Review: Hamilton, starring Donald Webber Jr.
Hamilton is one of the hottest tickets on Broadway, and for good reason. The musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, directed by Thomas Kail, and choreographed by Andy Blankebuehler, is an incredible theatrical experience.
On the Sunday afternoon I went to the show, there were several understudies/standbys on. I got to see Donald Webber Jr. in the title role, Jennie Harney as Eliza Hamilton, Carvens Lissaint as Aaron Burr, and Thayne Jasperson as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton. Additionally, Robert Walters was on as Samuel Seabury, Antuan Magic Raimone was on as Philip Schuyler/James Reynolds/Doctor, and Eddy Lee was on as George Eacker. All the understudies/standbys are absolutely amazing. I can imagine that it must be quite hard to take over a part for a few days, but they all do it flawlessly.
The rest of the cast, Mandy Gonzalez as Angelica Schuyler, Bryan Terrell Clark, who absolutely commands attention when onstage as George Washington, James Monroe Iglehart, who I know best as the Genie in Aladdin but is wonderful as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson, J. Quinton Johnson, who really brings his characters to life as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison, Joanna A. Jones, who sings incredibly in "Say No to This" as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds, Euan Morton as King George III, and Neil Haskell as Charles Lee, are all wonderful alongside the incredibly talented ensemble.
While the whole cast is flawless, I must make note of several people. Mandy Gonzalez is so well suited for the part of Angelica. She sings "Satisfied" with as much power as the other actresses who have taken on the part while still bringing her own power to it. Euan Morton is positively hilarious as George III, filling the minutes he is on stage with humor and portrays the mad king wonderfully, especially while dancing around during "The Reynolds Pamphlet". Thayne Jasperson is fantastic as Laurens and Philip. Not only does he have an amazing voice, but he plays the part so very well. Carvens Lissaint brings an anger and depth to Aaron Burr that is unlike anything I've seen in a character. He fits the part just beautifully. Donald Webber Jr. and Jennie Harney are an amazing pairing as Alexander and Eliza, respectively. While Jennie Harvey did seem nervous at first, a few songs into the show they both did incredibly well and I hope more people get to see them together in these parts.
Many, many people have heard the music that Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote. But seeing it live is an experience unto itself. The staging, choreography, set design, and hearing the music sung live brings into a whole other dimension.
There is never a dull moment on the stage, even if there's not that many people actually on the stage. The shows moves very quickly and don't think anyone in the audience could ever be bored. As the show is about 98% sung through, there isn't a lull between songs as you find in other shows. And though all the songs are musically rooted in the same place, none of them are carbon copies of the other, giving the audience a wide variety of music to take in.
Because the cast is all over the stage and points during the show, it's almost impossible to know where to look. In certain shows you'll find that some ensemble members are better than others but this is not the case here. They are all insanely talented and they are like a well-oiled machine, perfectly in sync, doing an amazing job the entire time.
The show is almost a magical experience and it's clear to see why it won so many awards at the 2016 Tony Awards and elsewhere. It's also clear to see why the London production just broke the record for number of Olivier Award nomination received, getting 13 nominations.
Anyone can enjoy this show for its music in not just rap, with some beautiful songs such as "Helpless", "Satisfied", and "Burn". If you can, go see Hamilton whether it's on tour, in London, or on Broadway. You won't regret it and it will one of the best experiences you will have had.