Review: HAMILTON's Triumphant Return To Toronto Proves You Need To Be In The Room Where It Happens

The production runs through August 20.

By: Feb. 28, 2023
Review: HAMILTON's Triumphant Return To Toronto Proves You Need To Be In The Room Where It Happens
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HAMILTON takes another shot at Toronto as the production returns as part of Mirvish's 2022/23 season. The show ran briefly in 2020 before it was forced to close early due to the pandemic, meaning many Canadian audiences who've been waiting for it the last three years will finally have the chance to experience the groundbreaking show live.

The show, sung through in nearly its entirety and clocking in at just under three hours, tells the story of some of America's most well known - and otherwise - founding fathers. Opening on a young Alexander Hamilton (Deaundre' Woods) as he arrives in New York City, 1776. The first act follows his time as a revolutionary, his work under George Washington (Darnell Abraham), his marriage to Eliza Schuyler (Morgan Anita Wood), and the start of America's formation of a country. The second act focuses on Hamilton's later years, with his work as a lawyer, his family life, political and personal scandals, and ultimately his death at the hands (or bullet) of his friend-turned-rival Aaron Burr (Donald Webber, Jr.).

This production, under the lovingly dubbed 'And Peggy' tour, maintains the direction (Thomas Kail) choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), and music arrangement (Alex Lacamoire) of the original Broadway production - the only real difference is its cast. After spending years with content featuring the original cast, fans might not be sure what to expect with different actors in the roles. Any concerns are swept away within the first number of the show, though; while remaining true to the story, this cast brings a refreshing, welcome interpretation of its characters.

In the titular role, Woods is a stellar Hamilton. He's got the skill to deliver Hamilton's rapid-fire thoughts with ferocity and charm, and he carries the role with an underlying tension to everything he does that highlights just how badly he feels the need to prove himself. Webber Jr. takes the role of Burr, Hamilton's rival to fascinating places. He's often quieter, less wordy than Hamilton, but commands attention just as easily. His 'Wait For It' is emotionally striking, and he shows his versatility (and impressive voice) in the act two show-stopper 'The Room Where It Happens'. Abraham is a stoic, solid Washington who carries some of the more profound sentiments and lines of the work alongside powerhouse vocal moments in 'One Last Time'.

Playing double-duty as Hamilton's revolutionary friends in the first act and his political rivals in the second, Paris Nix is an energetic, expressive Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson; contrasting this is Brandon Louis Armstrong's crude yet loveable Hercules Mulligan in act one, and then a seamless transition to the stuffy James Madison to combat Hamilton's political work in his later years. Andy Tofa brings a heavy emotional weight to both acts, as John Laurens and Hamilton's eldest son Philip - both executed beautifully.

While the majority of characters are male, the women of HAMILTON make up a massive component of the show's heart. Wood is at the epicenter of it all as Eliza; she plays the middle Schuyler sister with a wide-eyed hopefulness that persists through the highs and lows of the woman's life, and has a clear, bright tone that suits her vocal performances perfectly. As the eldest Schuyler Angelica, Marja Harmon is a knockout - her fast-paced 'Satisfied' is goosebumps-inducing. The youngest Schuyler sister, Peggy, and act two's Maria Reynolds (Malika Cherée) is played with a sympathetic innocence later turned vulnerability.

It's an ambitious undertaking to fit roughly 30 years of history into a musical, but with Lin Manuel Miranda's (book, music, and lyrics) genius use of rap, it just works. It's nothing new to say that HAMILTON is a masterpiece of modern Broadway and has set a new precedent for what musical theatre can look and sound like, but experiencing it live really drives that point home. While many audiences have likely experienced the filmed version featuring the original Broadway cast on streaming services, HAMILTON is a whole other beast live. With that said, anyone with a remote interest in music, theatre, history, or just a general desire to see an incredible performance should not throw away their shot to see this show during it's Toronto run.


Mirvish's production of HAMILTON runs through August 20 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King Street West, Toronto. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit mirvish.com/shows/hamilton.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus




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