Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hamilton (revisited) **** A

When I first saw Lin-Manuel Miranda’s highly anticipated hip-hop musical about the life of one of our most intriguing founding fathers, it was still in previews at the Public Theater. The multi-talented Miranda not only wrote the music, lyrics and book; he is the co-arranger and, last but not least, the original star. This ambitious, inventive show remains strong across the board: the entertaining, informative and emotionally involving book is filled with moments of humor and pathos, the characters are vividly drawn, the lyrics are extremely clever, the deceptively simple scenic design (by David Korins) is effective, the costumes (by Paul Tazewell) are attractive, the choreography (by Andy Blankenbuehler) supports the action brilliantly, the cast is uniformly strong and the direction (by Thomas Kail) is fluid and assured. As for the music, Miranda makes a strong case for the expressive possibilities of hip-hop. Christopher Jackson, the only holdover in a principal role, has just the right gravitas for George Washington. The good news is that the newcomers to the cast are generally fine and the production is as sharp as ever. Javier Munoz’s Hamilton is just as impressive as Miranda’s was. Brandon Victor Dixon is a fine Aaron Burr even though he lacks Leslie Odom Jr’s lean hungry look. Seth Stewart is almost as good as Daveed Diggs was in two juicy roles — Lafayette and Jefferson. The replacements for Eliza (Lexi Lawson) and Angelica (Mandy Gonzalez) were a bit of a letdown after Philllipa Soo and RenĂ©e Elise Goldsberry. I miss Brian D’Arcy James’s loopy King George, but Rory O’Malley is good. If the show has a fault, it is that Miranda was overambitious and included too much material. The finale remains a bit flat. I was a bit exhausted by play’s end, but it was a pleasant kind of exhaustion. Running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes including intermission. 

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