BWW Review: HAMILTON at the Adrienne Arsht Center
Like most theatre geeks (and at this point much of the world) Hamilton is playing on our iTunes playlist, our car radios and on shuffle for years since it first became a cultural phenomenon. My one claim to fame is that I saw the original cast on Broadway during previews, which I know will be a short-lived claim since the movie with the original Broadway cast will be released soon but I can still say I saw it LIVE!!! And boy have I used that as a conversation starter many times. I meet Lin-Manuel Miranda, Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff THE WHOLE CAST at stage door and I have pictures to prove it but I digress.
Hamilton is a masterpiece - one that miraculously delivers despite all the hype that surrounds it. It really is that good! But with a cast on Broadway, many in cities in the U.S. and London, you may wonder is it worth seeing the touring cast? I have one short answer- YES!
I have now seen the show on Broadway twice -the original cast and again this January during Martin Luther King weekend (Twice on Broadway is a big deal for this Miami girl!) and now the Angelica tour at the Arsht Center. I was surprised to find that the Angelica cast was quite simply much better than what I recently saw on Broadway. - Since I am not reviewing that show that is all I have to say about that.
You will be in awe of the set whose design is an exact replica of the original. That is not where the deja vu will end its just the beginning. The Angelica tour is all the best parts of the original.
But before I type one more sentence, we must talk about the choreography. The dancing is such so clean, precise and beautiful it is awe-inspiring. There is one moment that caught my attention where the ensemble outstretches their legs in a seated position just at the right time with music and the lyrics- it just about made me cry.
Edred Utomi playing Hamilton had all the swag needed to play the hip hop version of our founding father. Just in case I haven't reminded you enough, I saw Lin-Manuel Miranda play Hamilton LIVE- Utomi had big shoes to fill and he did with his own interpretation of Hamilton. He was so childlike yet so persuasive we want to forgive him for all of Hamilton's transgressions.
Bryson Bruce and Tyler Belo were so much fun to watch as LaFayette/Jefferson and Hercules Mulligan/ Madison respectively. I have always had a qualm with the script for having actors play different characters during Act I and Act Two which could be confusing. Yet, Bryson Bruce and Tyler Belo did a wonderful job completely embodying the characters with different mannerisms.
As good as they were it was Jon Viktor Corpuz who played Laurence/Philip Hamilton who was a scene-stealer. As both characters, his sweetness and charismatic energy filled the stage. You look forward to seeing him again which completely leaves you heartbroken at his final exit.
It isn't all smooth sailing, there are a few missteps. The role of Aaron Burr doesn't quite have the right energy to play the antagonist. There was much left to be desired in his performance in general but it was especially lacking in Dear Theodosia- one of my favorite songs. The bigger issues I think were with the casting of both Angelica and Eliza who were gifted singers but didn't embody the leading ladies with the life necessary to play such strong-willed characters. While Washington has the stage presence to play our first president, he didn't have the voice to match. Yet, who else can sing like Christopher Jackson (swoon)?
All in all, believe the hype. The talk of the town is Hamilton at the Arsht Center and rightfully so. Don't throw away your shot and make sure you are in the room where it happens!
Hamilton plays now until March 15 at the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami- $79-$449; the #HAM4HAM digital lottery offers 40 tickets at $10 each to every performance; use the official app hamiltonmusical.com/app or visit hamiltonmusical.com/lottery to register More information: 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org