The issue on the table: ‘Hamilton’ leaves behind a lasting legacy

Syd Pierre, page editor

Hamilton’ is a world-renowned musical created by American composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. The 2015 opening was held at New York’s Richard Rodgers Theatre after premiering off-Broadway at the Public Theater. The groundbreaking musical is set in the late 1700s and follows one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, as he reflects on his journey through life and the legacy he strives to leave behind. The musical phenomenon won numerous awards, including eleven Tony Awards and the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. ‘Hamilton’ currently has shows on Broadway, Chicago, the West End in London, and two national U.S tours. While most shows are already sold out, some with tickets starting upwards of $150, theatergoers have the chance to enter a daily online ticket lottery, through the Hamilton app. The winning lottery tickets only cost $10, a nod to Hamilton himself, who is on the $10 bill, and lucky lottery winners can walk away with up to 2 tickets. ‘Hamilton’ runs at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis from Aug. 29 through Oct. 7.

The show mixes together the unexpected: combining history and modern music styles such as rap, pop, and hip-hop. Declarations fly out of character’s mouths; some are about love and ambition, others have been taken from direct historical documents such as Washington’s Farewell Address. A diverse cast plays primarily white historical figures and the show tackles issues that society still struggles with today: a few being racism, equal rights, and national identity. ‘Hamilton’ essentially has rewritten how theatergoers and people alike view Broadway and the art of theater, attracting millions of fans across the globe. The modernization of history and mixture of music continue to attract new theater fans, introducing thousands of people to the theater community and surrounding culture. The musical moves at a fast pace, the songs flowing one after another, building into what seems to be an endless climax of emotions, failures, and triumphs. The show seems to slow down in the second act, emphasizing the stress that Hamilton is under and the decisions he makes because of it. Hamilton is no longer an innocent young man, but he’s kept his ambition and motivation, still hungry to fight and build his country. As a result, the second act moves slower, transitioning from an energetic first act to more of an educational second act, a timeline of major historical events.

While the show is focused primarily on Hamilton himself, the ensemble and supporting cast members are heavily involved as well. The ensemble members use Andy Blankenbuehler’s Tony award-winning choreography to their advantage, making their hip-hop dance numbers seem effortless as they rotate around the stage on a turntable, another homage to modern music. The dancers’ effortless skills are showcased and creatively used in numbers such as ‘Yorktown’ and ‘History Has Its Eyes On You.’ Other supporting characters include Marquis De Lafayette (Kyle Scatliffe), James Madison (Desmond Sean Ellington), and John Laurens (King David Jones), who play some of Hamilton’s closest friends. The supporting trio is seen frequently throughout the show, as the audience watches them grow from aspirational young men to military generals and leaders in the fight for American independence.

Julius Thomas III, the Hamilton standby, absolutely flourishes in his role as he commands the stage with his powerful voice and spot on comedic timing. Thomas plays into Hamilton’s youth and innocence at the beginning of the show, which makes his transformation into a quick-witted and strong-willed man all the more powerful. His outstanding voice and range of emotions are showcased in multiple numbers, including ‘My Shot’, ‘One Last Time’, and ‘Hurricane.’ Nik Walker portrays Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s friend and eventual killer, with strength and brilliant flashes of a deep lurking jealousy, as he watches Hamilton continuously move up in the world. His smooth, yet strong voice is perfect for numbers such as ‘Dear Theodosia’ and ‘The World Was Wide Enough.’ Walker brought down the house with Burr’s quintessential “I-want-song” appropriately titled, ‘The Room Where It Happens.’

‘Hamilton’ is filled to the brim with brilliant actors, dancers, and inspirational lyrics. The historical events that occur in the show may be long over, but the message and history remain fully accessible to today’s modern audience. ‘Hamilton’ has already left a lasting legacy and will continue to provide the layman inspiration and insight for many years to come.