It doesn’t seem possible but it’s been almost five years since Hamilton last stopped in the Twin Cities on what one can only assume is a never ending North American tour. That run was six weeks, this time it’s five, but given that it has basically sold out it’s run, it could have been six again and I don’t think there would have been a empty seat in that final week. I suspect it will be back in 2027 for a four week engagement. Well, I’ll be ready. This is a show that gets better every time I see it. Disney+ released the filmed version featuring the original Broadway Cast during year one of the Pandemic when theaters were closed. That gave everyone a chance to experience this cultural phenomenon for themselves. I’m sure it boosted Disney+ subscriptions, but theater owners were probably concerned about what it might do to the unquenchable thirst theatergoers seemed to have for the show. I’d guess the verdict is in and it didn’t hurt it one bit. I think I know why, as great as that filmed version is, there’s something magical about being in the room where it happens. I treasure my blu-ray of Rent Filmed Live on Broadway, but I’m still going to go see every live production I can. People, myself included, feel the same way about Hamilton. This is that once in a generation show for kids that Rent was for me. Five years on from my first attendance, countless times listening to the cast album and a couple of times watching the film, I’m still excited at the prospect of seeing it again.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone reading a theater review would be unfamiliar with Hamilton. Written, book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda based on the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It tells the story of the founding father and the birth of the United States of America. The twist is that the musical draws much of its style from hip hop and the founding fathers are all played by BIPOC performers. Miranda has described Hamilton as being about “America then, as told by America now.” Frankly, I cannot think of a better way to put it. Hamilton made its debut in February of 2015 Off-Broadway before moving to Broadway in August of that year. At the 2016 Tony Awards it was nominated for a record-breaking 16 Tony’s and won 11 including Best Musical. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2016, something else it has in common with Rent. This is not your average night out to the theater, even after seven years, it still feels fresh and innovative.
What can be interesting when you see a show multiple times over the years is how you sometimes tune into different things with each performance. I was struck by the way I was more engaged with the emotional and relationship aspects of Hamilton this time than the historical. Maybe it’s having the historical side well under my belt now, allowed me to open up to the nuances of the personal side of Hamilton. Or perhaps it was the performers, a different cast brings a different performance to each role. While the story, the songs, the costumes, the set, etc. etc. remain the same, all of those subtle differences that actors bring to a show can have a profound impact on how we experience the show. I will say that this experience seeing Hamilton was significantly better than my first, which was good. First of all, I’m more familiar with the material. A fact sheet provided by the Hennepin Theatre Trust informs me that Hamilton consists of over 20,000 words averaging about 144 words per minute. With lyrics and dialogue being whipped out at such a rate it’s easy to miss things, familiarity means not having to rely on catching every single word. That said, my first experience in 2018 contained several performances which were practically unintelligible. I knew the lyrics so I filled in the blanks, but some in my party were not familiar and left feeling lost. I don’t think that would be the case this time around. Everyone is understandable, there are still the odd words you’ll miss, but it’s related more to your ability to process information at the speed it’s being delivered than annunciation.
This is an excellent cast short of having Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Jonathan Groff. I don’t think you could do better. Edred Utomi is very strong as Hamilton, particularly effective towards the end when he is grieving the loss of his son. Alysha Deslorieux is wonderful as Eliza, my wife commented that her singing voice calmed her, which is perfectly fitting for the character that is, that for Hamilton, a calming force to his frantic energy. Josh Tower is Aaron Burr, while he’ll always be the villain of the piece, Tower does a nice job of adding humanity to the character. We understand his motivation which I think is Miranda’s intention, and why we get a song like “Dear Theodosia” to show Burr’s fatherly instincts and humanize him. Others that were standouts include David Park as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson who really delivers great reactions, bringing out some nice moments of humor. Speaking of nailing the humor, no one does it better than Bryson Bruce as King George. The role is all comic relief to be sure, but Bruce’s performance seemed to mine more laughs than I recall experiencing before.
This is the Premiere show on Broadway and on the touring circuit. The sets, costumes, lighting, orchestra, Stage Managers, Truck Drivers are all going to be the best and they are. It’s a gorgeous looking set by David Korins featuring a turntable which is used to great effect throughout the performance including some stunning choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. The set itself seems massive and is beautifully lit by the Lighting Designer, Howell Binkley. The cast looks like a million bucks in the costumes designed by Paul Tazewell. Particularly striking are the costumes worn by Thomas Jefferson and King George, but a close second are the various costumes worn by the ensemble players which have a regal but sexy quality to them.
Hamilton runs through May 6th at the Orpheum theatre in downtown Minneapolis for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://hennepintheatretrust.org/ I’ll warn you most of what remains are verified resale tickets. The prices are rather high on most of those but I would urge you not to look elsewhere for tickets, as you will likely pay even more and may or may not actually get valid tickets. Luckily there is another way to get tickets through the Hamilton lottery. There are 40 tickets for every performance reserved for the lottery, see below for information on how to register for your chance at those tickets.
The lottery will first open at 10 a.m. Fridays, and will close at 12 p.m. Thursday, for tickets
to performances the next week. Subsequent digital lotteries will begin on each Friday and close the following
Thursday for the upcoming week’s performances.
HOW TO ENTER:
- Use the official app for HAMILTON, now available for all iOS and Android devices in the Apple App
Store and the Google Play Store (http://hamiltonmusical.com/app).
- The lottery will open at 10 a.m. every Friday and will close for entry at 12 p.m. the next Thursday prior to
the following week’s performances.
- Winner and non-winner notifications will be sent between 1 and 4 p.m. every Thursday for the
upcoming week’s performances via email and mobile push notification. Winners will have two hours to
claim and pay for their ticket(s).
- No purchase or payment necessary to enter or participate.
- Each winning entrant may purchase up to two (2) tickets.
- Only one entry per person. Repeat entries and disposable email addresses will be discarded.
- Lottery tickets may be picked up at will call beginning 2 hours prior to the performance with a valid
- Lottery tickets void if resold.
- All times listed are in the local time zone
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I am also a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers (TCTB), you can read roundups of shows by my colleagues and I on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers. Follow that group, It’s a great way to see reviews for shows I don’t get to or to get another blogger’s take on one I did. We have some exciting things in the works for 2023 for the TCTB and our readers. Follow us to be the first to know about those happenings like our recent Prom Date with the TCTB that we held on March 4th. If you didn’t make it to that event there’s still time to see the The Prom at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) thru June 10th . You can view the TCTB Talk Back that we held on March 4th with the CDT Artistic Director and three of the stars of The Prom here https://bit.ly/promtalkback
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