By Deborah Howell
It was media night at Hamilton the Musical at The Hollywood Pantages Theatre, and LA’s brightest stars came out out to play in earnest. My friend and I glimpsed Steve Edwards and Julie Chang from Good Day LA, Jimmy Kimmel and his stunning date in a gorgeous red dress, Chelsea Handler looking truly beautiful, Paula Abdul, and a whole bunch of actors and actresses we knew by face but not by name. All were smiling and chatting away with anticipation.
I’d been hearing the accolades for this musical for forever, so I had to ask myself, “Could it possibly live up to expectations?” Well, after experiencing Hamilton first-hand last night, I can answer that question with a resounding, “Ohhhhh, yeah!!!”
With Pat Prescott and Talaya Trigueros at my side, I settled into the show with great expectations. Just after the opening announcements, which were met with a huge roar, Pat leaned over to me and said, “This crowd is sooo ready for this!” And the roar that followed the opening show-stopper, “Alexander Hamilton” echoed all the way to the streets of Charlottesville, Washington, D.C. and beyond.
I’m assuming you know the backdrop of a young America about to go to war with Britain to become an independent nation. If not, you’ll get the most delightful history lesson of your life! The Founding Fathers and those who love them are each drawn with such color by this cast, you’ll never think of them in any other iteration again–especially the foppish Thomas Jefferson as played by the hilarious Jordan Donica–who also doubles as Marquis de Lafayette. That hair, that swagger, that sneer is all so gloriously cultured and crafted. Also heart-winning is Rory O’Malley’s effete incarnation of King George, which had the audience roiling with laughter with each measured gesture of his scepter.
Of course, the principles Michael Luwoye as Alexander Hamilton, Solea Pfeiffer as Eliza Hamilton (voice of an angel), Joshua Henry as a sly Aaron Burr, and Isaiah Johnson as George Washington are as strong a cast as I’ve seen on Broadway–absolutely commanding the tongue-twisting cascade of verbiage to stunning effect.
Rarely can a show live up to the kind of reputation that Hamilton has inspired. The anticipation alone plants seeds of discontent before even witnessing the musical.
But from the opening “shot”, Hamilton emerged from the stage as bright, brilliant and as theatrically focused as any piece of stage work I’ve ever seen.
The cast, their voices, the stage design, the dancers and the music were so perfectly fused into one vision that it does not appear to have been born of multiple personalities.
The inspired use of light design and the lithe choreography were so precisely articulated with the music, unfolding beautifully. Simply breathtaking to behold. But the powerful lyrics and their phenomenal execution are the heart of this production.
The underlying equality between all of the elements in this production is a tribute to the concept that the sum of the parts is actually greater than the value of each individual part. Perhaps a life lesson for all of us to remember in the current age of individual greed and pomposity.
Hamilton is insatiable. Exciting. Fresh. Invigorating. Infectious. Intelligent. Rebellious. Tight. Bright. And full of fight. Just like the genius who conceived it in the first place–Lin-Manuel Miranda–who took the stage following the performance, stating, “I don’t have anything smart to say….just that it’s a dream come true to bring this company to Los Angeles. My heart is full.”
Hamilton is finally here, L.A.! Do NOT throw away your shot to see this production while it’s in town. It’s worth any sacrifice you may have to make.
Hamilton is at the Hollywood Pantages through Saturday December 30, 2017. Visit www.HollywoodPantages.com for more information and to get your tickets