BWW Review: HAMILTON Satisfies Audiences at Fox Cities P.A.C.
HAMILTON recently opened at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton and will continue to play through October 20. When a show receives as much hype as HAMILTON has, it can seem almost a letdown compared to its reputation. However, HAMILTON is truly a modern masterpiece with tremendous artistry, subtlety, and nuance.
The plot follows the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. While he may not receive as much credit as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, his actions shaped the United States, and his life was full of intrigue, determination, and loss. Lin-Manuel Miranda clearly researched Alexander Hamilton and his counterparts into oblivion. While the plot deviates from history on some points, it is done with clear purpose. Miranda's version of history is much more humanizing than what you've probably read in the history books.
It's difficult to add to the sea of praise that's already been heaped upon the show. Many musical theater fans will have already listened to the cast recording a few (or a few thousand) times. The music itself is diverse and varied, while the lyrics are poetic.
The staging lives up to the promise of the music. Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler matches the complexity and artistry of Lin-Manuel Miranda's music and lyrics. Scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, and lighting design by Howell Binkley create the necessary ambiance without drawing too much attention away from the performance.
The show features a large cast of extraordinarily talented performers.
Joseph Morales stars as Alexander Hamilton. He previously performed as Usnavi when IN THE HEIGHTS visited the Fox Cities P.A.C. Though Alexander Hamilton lived a very different life in a very different era, Morales brings the same passion and relatability to the role as he did to Usnavi.
Nik Walker plays Aaron Burr, Hamilton's friend/rival. While Burr could come across as a villain, Walker brings so much sensitivity to the role that it is hard not to pity the character.
Nikisha Williams plays Eliza. She is perhaps the kindest character in the show, and Williams presents her with a gentle strength.
Ta'Rea Campbell plays Angelica. Her performance is nothing short of captivating, and her powerful voice seems fitting for the intelligent and charismatic character.
Marcus Choi plays George Washington. He projects the dignified air befitting the first president of the United States. However, he also captures a fatherly side that adds warmth to the character.
Neil Haskell offers tremendous comic relief as King George. While the lyrics of the songs he sings are quite funny in their own right, Haskell's facial expressions, inflection, and movements add even more humor.
One of the most captivating things to watch is the transformation of some cast members between the first and second acts. Warren Egypt Franklin plays Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Desmond Sean Ellington plays Hercules Mulligan and James Madison, Elijah Malcomb plays John Laurens and Philip Hamilton, and Nyla Sostre plays Peggy and Maria Reynolds. While changes in costuming and hair help signal that these performers are playing different roles, it is remarkable to watch how each performer adjusts his or her face, voice, inflection, and carriage when switching between characters.
While HAMILTON enjoys nearly mythic status, it is deserving of the hype. Epic gems like this are rare, so it is a real treat to watch. HAMILTON will continue to play at the Fox Cities P.A.C until October 20. Limited tickets are still available.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus