At “Hamilton’s” opening night in Chicago ( Oct. 19, 2016), its nearly three hours of rhythmic story-telling and exceptional choreography made it quite clear why lyricist, composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s show about a Founding Father won several Tony Awards including Best Musical.
Right, often overlooked, brilliant immigrant Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father. So, there should also be an Educational Hook Award added to the list.
Youngsters and many adults are eager to see this show about how one man’s life intertwines with the country’s move from revolution, states’ rights and the Federalist Papers to the Constitution, the placement of the seat of governance and financial stability. Though probably they merely heard it is an exceptional musical and tickets are hard to get.
Inspired by Ron Chernow’s best selling “Alexander Hamilton,” a more than 700 page biography, Miranda figured out how to make the long, intricate tale fascinating and palatable through an adroit mix of musical rhythms that ranged from hip hop and jazz to blues and pop.
The show is populated by the people you would expect such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and some you might have forgotten from a history course such as Hercules Mulligan.
But the action really revolves around what Hamilton wants to accomplish, Burr’s jealousy of Hamilton and the reverberating thoughts of “who will tell my story” and “have I done enough.”
Directed by Thomas Kail who took on the New York production, the Chicago “Hamilton” uses some of the actors from previous Miranda productions.
Miguel Cervantes who played Hamilton in some of the Broadway performances does a fine job as Alexander Hamilton. Two-time Tony nominee Joshua Henry from In the Heights is a stand-out as Aaron Burr. Another In the Heights performer, Tony Award-winner Karen Olivo, does a strong Angelica Schuyler.
Comic relief is provided by a wonderfully silly King George III played by Alex Gemignani who sings “You’ll be Back.”
As a really hot-ticket musical, Hamilton has an open-ended run in Chicago which is good news for people who haven’t seen it yet. But it is just as good to go back to listen to the lyrics again to pick up all that Miranda is telling us about the politics and struggles when the colonies became the United States of America.
Details: “Hamilton” with books, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is at the Private Bank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago, IL. For tickets and other information visit Broadway In Chicago.