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Review: HAMILTON at The Fox Theatre Blows Us All Away

Don't throw away your shot to see this award-winning show!

Review: HAMILTON at The Fox Theatre Blows Us All Away

How long has it been since you last sat in a theatre? For me, it'd been since March 2020. It felt like a dream to be sitting in the Fox Theatre again as if I was living out some wild fantasy in my head as I settled in under the night-sky blue ceiling to watch HAMILTON.

So much has changed yet it all felt so familiar. A part of me that has been dormant came back to life and I nearly cried tears of joy over being able to be back in the theatre. I was overwhelmed with how special the theatre is, how magical, and how grateful I was to be back in those seats. And what a show to return to!

HAMILTON at The Fox Theatre is a remarkable show and the perfect note to revive theatre in Atlanta with. With power-house performances, technical masterpieces, and a multiple award-winning score, being able to see HAMILTON almost feels like a rite of Broadway passage now. Even if you've streamed it on Disney+, listened to the soundtrack on repeat for months, and watched as many clips as you could find on YouTube, seeing the show in person makes everything feel new again.

During the night I saw the show, the lights came up, the music started, and Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr stepped out onto the stage to thunderous applause. The familiar melody built and built and built up to Hamilton's first entrance and when Pierre Jean Gonzalez introduced himself as Alexander Hamilton for the first time, the performance had to hold for applause as the entire audience celebrated.

It's good to be back, folks. (Thank you, back!)

Review: HAMILTON at The Fox Theatre Blows Us All Away

This production of HAMILTON is packed with an incredible cast that seems to effortlessly guide the ensemble-led show together like a perfectly timed clocktower. Pierre Jean Gonzalez's Hamilton is solidly comfortable with taking up space and has a laser focus on his ambitions for greatness. Watching him push like a bull through obstacles ("My Shot") only to be swirled up by the consequences of his actions ("Hurricane") and then humbled by them ("It's Quiet Uptown"), Gonzalez deftly delivers each moment with poignant urgency, masterful creativity, and thoughtful precision.

On the other side of that foil, Jared Dixon's Aaron Burr has an unmatched zest for life that is infectious. He leans into Burr's calculative charm and highlights his talent for flare with quick-witted reactions and flashy smiles. Dixon's patience as Burr is full of tenderness and reverence for that which he loves ("Wait for It"), and when the coin flips his aggressiveness lights an unstable fire under Burr's ass ("The Room Where It Happens"). Dixon's performance is full of fresh efficiency, captivating zeal, and heartfelt delicacy.

The Schuyler Sisters stole the show for me. Stephanie Jae Park's Eliza is unforgettably elegant in the way she graces the stage with her presence and with her voice. Park leans into Eliza's genuineness and vulnerability, crafting ecstasy onstage as Eliza falls in love with Hamilton ("Helpless"). Park's ability to dive into the deepest parts of one's heart inspires a haunting emptiness to Eliza's story after Hamilton's infidelity ("Burn") and highlights the awesome power of forgiveness that we sometimes take for granted ("It's Quiet Uptown").

If you look up the definition of "power" you'll see Ta'Rea Campbell's Angelica Schuyler. Filled from crown to toe top with bold spitfire, Campbell commands the stage with the same authority a walking bonfire would. Amplified by her impeccable comedic timing, Campbell highlights Angelica's ferocity of will and hunger for what's over the horizon ("The Schuyler Sisters"). Campbell roars with self-confidence as she brings to life Angelica's strategic level-headedness, passionate self-awareness, and willingness to sacrifice for those she loves ("Satisfied").

As Peggy, Paige Smallwood perfectly completes the trio of sisters with her explosive expressiveness. However, Smallwood shines most as Maria Reynolds - tempting Gonzalez's Hamilton, the audience, and probably every single person ever too. Her sense of ease, confidence, and teasing know-how is clear as she leads a masterclass on seduction in a red dress ("Say No To This").

