Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
An unlikely success is the word for Lin-Manuel Miranda's audacious musical, a popular favorite that also won both the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A retelling of the life of Alexander HamiltonCaribbean immigrant, aide to George Washington during the American Revolution, first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, political theorist, sometimes too honest for his own goodwith an ethnically diverse cast and hip-hop underpinnings? Yes, and it really does live up to the hype. Debates about financial policy and military strategy have never been so engaging.
People who know the score from the original cast recording may need a short time to get used to the different singing voices in this cast. Stay with it.
To begin with, the tour Hamilton, Austin Scott, has the laser focus and necessary self-possession for the role while also being a better singer than Miranda, who is more of a rapper who can carry a tune. This difference allows the melodies to stand out more, adding to the sense of discovery in this production.
Nicholas Christopher is an admirable foil to Scott as Aaron Burr, hiding behind a slick façade in public while privately fuming about his lack of access to "the room where it happens." He has as much pride in his abilities as Hamilton but much more to lose, making his circumspection understandable.
Julia K. Harriman is lovely and heartbreaking as Eliza Hamilton, Sabrina Sloan is a glittering Angelica Schuyler, and they play off each other beautifully, most notably in their separate memories of their first meeting with Hamilton.
Other standout performers in the large ensemble cast include Bryson Bruce, who swaggers amusingly and seizes the audience's attention in the double role of the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson; Rubén J. Carbajal, with achingly tender performances as Hamilton's friend John Laurens and Hamilton's son Philip; and Peter Matthew Smith in the can't miss role of King George.
The physical production does not seem scaled down from Broadway: David Korins' scenic design is as expansive as ever, Thomas Kail's direction remains sharply focused, and Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography retains its percussive impact.