Hamilton smashes expectations at PPAC

Chris De’Sean Lee, Jose Ramos, Wallace Smith, Miguel Cervantes – HAMILTON Chicago Company – (c) Joan Marcus 2016

 

By Kimberly Rau

At this point, if you haven’t heard of the runaway hit “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony award-winning hip hop-based musical about founding father and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, you haven’t been paying attention to the theater scene for ages. You still really can’t get same-day tickets for the Broadway production, at least not without using your house as collateral, but, according to the powers that be at the Providence Performing Arts Center, (very limited) tickets are still available for this leg of the U.S. tour. If you’re wondering if you should go, the answer is: Yes. Yes, you should. Because as good as you’ve heard the show is, it’s better.

As strange as the content matter may sound, Hamilton led a very interesting life, especially when you consider how often his mouth and command of the written word got him into trouble. For a guy who died relatively young (in a duel, and a good portion of the show’s narrative is told from the point of view of “the damn fool that shot him,” Aaron Burr) he accomplished a lot, and the concepts of the American Dream, leaving your legacy, and political drama are ones that transcend any particular historical period. Miranda’s choice to tell the story through a much more modern musical style, using an ethnically diverse cast that represents the fabric of today’s America, is nothing short of genius. 

With a really tight book and score (Miranda, inspired by Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow) and outstanding choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), director Thomas Kail has more than enough material to give audiences a theatrical thrill, but then the show goes above and beyond thanks to a truly great cast. On press night, Edred Utomi knocks it out of the park as the “young, scrappy and hungry” Hamilton, his excellent performance matched note for note by Hannah Cruz as his wife, Eliza, and Stephanie Umoh as his witty, strong-willed sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler. (Miranda veers from history a bit by making Schuyler unmarried and interested in Hamilton when they first meet, but it’s forgivable for the sake of the story.) Josh Tower is the studious and careful Aaron Burr, and Paul Oakley Stovall gives us a towering and impressive George Washington. Bryson Bruce is the fast-rapping Marquis de Lafayette as well as the arrogant Thomas Jefferson, and his face-offs with Utomi during the political cabinet meetings are some of the funniest moments in the show. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—for a show that runs close to three hours, there’s not a weak moment in it, thanks to a killer supporting cast. Notable musical numbers include “Wait for It,” “The Battle of Yorktown,” “One Last Time,” and “Hurricane,” for both strong performances and really clever staging, but again, that’s a matter of personal preference. Just about every song is amazing. 

So how can you see the show, if you didn’t buy tickets the moment they went on sale earlier this spring? You can try the usual means (see ticket information at the end of the review), but you can also try your luck in the #ham4ham lottery, where 40 tickets for each performance will be sold for $10 each. You can download the official Hamilton app from your smartphone’s app store, or visit hamiltonmusical.com/lottery to register. The lottery opens at 11 a.m. two days prior to the performance date in question and closes at 9 a.m. the day prior to it, with notifications going out by 11 a.m. the day prior. Each winner may purchase up to two tickets, which must be purchased with a credit card by 4 p.m. the day prior to the performance. Lottery tickets may be picked up at the box office starting two hours before the performance, and the photo ID presented must match the name on the credit card that was used to purchase them.

Regardless of how you get your tickets, if you can score a seat, you don’t want to miss this fantastic season finale of the Taco/White Broadway Series. 

Hamilton runs through Aug. 11 at the Providence Performing Arts Center, 220 Weybosset St., Providence. Tickets may be won through the lottery or purchased (again, seating is “very limited”) at the box office, online at ppacri.org, or by calling 401.421.2787. 

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