Review: HAMILTON at The Fox Theatre Blows Us All Away

I imagine it's intimidating to play a legend on stage, but Marcus Choi brought George Washington to life with such a thoughtful and powerful presence that I was blown away by how effortless he made it look. Standing tall, Choi's compelling voice demanded undivided attention to every syllable of what he said ("Right Hand Man") and filled the air of the theatre with reverential reverberations ("One Last Time"). Choi's George Washington is characterized by his dedication to detail, chess-like strategy, and unflinching conviction.

Neil Haskell's tyrannical King George reminded me of watching an all-important two-year-old throw a hissy fit onstage only for that two-year-old to suddenly turn into a cold-blooded serial killer within a single line ("You'll Be Back" / "What Comes Next" / "I Know Him"). Haskell's ability to play with an audience served his duality well. At the same time we hated and feared King George, we were all excited to see Haskell on stage and eager to see what he'd surprise us with next.

As Marquis de Lafayette, Warren Egypt Franklin has a fantastic French accent. It took me a moment to tune into his delivery, but once I did his fearlessly bombastic choices landed with deadly accuracy each time ("Guns and Ships"). Franklin's joy for performance is clear as he indulges himself in every moment and syllable as Thomas Jefferson ("What'd I Miss"). His timing is practically perfect, especially when he surprises us with something new.

Alongside Desmond Sean Ellington as James Madison, the duo makes a scene-stealing pair that is impossible not to notice and enjoy whenever they're onstage together ("Cabinet Battle(s)" / "We Know" / "Election of 1800").

Ellington's Hercules Mulligan is a force to be reckoned with. As explosive and powerful as a volcano, his grounded yet erupting energy gears up the whole audience for a fight ("Yorktown"). Opposite Franklin's Thomas Jefferson, Desmond Sean Ellington's James Madison is a quiet yet vicious companion. With quick wit and just the right amount of demure, Ellington brings a new sense of calculative danger to James Madison ("Washington On Your Side").

Elijah Malcomb's John Laurens is as explosive as a firecracker - sometimes popping off when you least expect him to. Malcomb's intense energy makes sure that no moment with him on stage is a dull one ("The Story of Tonight"). However, it's as Philip Hamilton that Malcomb gets to truly shine. Malcomb redirects his energy in the most effective way to play Hamilton's reckless son. His emphatic showiness authentically develops into infectiously nonchalant vanity, making Philip's demise almost unwatchably heartbreaking ("Take A Break" / "Blow Us All Away").

Review: HAMILTON at The Fox Theatre Blows Us All Away

Finally, what would HAMILTON be without its ensemble? Each character performance is full of clever choices ("Farmer Refuted"), seething solos ("Ten Duel Commandments"), and dastardly displays ("Say No To This" / "Blow Us All Away"). The ensemble trusted each other's teamwork without hesitation, making all their singing and dancing look as if they're having the best time of their life on stage.

On the technical side, the show is beautiful. Seeing the revolving stage in person garners a new appreciation for the genius the entire set design has and how well it serves the story of HAMILTON. The costumes are gorgeous with billowing folds, characteristic colors, and thoughtful details dressing everyone on stage.

An exposed lighting rig deftly highlights everyone at the perfect time as a live orchestra plays with the actors onstage to produce a fully integrated sound. Both of these come together to create compelling stage pictures, unforgettable moments, and the overall signature HAMILTON style we know and love.

We live in some strange times. It may feel inappropriate to allow ourselves to fully enjoy something right now. How can we when so many others are suffering? But we must remember, there is no limit to joy and there is no shortage of suffering. Find joy where you can, as often as you can. And if your joy, like mine, is seeing live theatre - now is the perfect time to see HAMILTON at The Fox Theatre.

Review: HAMILTON at The Fox Theatre Blows Us All Away

HAMILTON is playing at The Fox Theatre until September 26th. You can get your tickets here, and check out their COVID-19 guidelines here.

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From This Author - Ella Embry

Ella Outlaw is a Mississippi Writer, Atlanta Producer, Atlanta Theatre Critic, and Your Friendly, Neighborhood Tarot Reader. 

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Twitter: ella_outlaw_

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