Theatre Review: Hamilton

Come on! It’s Hamilton. Musical Theatre geeks across America have either already made the trek to New York, the theatre homeland, and spent their life savings on tickets, or they’ve waited impatiently for it to arrive at the major metropolitan city closest to them. The fine folks in Chicago and San Francisco have had their turn and, well, it’s finally time for Los Angeles. And we are EXCITED.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying you should start entering the lottery system to get $10 tickets now. Heck, I’m going to join in the lottery fun and I’ve already seen it. How about I promise to give them away if I get lucky? Tickets are scarce in LA, there’s no doubt. People who have never bought season tickets to theatre in their lives did so to ensure securing seats to Hamilton. The season ticket holders were then offered the ability to buy 4 additional tickets. That’s how I grabbed mine. Then the Pantages released additional tickets to the masses and now we have the $10 lottery. Here’s all the info: https://www.hollywoodpantages.com/lottery. Enter diligently. You have until Dec 30th, which means a lot of chances.

We all know the “hip-hop” musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda (music, lyrics and book) about the guy on the ten dollar bill (is that why the lottery tickets are $10?) has received a lot of hype. It won the Pulitzer and a ton of Tony’s. Is it really that great? Really? I’m here to report it IS pretty darn great, which is a little shocking, because the expectations of America are squarely on the shoulders of this musical about our founding fathers, most notably Alexander Hamilton, every… single… night. This musical, this Mr. Miranda and this cast can handle it.

What’s so great, exactly?

The story. Yup, the story of Alexander Hamilton is pretty fascinating. Unless you study up ahead of time or are a U.S. history buff, you likely don’t know all that much about Mr. Hamilton. I purposely left myself in the dark to increase the suspense. Apparently LMM was on vacation from performing In The Heights when he picked up a biography on Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and he, obviously, was fascinated, too. Hamilton was “a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a / Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten / spot in the Caribbean” and made his way to America. He was a broke but ambitious immigrant that made quite a name for himself in early politics, which is pretty inspiring, considering all the hubbub going on in America right now. And beyond that, I leave you in the dark.

The excitement. I’m not old enough to have seen the Beatles play live. But I might guess the level of sheer hysteria over Hamilton is about the same as seeing John, Paul, George and Ringo in the day. This might be seen as a con vs a pro, if you are used to a quiet (aka dull) evening of theatre. And it is a little weird. There will be people in the audience who don’t know theatre etiquette. They may talk, eat, and leave their seat for a bathroom break in the middle of the (albeit long) first act. I chalk that up to the price of getting new people excited about theatre. Let’s just agree it’s worth the price. The air is electric. The applause is enthusiastic, long and loud. The tears are real. It’s pretty crazy to be a part of it.

It’s the new musical. Are you puzzled by that statement? There are plenty of new musicals, every month, every year, there are new musicals. Did I mean, “it’s a new musical”? No. It’s the new musical… the future, if we are daring enough to continue the momentum. The casting was colorblind and the cast was superb. The Los Angeles show has an ethnic Hamilton, Burr, and George frickin’ Washington. The music was a mish-mosh of hip hop, R&B, jazz, blues and even a little traditional Broadway. The choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler) was primarily a mix of modern dance and hip hop/urban with no musical theatre cartwheel-over-the-partners-knees, anywhere in sight. Even the costumes (yes, I said it) are edgy and interesting. So many of the new, successful musicals out there are following the classic musical theatre recipes for success, for a reason, it works! But there’s nothing new there, and in the end… it’s the same old musical with some name, location and costume differences. Yawn, really. LMM has a knack for the new (you can find it in his previous, In The Heights) that fits fabulously amongst the puppets, rock opera’s and the like. The best part is it’s current. It’s themes/topics are challenging for us today, even if it’s taking place in 1776. This musical may not change your life, but it will take you in and make you think.

Lin-Manuel Miranda. Period.

The cast. I’m a jerk not to have mentioned them more because the talent there is immense: Michael Luwoye, Solea Pfeiffer, Joshua Henry, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Isaiah Johnson, Jordan Donica, Mathenee Treco, Rubén J. Carajal, Amber Iman, Rory O’Malley, Ryan Vasquez, Andrew Wojtal, Daniel Ching, Raymond Baynard, et al. And of course, the direction (Thomas Kail) is too. It’s the whole package to be sure.

This show is important. Not because it’s the hot ticket and you want to brag about it on social media. It’s important to the future of theatre. It is the future. You are going to want to know what it looks like first hand.

The Hollywood Pantages

6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, 90028

https://www.hollywoodpantages.com

tickets: $10-???? (I’m sure I don’t want to know!)

Tues-Fri 8:00 PM, Sat. 2:00 & 8:00, Sunday 1:00 & 7:00 PM

running time: 2 hours, 50 ish min.

thru: Dec 30

Find a way to get there…it’s not good enough to download the music from itunes. Get to this show.

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