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BWW Review: HAMILTON Returns to the Eccles Theater with Passion and Resilience

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HAMILTON plays the Eccles Theater for a limited engagement through Sunday, January 23, 2022.  

Hamilton (And Peggy Company)

The national tour of the smash hit HAMILTON has triumphantly returned to the Eccles Theater. On the same day the tour opened in Salt Lake City (December 28), the Broadway production of HAMILTON returned after being dark for nearly two weeks and the LA production cancelled performances until January 23 due to COVID-related precautions. Despite the uncertainty, the "And Peggy" touring company is safely performing with passion and resilience, creating a special, undeniable experience.

HAMILTON (book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda) is the 11-time Tony-winning musical that has entered the zeitgeist of popular culture. It employs rap, hip-hop, R&B, pop, and musical theatre conventions in wholly new ways to tell the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton. It chronicles his rise to power and fall from grace, including his role in the American Revolution and his political and personal lives.

Much has been said about Lin-Manuel Miranda's opus, and what greater testament does it need than its widespread, avid fan base throughout the world. The dexterity and depth of the writing is extraordinary.

Magnetic performer Julius Thomas III brings an enjoyable new take to Alexander Hamilton, his character development subtle but substantial.

In this precarious time for live theatre, standbys/swings/understudies are even more crucial than ever to ensure the show can go on. At the reviewed performance, standby Deaundre' Woods played Aaron Burr with fervor and smoldering resentment. He and Thomas were a wonderful pairing that especially highlighted the characters' early youthful zeal. The performers' similarities and differences spurred the audience to explore Burr and Hamilton as two sides of the same coin. Their dual rendition of "Dear Theodosia" was a highlight.

Thomas also has lovely chemistry with Victoria Ann Scovens as Eliza, as evidenced by their powerful reconciliation in "It's Quiet Uptown," tenderly sung by the commanding Marja Harmon as Angelica. Scovens' vocals are technically intricate and quietly powerful, and her "Helpless" and "Burn" become two of the most memorable numbers of the show with her at the helm.

Darnell Abraham's George Washington is equally impactful with an authoritative presence, undeniable singing voice, and mature dignity.

Additional memorable performances come from Paris Nix as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, Brandon Louis Armstrong as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Andy Tofa as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton, swing Milika Cherée as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, Rick Negron as King George, and Jacob Burns as Samuel Seabury and ensemble.

The ensemble as a whole deserves particular mention, as their incredible dancing and harmonies add significantly to nearly every sequence. The singular choreography by Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler is magnetic and pulsating as it shifts to fit the varying styles of the songs in a unique theatrical style while still maintaining a strong hip-hop identity.

The staging from Tony-winning director Thomas Kail is masterful. Like the show itself, it is sweeping in scope and but with an eye for detail that keeps the action intriguing. In constant motion, its fluidity is the perfect companion to the versatility of David Korins' strikingly designed and weathered brick and lumber unit set, outfitted with a well utilized turntable, that tells the story in turn with both simplicity and complexity.

The lighting by Tony-winning designer Howell Binkley compensates for the sparseness of the set through its well-timed bold, shifting colors, and the costumes by Tony winner Paul Tazewell are elegant reminders of the historical period while maintaining sleek contemporary silhouettes. The sound design by Nevin Steinberg is not only artistically inventive but also incredibly crystal clear, which is especially important for such dense lyrics to be understood and appreciated.

HAMILTON will be remembered throughout the annals of musical theatre as a show that changed the trajectory of the art form. Those with a ticket to see this phenomenal production will always remember they had a seat in the room where it happened.

HAMILTON plays the Eccles Theater for a limited engagement through Sunday, January 23, 2022. Tickets are still available, and a lottery will also take place for each performance. For tickets, call ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS (2787) or visit www.artsaltlake.org.

Photo Credit: Cast of HAMILTON. Photo by Joan Marcus.


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