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BWW Review: HAMILTON at The Orpheum Theatre Memphis

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In the room where it happens until January 2nd!

BWW Review: HAMILTON at The Orpheum Theatre Memphis In 2009, at the peak of his Broadway musical In The Heights, Lin Manuel Miranda took a little vacation and started to read a copy of the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Shortly after, he began to work on a project entitled The Hamilton Mixtape.

Miranda was soon invited by President Obama to perform a few songs from In the Heights. Miranda took a risk and instead, performed a brand new song entitled "Alexander Hamilton". He received a standing ovation and decided to continue his work. In 2013, Miranda performed in a workshop production of the show, then titled The Hamilton Mixtape at the Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theatre. The workshop consisted of the entirety of the first act of the show and three songs from the second act. In 2015, the musical opened to the public and received positive reviews. It premiered on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on July 13, 2015 and is still running today. A National Tour was launched in 2017 and the show currently performs on the West End in England, Australia, and will open in Hamburg in March 2022. At the 70th Tony Awards in 2016, the musical received 16 record-breaking nominations and won 11, including Best Musical. A filmed version of the original Broadway cast was released in 2020 on Disney+.

Though Hamilton has principal characters, much of the show is told through the ensembles' incredible choreography. There is a moment in the show that will steal your breath away when one of the performers in the ensemble acts as a bullet flying through the air. The show heavily features hip-hop, R&B, soul, and traditional show tunes. While most of the songs are rapped, there are several songs that are sung, or should I say, belted, with powerful voices. I personally find it fascinating that Miranda's research was so extensive that many of the lyrics are taken directly from primary source documents including personal letters and official documents such as The Federalist Papers and the infamous Reynolds Pamphlet. History buffs should be excited, despite the fact that Miranda took some licenses with the show.

Edred Utomi gives a delightful portrayal of the title character. With his smooth tones and fun energy, he makes for a perfect focus for the audience. The Schuyler Sisters, also, provide both comic relief and roiling emotions with their songs. King George, portrayed by Peter Matthew Smith, is the comedic gold of the show and certainly stole the spotlight whenever he made an entrance. His "You'll Be Back" takes the audience away from the intensity of the looming war or the emotional turmoil on stage for a few moments before returning us to the scene. Several of the actors portray multiple characters throughout Act I and Act II. Since half of the population has seen the musical on Disney+, there was a slight worry that there would not be much deviation but it was wonderful to see how each and every character made the role their own and gave it a personal spin.

The technical aspects also played a big part of the show. The set was heavily utilized in each scene and the lighting was almost like a new, separate character. It helped keep the emotions elevated and the story moving along. One of my favorite moments was at Intermission, when the technical crew came out to inspect the set and make sure everything was working properly. The curtain is usually drawn so we don't get to see what is happening between acts. However, the curtain was open for this entire show so the audience was gifted with a rare glimpse of behind the scenes. As an audience, we tend to forget the incredible people working tirelessly to make sure the show runs smoothly, and that brief moment reminded us of the backstage crew.

All in all, Hamilton is a fun and fascinating insight to the lives of the Founding Fathers. This National Tour cast is phenomenal and I send them all of the love and positive energy throughout the holidays and their run. I also encourage any readers to check out Hamilton's official website, where there is a Hamilton Education Program available for students grades 6th-12th. There are some interesting galleries including some of Miranda's research for the lyrics of the songs.

Hamilton plays at the Orpheum Theatre until January 2nd. Don't throw away your shot; be sure to get your tickets today!


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