Review: ‘Hamilton’ at the Orpheum Theatre

by Sean Taylor

Ruben J. Carbajal, Michael Luwoye, Jordan Donica, Mathenee Treco, and Hamilton Company, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

If you study the movement of time, you make clocks, and may be called a Horologist. There is a pleasure to this perfection that clock makers know, measuring seconds as if they invented them. Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” is a clock made of people and stories and songs and measures with counter measures and movements with counter movements. And I am nearly certain that any clock makers that see “Hamilton” will lay down their gears for at least a week or two.

They will speak into their palms as they cup and calm their quivering lips, whispering, “How?” Just, “How?”

That is what Hamilton is, the most complex human clock that my mind can fathom, and staring into these polished gears I should be caught dizzy, I shouldn’t be able to keep up. And yet, it’s elaborate syncopation always catches me. This faultless rhythm Miranda employs feels like a trapdoor into our teachable minds. It feels an awful lot like hypnotism.

If you have not already heard, the play follows the life of Alexander Hamilton and the birth of America from 1757 to 1804. Along with Hamilton, it features prominent historical figures including George Washington, King George, Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

Once seated, I found myself surrounded by one child for every two adults. Those children seemed to carry twice as much excitement as their chaperones. After every song their tiny hands held the theater in applause. My throat choked when they screamed louder than anyone else, “Immigrants get it done!” — a popular call to arms that comes towards the middle of the performance.

Is Hamilton a pistol primed to shoot thought bullets into the minds of America’s youth? Here they are screaming for a historical figure with the same unbroken fervor shown to pop stars.

The number of variables being juggled at any one time in this production is breathtaking. Under the guidance of director Thomas Kail, the cast swims smoothly with great confidence upon an often crowded stage,  moving in multiple directions at various speeds.

The strong, deep vocals delivered by Michael Luwoye as Hamilton and Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr give these Founding Fathers the gravitas we imagine in our mind’s eye, befitting our visions of great men, of legends.

Among the most successful elements of Miranda’s hip hop musical are the fully alive asides, aiding and layering nearly every song with an ultra-articulated stream of consciousness, painting the souls of each character. The speed with which they release their minds adds a dimension of urgency to their expressions, and enhances the grandeur of their colonial governing statements.

This unparalleled wit backed with perfected beats, a stage that moves in multiple opposing concentric circles, and synchronized, faultless choreography completely destroys time. Which leads us back to Horology, the study and measurement of time. Hamilton runs for three hours and it feels like life before clocks, like hypnotism, like time travel. It makes of Lin Manuel Miranda a clock maker, and the ever-complex genius of Hamilton redefines seconds, minutes, and hours.

I could have reviewed the multitudes of themes presented, or the great expanding spectrum of emotion and the precise execution of musical brilliance, but I’m sure those reviews have already been published. Go see Hamilton because it rides the cusp of maximum entertainment that our minds are allowed, and that accomplishment is an exaltation upon our existence.

“Hamilton” plays at the Orpheum Theater until August 5. For further information, click here.

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Rating: *****
(For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)

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“Hamilton,” book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the book, “Alexander Hamilton,” by Ron Chernow.

Director: Thomas Kail. Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler. Music Supervision and Orchestration: Alex Lacamoire. Associate Director: Patrick Vassel. Associate Choreographer: Stephanie Klemons. Resident Choreographer: Derek Mitchel. Scenic Design: David Korins. Costume Design: Paul Tazewell. Lighting Design: Howell Binkley. Sound Design: Nevin Steinberg. Hair and Wig Design: Charles G. Lapointe. Music Coordinators: Michael Kellor and Michael Aarons. Music Director: Julian Reeve. Executive Producer: Maggie Brohn. Production Supervisor: J. Philip Bassett. Technical Supervisor: Hudson Theatrical Associates. Production Stage Manager: Kimberly Fisk. Casting: Telsey + Company Bethany Knox, CSA. Company Manager: Roeya Banuazizi.

Cast:

Alexander Hamilton: Michael Luwoye. Eliza Hamilton: Solea Pfeiffer. Aaron Burr: Joshua Henry. Angelica Schuyler: Emmy Raver-Lampman. George Washington: Isaiah Johnson. Marquis De Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson: Jordan Donica. Hercules Mulligan/James Madison: Mathenee Treco. John Laurens/Philip Hamilton: Rueben J. Carbajal. Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds: Amber Iman. King George: Rory O’Malley. Philip Schuyler/James Reynolds/Doctor: Ryan Vasquez. Samuel Seabury: Andrew Wojtal. Charles Lee: Daniel Ching. George Eacker: Raymond Baynard. Ensemble: Raymond Baynard, Dan Belnavis, Daniel Ching, Jeffery Duffy, Jennifer Geller, Afra Hines, Sabrina Imamura, Lauren Kias, Raven Thomas, Ryan Vasquez, and Andrew Wojtal.

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