BWW Review: HAMILTON at the Paramount Does Not Throw Away Its Shot

BWW Review: HAMILTON at the Paramount Does Not Throw Away Its Shot
Hamilton Company
HAMILTON National Tour
Photo credit: (c) Joan Marcus

Yes, it's true. The undeniable juggernaut that is the multiple Tony Award winner, including for Best Musical, "Hamilton" has descended upon Seattle. Just like in New York for so long, theatergoers here will now be uttering the same query to each other, "Have you seen 'Hamilton' yet?" And if you were lucky enough to snag some tickets through a Season subscription, the general sale or maybe the daily "Hamilton" lottery you'll be able to answer with a resounding "YES, and it was AMAZING!" But why is it amazing and how does this one stack up to the original cast with which most are so familiar? Well, Dear Readers, let's talk.

For those out there still unfamiliar with the show, and there are still some. (I ran into one yesterday and almost plotzed) it's, simply put, the history of one of America's founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton (Joseph Morales) from his meager and tumultuous upbringing through his time in the war, into politics and eventually leading to his fateful duel with Aaron Burr (Nik Walker). But what turns this already quite engaging tale on its head is that it's told through a mixture of traditional Broadway and Hip Hop and Rap all stemming from the genius that is Lin-Manuel Miranda. I say genius as Miranda has so seamlessly integrated these two different styles so well into a show that's almost completely sung through so as you never hear the change in tone or style. It all sounds as if they were made for each other from day one. Add into that the outstanding orchestration from Alex Lacamoire, the jaw dropping choreography from Andy Blankenbeuhler and the incredible direction from Thomas Kail, not to mention the stunning scenic design from David Korins, costume design from Paul Tazewell, lighting by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg and hair and wig design from Charles G. LaPointe and what we have, Dear Readers, is art. This is one of those shows I like to refer to as alchemy, where everything magically comes together to create pure gold. If you've only heard the cast album, the visuals on this one add so much more.

But most fans are so familiar with the original cast album. I know many who are obsessed, listening to it on loop. Some may even have been fortunate enough to have seen the original cast on Broadway. I myself was, thanks to a wonderful friend. So, can this compare? Absolutely. Is it the same? No, and it shouldn't be. This touring cast takes this incredible show and does not do a cookie cutter imitation of the originals but puts their own brilliant spin on things and that's what makes live theater such a vibrant, living entity.

BWW Review: HAMILTON at the Paramount Does Not Throw Away Its Shot
Solea Pfeiffer, Emmy Raver-Lampman
& Amber Iman in
HAMILTON National Tour
Photo credit: (c) Joan Marcus

Morales definitely starts off more subdued than you may be used to, but he gives himself so much more room to grow within his story arc and he does so beautifully. Walker has enough presence for 10 Burrs making him super likable yet, well, not as he's "the villain in our story". Ta'Rea Campbell and Shoba Narayan are each devastatingly powerful as Angelica and Eliza Schuyler but both in their very individual ways. And I have to mention how much Narayan broke my heart throughout with her journey. Marcus Choi is not the George Washington I'm used to and felt a little underplayed until his final moments that tore the house down. And Jon Patrick Walker was hilarious as the overly doting King George and owned every moment he had.

And now I must mention four tracks that may be the most demanding in the show and were stunners. These four actors have to pull double duty all night long, each with two very different characters. Elijah Malcomb starts the night as one of Alexander's best friends John Laurens with tons of resolve and dedication and then moved onto play Hamilton's son Phillip whose bravado will break your heart. Fergie L. Phillipe was probably my favorite of the four with his braggadocious Hercules Mulligan and then going into the meeker and sickly James Madison. Kyle Scatliffe who Seattle audiences may remember from his amazing turn as Jud in "Oklahoma" a few years back was a stunner as the quick talking Lafayette and then the scheming Jefferson. And last but certainly not least Danielle Sostre as the notably overlooked Schuyler sister Peggy who turns around to completely kill it as the sultry Maria Reynolds.

So, this is not your cast album's "Hamilton". It's got all the elements but then so much more as we get to explore all new sides of our favorite characters. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give "Hamilton" at the Paramount a should-be-a-surprise-to-no-one WOW. Now, if you don't already have tickets, get your name in that Lottery so you too can "be in the room where it happens".

"Hamilton" performs at the Paramount through March 18th. For tickets or information visit Seattle Theatre Group online at www.stgpresents.org.

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From This Author Jay Irwin

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