Short & Sweet: Opening night polls declare 'Hamilton' a winner!
"Hamilton" burst onto the Chicago stage at PrivateBank Theatre recently, enchanting audiences just as much as the original production on Broadway in New York City. Diana Martinez and guest critic Kari Otteburn of Palatine were blown away by the music and the energy of the show, with Otteburn adding that she liked the Aaron Burr character the best, because his internal struggles changed the course of the show, and history as well. The rock-opera style show features an ensemble cast with each character just as strong as the next.
See below for a review by Diana Martinez of Broadway in Chicago:
It's election season in America, but in Chicago the opening night polls declared Hamilton the winner in a landslide! There couldn't be a better time to open this musical that tells the story of revolutionary ideals for a society inspired by tolerance, diversity and equality. What makes this show so powerful and relevant is that it's told by today's America in a multicultural celebration of hip-hop and rock music. The opening night audience in Chicago was electrified by this incredible production and cheered for this amazing cast from start to finish with enthusiasm and excitement.
The casting isn't the only thing that is revolutionary; Lin-Manuel Miranda's 11-time Tony Award winner is a game changer for American musical theater. He has pushed the limits of a rock-opera into a full-blown stylized rock-concert theatrical experience complete with an amazing ensemble of spectacular, sexy backup dancers.
Miranda's energized story is based on the book by Ron Chernow and follows Hamilton's life as he ascended from an orphaned immigrant who then moved to New York, worked under George Washington in the Revolutionary War, led the battle of Yorktown, promoted the U.S. Constitution through writing the Federalist papers, and then went on to create the financial system our country.
What makes this version of the story so compelling is it brings out the inner drive, determination and also the insecurities and challenges Hamilton, along with everyone, faces when trying to prove themselves. The lyrics are powerful and make this show so relatable and transferable -- we all have had that moment when we thought "I'm not throwing away my shot," "You can be a new man," "I will never be satisfied," and our hopes to "Be in the room where it happens." Miranda's songs encapsulate the passion and hopes of ordinary immigrants and Americans in the Revolutionary era that ring just as true today. I suspect the themes in Hamilton will stand the test of time for generations to come.
The production team of "Hamilton" includes scenic design by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting by Howell Binkley and choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. Led by director Thomas Kail, it's clear this show is a well-oiled machine. They produced a unified compelling conceptual world that transcends historical expectations and exemplifies collaboration.
Each show I invite a Daily Herald reader to be my guest audience critic and give you their take on the show. Kari Ottenburn from Palatine was my guest and we both were just blown away by this phenomenal show and felt that the entire ensemble was fantastic. We really loved the passion displayed by Joshua Henry as Aaron Burr, whose vocal power is truly impressive, and we believed Alexander Gemignani stole the show as King George in his hysterical, dry Monty Python-like portrayal of King George.
Kari and I also both strongly suggest watching the PBS special "Hamilton's America" or reading a quick synopsis of the plot before you go because the show moves fast!
"Hamilton" is at The PrivateBank Theatre and don't wait to get your tickets because tickets are going fast. Check with Broadway in Chicago for the best prices and actual availability (don't be misled by third-party ticket brokers). This show runs about 2 hours and 45 minutes with an intermission and it's a great show for anyone ages 9 to 99. This is the perfect show to introduce a teenager to the excitement of live theater because they will love it!
On behalf of the Daily Herald, and Broadway in Chicago, I'm Diana Martinez and I look forward to seeing you at the theater!