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BWW Review: The National Tour of HAMILTON Takes the Stage at Philadelphia's Academy of Music

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See this revolutionary musical live on stage!

Hamilton (Philip Company)

Very few (if any) Broadway shows have reached the heights that Hamilton has achieved. There have been shows that swept the awards season as critical successes, shows that cultivated a following so devoted that a communal name for the fans was developed, shows that changed the game for how theatre could be made and presented, and shows that uniquely spoke to and represented the time in which it premiered. Hamilton did all of that and more. Tony-sweeping, Pulitzer prize-winning, star-making, mania-inducing, it's fair to say that Hamilton's impact as a musical is unmatched. It has taken on an almost mythical quality - six years after it first opened on Broadway, telling someone you have tickets to Hamilton is still something that instills a sense of awe in people.

The conversation around Hamilton has changed. Time and a fiercely shifting cultural landscape have had theater fans (especially and most passionately Gen Z and millennials) reexamining Hamilton's place in the world of theatre and in our culture at large. But, while the conversation may have changed, the show's popularity has not. Culture may shift, discussions may arise, and Hamilton may have struck at the perfect moment in time, but at the end of the day, the quality of the show is undeniable. Hamilton might not feel quite as revolutionary as it once was, but it is still one of the best-written, most creatively staged musicals of all time, one that requires not only a production on Broadway, but in the West End, Los Angeles, Australia, and soon in Germany, as well as three national touring companies.

The Philip Company of Hamilton came to Philadelphia last night, performing at the beautiful Academy of Music. The show, equally as genius in its show-stopping moments as it is in its quieter ones, was brought to life with power and nuance by a talented and capable cast. Pierre Jean Gonzalez as Alexander Hamilton brought a self-assuredness and intensity to the role, often a grounding presence on stage as the controlled chaos of the ensemble swirled around him. While Lin-Manuel Miranda's original incarnation of Alexander Hamilton exploded with the lovably awkward, overexcited energy of the smartest kid in class, Gonzalez gave off the feeling as Alexander Hamilton that he could, and would, fight anyone, not just in a battle of wits, but in a physical one as well, and win. It was as if his Hamilton was thinking, "Who has time for humor when there is so much to prove to the world?"

Jared Dixon as Aaron Burr shined brightest in the moments when he could show off his gorgeous voice. While he may have lacked the quietly menacing quality that should make Aaron Burr the most interesting character when he's on stage, Dixon nonetheless made for a compelling and sympathetic Aaron Burr. Ta'Rea Campbell was one of the biggest highlights of the night as Angelica Schuyler, with a voice that effortlessly stole the show and acting chops for days. Another unexpected highlight (and I only say unexpected because it isn't often that 'One Last Time' is the most applauded number of the night) was Marcus Choi's performance as George Washington. Choi brought a necessary strength and composure to the role of the nation's leader, as well as a scene-stealing singing voice. Stephanie Jae Park as Eliza was the perfect counterpart to Gonzalez's bullheaded Hamilton, providing a sturdy sense of calm. Park sang the role with ease and style, often eliciting impressed cheers from the audience.

Paige Smallwood as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds was fantastic, especially as the sultry Reynolds. Elijah Malcomb played his dual roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton with equal parts earnestness and energy. Warren Egypt Franklin as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson came to life in the show's second act, injecting Jefferson with style and flare. Desmond Sean Ellington as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison too thrived in the second act, playing off Franklin naturally. Neil Haskell as King George easily drew laughter from the audience through his physicality and skilled balancing of unhinged loopiness with threatening undercurrents.

While the roles with name recognition often get the most attention, the unsung heroes of Hamilton are the members of the show's ensemble. Precise, skilled dancers and outstanding singers who keep the show moving forward, the ensemble of Hamilton's Philip Company simply cannot be praised enough.

At the end of the day, Hamilton is not-to-be-missed theatre. If you have the chance to see any production of Hamilton, you would be remiss not to take up that opportunity. With that being said, it was a particular pleasure to see the show performed by this fantastic company.


How To Get Tickets

Hamilton is being presented at the Kimmel Cultural Campus' Academy of Music from Wednesday, October 20, 2021 - Sunday, November 28, 2021.

Tickets are on sale now and start at $29, with great seats from $99. Best availability on weeknight performances. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999 or online at www.kimmelculturalcampus.org. In-person ticket sales can be conducted daily from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the Academy of Music Box Office, located at 240 S. Broad Street. Group sales are available for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased by calling (215) 790-5883. See www.kimmelculturalcampus.org for more information.


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