”
The three female roles of the Schuyler sisters – Eliza, Angelica and Peggy – are ably handled by Hannah Cruz, Stephanie Umoh and Isa Briones. Especially moving is Cruz’s rendition of “Burn,” when she learns her husband has been unfaithful.
Special mention is deserved by a hard-working 11-member ensemble cast that keeps the action and the storytelling moving, often at a frantic pace.
“Hamilton” provides glimpses into our country’s earliest beginnings and gives hope that what goes on in back rooms and behind closed doors isn’t always bad news.
One thing is certain with this musical: The Revolutionary War and presidential elections were never this much fun.
High ticket demand
“Hamilton” performances run through Jan. 27 at the Benedum Center with a four-ticket limit per household. Many performances are sold out or near capacity. Details are at trustarts.org .
For each of the remaining shows, 40 theatergoers can win up to two $10 orchestra seats through a daily lottery. Lotteries are held two days before the performances. Visit hamiltonmusical.com to register.
A signed, interpreted and closed captioned performance will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 27. An Audio Described performance will take place at 2 p.m. Jan. 26.
“Hamilton” is appropriate for ages 10 and up. The show contains some strong language and non-graphic adult situations. Everyone, regardless of age, must have a ticket. No child under age 3 will be admitted.
The U.S. tour of “Hamilton” continues through the end of September with additional cities to be added for the 2019-2020 season.
Don’t miss your shot
For “Hamilton” fans that can’t get enough of the music in the show, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s education department will offer “Hamiltunes! An American Singalong” from 7-9 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Trust Arts Education Center, 807 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh.
Preteens and teens ages 10-17 and their families are invited to sing and rap along to selections from the musical. The event is free and tickets are limited. Preregistration is required.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.