Wednesday October 18th 2017

“Hamilton” An American Musical

hamiltonHighly Recommended **** The “highly anticipated” Broadway smash, award -winning “Hamilton”, An American Musical has opened! While they have been in previews at  Broadway In Chicago’s The Private Bank Theatre, tonight was the official opening! What a night it was! The starting time was changed for the opening to a six p.m. curtain. A rare occurrence, but with the Cubs playing an important game, this starting time allowed for a glorious night of theater, followed by the ability to watch the victory of game four, which guarantees the Cubbies will come back to Wrigley Field. HOORAY! ( and thanks to the producers for doing this).

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, “Hamilton”, it is a different type of musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, based on the biography of one of our country’s Founding Father’s, Alexander Hamilton, written by Ron Chernow. Miranda is the man who brought us the wonderful “In The Heights” (now playing at Stage 773, presented by Porchlight Music Theatre Company). The “Hamilton” story is that of a man who was an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right hand man. Now, how many of you knew this?  He was also the first Treasury-Secretary.hamiltonchi2

What is amazing about this production is that it has developed a following already. Shows such as “Rent”, “Les Miz”, “Stomp” and “Mamma Mia” are shows that have done likewise, and audience members seem to follow the shows as well as know it from start to finish. While this happens from time to time, “Hamilton” is probably the hardest ticket to get, and very costly, so one truly must be dedicated to become a “groupie”. This production company does have a way of getting special “auction” tickets, which I will detail later.

Let me tell you about the show itself- more of a “theatrical experience”, than a play or musical. The show features an unusual score that brings a special blend of Jazz, Blues, Hip-Hop, Rap, R & B and a few that sound like a typical Broadway tune. There is a song in the second act, “The Room Where It Happens” which kind of sums up what the theater becomes during the two-hours-forty-five minutes of “history” . Bringing Alexander Hamilton to life is Miguel Cervantes (there are some performances where Joseph Morales takes on the role). This is of course the role that Miranda played on Broadway, and I must tell you, Cervantes appears to have this role down pat. He is amazing! Playing his wife, Eliza is Ari Afsar who has a powerful voice.

The entire cast is made up of talented performers who are great story-tellers as they bring this story to us through the music and dance as directed by Thomas Kail and Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. Joshua  Henry’s Aaron Burr, Jonathan Kirkland’s George Washington and Chris De’sean Lee’s Thomas Jefferson were all dynamite. The comic relief in this show is King George, and watching Alex Gemignani play this role is worth the price of admission. He is a delight! The ensemble, many playing dual roles, are very talented and as you know, I always treat these people as the special parts that bring the whole to its glory-Karen Olivo, Wallace Smith, Jose Ramos, Samantha Marie Ware, Jin Ha, Jose Amor, John Michael Fiumara, Remmie Bourgeois, Amber Ardolino, Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Holly James, Dashi’ Mitchell, Justice Moore, Samantha Pollino and Emmy Raver-Lampman. Great work!

Unlike the musicals of old, the dialogue in this show is somewhat limited, thus there are times when it feels as if we are at a rap or hip-hop concert with the actors moving towards the audience. One of the problems that I saw, being seated in the Mezzanine instead of the main floor, was that the staging should have been set back 10 feet or so. By doing this, the action would have been further “upstage” and those in the upper sections of the house would not have to crane or bob their heads to see the action. Since it appears that this production will be here for many years ( like “Wicked” was several years ago), perhaps they can take a look at shifting this and giving even more pleasure to those who are not in the “prime” seats.hamiltonchi5

This is a true experience, and while many of you might not find the subject matter appealing, once you get into the production, you will find yourself caring, for the characters. You also might find yourself trying to recall some of what you learned about some of these people. Who they were! What they did for the country! Watching tonight, while we knew a Presidential debate was taking place made us even more aware of how politics have changed (or have they?). FYI this production is just that, a musical production, and while the story is somewhat factual, you will find that the majority of the cast members are “people of color”. This has nothing to do with History, so just wipe that out of your mind and just sit back, relax and watch the “hippest” history lesson you have ever had!

As I said earlier, this show could be here for years, so do not be alarmed if you cannot get tickets for the rest of the year. They are selling 2017 seats already and this might be the best Holiday Gift for you to give your loved ones for 2016. That would make many a loved one happy. The performance schedule is as follows:

hamiltonchi8Tuesdays  7:30 p.m.

Wednesdays  1:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  7:30 p.m.

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Sundays  2 p.m.

Tickets range from $65-$180 with a select number of tickets with some special features during the Holidays. These can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, including the Private Bank Theatre located at 18 West Monroe Street (between State and Dearborn), by calling 800-775-2000, the Broadway in Chicago Ticketline and on-line at www.BroadwayInChicago.com. SPECIAL NOTE: There is a MAXIMUM of six tickets per household!

Here is the info on the digital lottery. Forty-Four, day of show tickets will be sold for $10 each. To see what to do and how and when to do it, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com/HamiltonLotteryFAQ. Good Luck!

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Hamilton”.

special parking note- Italian Village, just down the street and a great place for pre-show dinner offers valet parking for $12. This might be the best value in town!hamiltonchi7

 

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