Take a break: ‘Hamilton’ is in LA!

Courtesy of Pete Souza via Wikimedia Commons under Public Domain

Addressing all Hamilfans: “Hamilton” has finally come to grace us in our corner of the country on Hollywood Boulevard with a newly-casted performance that has many critics raving. One of the few silver linings of COVID was the addition of “Hamilton” to Disney+. Through the haze of binges on different streaming platforms, “Hamilton” has definitely become a favorite amongst musical lovers and new fans of the theater arts scene. The weekend that the musical came to our screens, Disney+ saw a 74% increase in the number of downloads of their app. The original cast was considerably brilliant, and it left many viewers of this performance endeared to these particular actors. Lin-Manuel Miranda became the face of the play he wrote to exemplify hip-hop and to narrate through the eyes of an immigrant. 

The Disney+ version conveys a beautifully composed narrative of Alexander Hamilton and his ambitions to become a person of importance while simultaneously creating a patriotic effort to help the nation find its footing. Every step of the way is one to ogle at with the choreography, singing and overall talents of the cast and crew, with some of the greatest achievements being the use of dancing to convey different actions in the show. For example, there were several parts in the musical that used choreography to metaphorically indicate a bullet. The dancer not only portrayed its path, but also gave the viewer a sense of time and how it slowed down in the face of whatever the characters were facing in the moment. Overall, the musical is one to put on your list if it’s something you have not seen already. 

The newly-casted “Hamilton” is nothing to sneer at, however. Nicholas Christopher, the newly-casted Aaron Burr, gives his character a burst of life with added sarcastic diction and a clear hesitance in body language that translates to the overall theme of Burr’s purpose in Hamilton’s story. This is to say that his performance, while different from Leslie Odom Jr. ‘s on Disney+, was refreshing and fun to watch. Many of the newly-casted members brought different dimensions of the  popular characters to life with their interpretations of the role. 

Another formidable execution was that of the character Peggy Schuyler. Actress, Taylor Iman Jones brought a child-like silliness to the character that gave the moments she shone on stage comic relief for the viewer. Her voice was unmatched and showcased the youthful energy of Peggy. In several of her moments on stage, she led her excitement with small juvenile dances and excited expressions that emphasized the age difference between her and her sisters. The last honorable mention goes to Jamael Westman and his powerhouse of a voice for the legendary “Hamilton.” He held a candle to Lin Manuel’s performance in giving the character just as much gusto and translating his ambition to the audience. Every song was stronger than the one before, and he never faltered in his performance as the founding father.

While we all hold the Disney+ version near and dear to our hearts, there is a lot to be experienced in seeing this show in person. It’s difficult to make time for a three-hour musical in our everyday lives, and it does not register as clearly when you realize these actors are dancing and singing for all three hours straight. The performance shakes you to the core when the synchronous dancers continue their energy from start to end in order to portray the fullest experience of the musical. Every aspect is different from every side of the theater — the way the stage moves, the dramatic lighting and even the way the actors have been blocked on the stage. 

This theater production is already running and will continue to show through to Jan. 2, 2022. The tickets are starting at just $49, and considering the intimacy of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, every seat is a great seat. The theater itself is a beautiful venue with a great staff. There is also merchandise available once you are checked in, including shirts, buttons, mugs, bags and more. Watching this in person will definitely give you a different experience than watching it through the screen at home as well as serve to fuel your need for “Hamilton” content as we move forward into our academics here at UCR.

Verdict: The new cast of “Hamilton” has given this classical and fan-favorite Broadway show a new energy! Especially with in-person Broadway shows returning, we are able to watch “Hamilton” live as it carries the excitement that it brings to the public.

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