BWW Review: HAMILTON Dazzles at Bass Concert Hall
There are a handful of musicals whose debuts changed the face of what musical theatre could be: Oklahoma, Company, West Side Story, Hair, A Chorus Line and now you can add to that list HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL. HAMILTON is an international sensation that appeared on Broadway in 2015 and is sung and rapped through with scant traditional dialogue. Inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, it features music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The show incorporates hip hop, R&B, pop, soul, traditional-style show tunes, and color-conscious casting of non-white actors as the Founding Fathers and other historical figures. In 2016, HAMILTON received a record 16 Tony nominations, winning 11, including Best Musical, and was also the recipient of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The prior Off-Broadway production won the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical as well as seven other Drama Desk Awards.
The musical has two acts, using major events in Hamilton's life to tell a story of the importance of immigrants in American history. It tells Hamilton's life from beginning to end and includes such major historical figures as Marquis De Lafayette, Aaron Burr, John Laurens, Hercules Mulligan, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler, Phillip Hamilton and former presidents George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. It also features a surfuit of dance and movement that keeps the proceedings moving in a visually striking style. The sung through score contains forty seven songs with some absolutely glorious harmonies.
The scenic design, by David Korins, is a clever recreation of a Broadway stage without a traditional set on it. Using wood and bricks he creates a textural landscape that is lit to stunning effect by lighting designer Howell Binkley, enhancing mood and tone throughout the evening. Paul Tazewell's costumes are a clever mix of traditional period costumes and traditional designs altered as dance vests that allow for maximum movement.
Thomas Kail's direction is masterful, keeping the action constantly churning and contains some visually arresting moments, such as using movement to choreograph the path of a bullet. Speaking of choreography, Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography for this production is amazing and probably the most choreography I have ever seen in one production, outside of a strictly dance piece. Roberto Sinha and Alex Lacamoire get truly lush vocal work from this company bringing out not only the best in individual singers, but some truly gorgeous harmonies that are a hallmark of the score.
There is not a weak link in this touring company, however, there are some performances that deserve special mention. Erin Clemons, as Eliza Hamilton, has a glorious singing voice that she uses to tremendous effect in her solos. Nik Walker, as Aaron Burr, is deliciously conniving. Marcus Choi, as George Washington, possesses a powerful and beautiful voice. Kyle Scatliffe, in the dual roles of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson is a true triple threat. Jon Patrick Walker is hilarious as King George, delivering a performance full of sardonic humor and physicality. Finally, as Alexander Hamilton, Joseph Morales is a grounding force that keeps the story going.
In short, HAMILTON, lives up to and surpasses the hype that preceded it. This is a powerful, moving and important story that resonates with our times and entertains in grand style.
HAMILTON, Book, Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Running Time: Approximately Three Hours including intermission.
Please read and be aware of venue policies: https://texasperformingarts.org/visit/venue-policies?hq_e=el&hq_m=1440653&hq_l=6&hq_v=08e0e878f3
Performances are Tuesday, May 28 - Sunday, June 16, 2019 at Bass Concert Hall located at 2350 Robert Dedman Drive on the University of Texas campus. The show will start promptly at 8pm. Please allow plenty of time for parking and security bag check at entry. Parking is available in the SAN JACINTO or Manor parking garages; standard parking fees apply. Some parking options accept cash only.