Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Hamilton
National Tour
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's review of Company and Richard's reviews of The Merchant of Venice and Peerless


The Cast
Photo by Joan Marcus
The touring production of Hamilton "An American Musical" has pulled into the Orpheum like gangbusters with all the hype and hoopla that goes with it. This is one time when all of the publicity and hoopla is warranted. It's a fantastic musical with breathtaking choreography, awesome singing, and overwhelming rap. Hamilton is a vivid, ingenious and emotional two and a half hours, with intermission. I was continually stunned by the interconnecting music and verbal flair in composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda's score of close to three dozen songs.

The musical was inspired by Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton. It is not about the American Revolution "in capital letters" but about Miranda's own identity of the founding fathers, finding a perfect balance between present-day rhythms including hip-hop and the emotional lure of Broadway. He has succeeded in that.

At the beginning of the show, the cast presents the famous hymn that summarizes Alexander Hamilton's (Michael Luwoye) origins, asking "How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished in squalor, grow up to a hero and a scholar?" From there we see Hamilton become Washington's senior aide during the Revolutionary War, and eventually the first Secretary of the Treasury. He writes the Federalist Papers, marries Eliza (Solea Pfeiffer) and corresponds with her alluring sister Angelica (Emmy Raver-Lampman), both from the wealthy and publicly powerful Schuyler family; and he duels with the infamous Aaron Burr (Joshua Henry). It is no boring history lesson, but a stunning recreation of Hamilton's life.

Michael Luwoye as Alexander Hamilton gives an outstanding performance. He is a fantastic singer and pushes every scene with an arduous passion. Isaiah Johnson as George Washington sings in a reverberating gospel sound with his powerful voice. Rory O'Malley is wonderful as King George III, delightedly hilarious as he keeps his face deadpan while singing his song.

Solea Pfeiffer as Eliza Hamilton is pitch perfect, with her glittering soprano on "That Would Be Enough" and "Burn" in act two. Emmy Raver-Lampman has an electrifying voice when singing the showstopper "Satisfied." Joshua Henry performs the roles of Aaron Burr splendidly and he has a powerhouse voice when singing his songs. Burr is the most complex character in the show.

Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography is exhilarating and Thomas Kail's direction is energizing. The cast is moving constantly.

Bottom line: Hamilton is a bold musical. Miranda has refashioned history and caught the nation's attention in a way that few musicals do.

Hamilton runs through August 5, 2017, at the Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market Street, San Francisco. Seats are $100-$868 there is Lottery every day for the first two rows in the orchestra. For information and tickets, call 888-746-1799 or visit www.shnsf.com. For more information on the tour, visit www.hamiltonbroadway.com/#tour.


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