Friday, November 19, 2021

Broadway in Tucson Review: "Hamilton"


If there is a better musical than "Hamilton," I haven't seen it. The sheer energy that pulses through a venue as the incredibly energetic spectacle delivers one crushingly brilliant song after another is unmatchable. To attend is to feel as though you are part of something resonant and unique.

I first saw the show in Tempe in 2018, and it changed the way I thought about musicals. Heartbreaking, inspirational, incredibly catchy and noble for the strides it makes in musical theater diversity, the experience sticks with you with the impact of a first kiss.

One of the multitude of heartaches brought on by the pandemic was the cancellation of the planned 2020 tour stop in Tucson. The release of the Disney+ version with the original cast only partially sated the disappointment.

Now that vaccines and the subtle waning of the pandemic have allowed live performances to return, the production is back on tour again. As I watched with my wife, the show washed over me with cleansing properties that signified life is getting closer to what we once knew. 

"Hamilton" is far more than a standard show. It's a sign of where we have been and where we are going. And it seemed that just about everyone in the audience realized that.

It helps that the And Peggy company is absolutely crammed with talent. 

Julius Thomas III and Donald Webber, Jr. thrive in the lead roles of Hamilton and Burr, studied enough to pay tribute to the legacies of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr. while confident enough to branch out the characters with their own distinct choices. Thomas underlines his complex figure's tenacity, while Webber leans hard into Burr's cool confidence ever-fractured by his insecurities.

Other standouts include Paris Nix in a dynamic double performance as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. His Jefferson, in particular, channels the sass of Dave Chappelle. Brandon Louis Armstrong is a chronic scene-stealer as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison. 

Victoria Ann Scovens, with her impromptu beat-boxing, and Marja Harmon are ethereal as Eliza and Angelia Schuyler, and together with Milika Cheree form a tangible chemistry as the trio of sisters who would shape history.

"Hamilton" is an absolute treat, and while still spectacular on TV, encounters new dimensions of resonance and triumph in person. If you care at all about musical theater, find a way to get to the show. You never know when you'll get your next shot.

"Hamilton" plays through Dec. 5 at Centennial Hall. Buy tickets here.

No comments: